Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas

This time of year causes me to reflect on my childhood more than any other. The Hershey's Kisses bells playing We Wish You A Merry Christmas, the M&M's encountering Santa, Charlie Brown Christmas playing on TV, Christmas Canon or Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas playing on the radio, or the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees instantly take me back to our living room fully decorated with tacky tinsel and my mom baking cookies while my sister and I watched one of the various Christmas shows she recorded for us. Or heading to pick out our Christmas tree and stopping to eat lunch at Burger King before we went home where my dad would proceed to chop off part of the stump and unruly branches with ol' hickory - the sharpest and largest kitchen knife we owned. Or driving around listening to Christmas carols while looking at Christmas lights. Or "sleeping" (mainly laughing and talking all night) with my sister every Christmas Eve with the radio tuned to The Key where they played 24 hours of Christmas music. And so many other memories I cherish in my heart.

I can barley watch those commercials and shows or listen to the songs these days because while they are so happy and I love them I get very emotional. Emotional over the simple, innocent, and care free days of childhood. The feeling of safety and comfort from having two parents around who took care of everything and would do anything for you. While a majority of my friends came from divorced homes, my sister and I were blessed enough to grow up in a two parent household full of love until I was 17 and she 16. And while we didn't grow up in Hills West (the then fancy area of town) like some of our friends, I would never trade what we had. Two parents home every night and a mom who stayed home to take care of us as young kids is worth a million fancy homes. And every year when I first hear that Hershey's Kisses commercial my heart flutters with pure joy and excitement. Even though it's short lived and adulthood sets in again when I look at the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the basket. Those moments of pure childhood bliss come to life in my heart so vividly I want to cry. I do not have children with which to relive this joy through and Jeremiah doesn't understand so much because he came from a broken home at a very young age where the back and forth parent to parent experience jaded him. That may be partly what makes me sad. It's something that was so magical that existed for me and I know I can't go back and I know not every child had or has that. And I don't know with certainty that Jeremiah and I will have children. So for now, I relish in those sounds, sights, and smells that revive my memory and watch as my niece and nephews look at this magical Christmas world with wonder and amazement.

I feel incredibly blessed and humbled by the love and joy God bestowed upon me as a child. What my parents were able to give my sister and I was something money can never buy. And even though they are no longer married, those memories are not tainted in anyway and those times are filed away separately from the later years when their marriage quickly went downhill. The happy childhood memories I have are a continual gift that I receive every year when Christmas rolls around. The gift that truly keeps on giving. If you can give this to your children or those around you, do. Memories are a priceless gift that stay with us forever. And I'm thankful to my parents for giving that to my sister and I. And thankful to God for taking what could have made for rough circumstances for two little girls and blessing it. He really can make everything for good. Thank you, Jesus.  Merry Christmas, indeed. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pumpkin Maple Nog Oatmeal

I haven't posted in way too long. But I'm back with one more Fall recipe I just had to share. With my current state of lactose intolerance, I decided to try some SO Delicious Coconut Nog and was not disappointed. I shared it all over social media it was that good. Fast forward to Thanksgiving week when I really wanted some more and could not find it at any store in the Tri-City area. As I watched my family sip the regular dairy nog on turkey day, I might have had a few choice words run through my head, but I kept them to myself... mostly. But now the nog was all I could think about, but there was nothing I could do. I did end up finding some on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, in case you were worried. This town just ain't big enough for more than one lactose intolerant person. Now onto the delicious recipe I concocted with the nog! A yummy Pumpkin Oatmeal that you do not want to miss out on. It's very simple and easily customizable. So don't be afraid to get crazy with it. :)

Pumpkin Maple Nog Oatmeal:

Prepare oatmeal according to directions. I used rice milk to prepare mine and gluten free oats. Next, add 1 tablespoon pumpkin purée, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and a couple tablespoons SO Delicious Dairy Free Nog Coconut Milk to taste. Add a handful of raisins and nuts, if can tolerate, and mix well. Then devour. Because it's so tasty and festive and filling and comforting! Yes , that's a lot of "and's," but I'm pretty sure they're all necessary. ;)

*No I am not being compensated by SO Delicious. I just love this nog and wanted to use it here all on my own. You could use regular egg nog, milk, or plain coconut milk and add cinnamon and nutmeg to flavor if you cannot find a good nog to use. Don't forget - this recipe is customizable to your allergy needs. Use whatever dairy free, egg free, nut free, etc. ingredients you need to. The pumpkin, maple syrup, and cinnamon/nutmeg are the staples here.