Column: Look for holiday spirit

Heading into the holiday season with a spirit of more downs than ups, I was searching for that one favorite holiday memory that would bring the warmth of giving back home. The answer came in the simplest form and was as close to my nose as my cupboard door.

For my husband and me, waking up on Christmas to just the two of us has been depressing since our children grew up and started their own families. Our oldest grandchild is 7; our youngest celebrated his first birthday a few months ago.  

Christmas just doesn’t have the ho-ho-ho spirit it had when we got to see the sparkle in our children’s eyes when they first saw the gifts under the tree. More than anything, I miss the joy my husband and I shared in knowing exactly what each child put on Santa’s list.

As a grandparent, I’ve learned to leave the magic of Christmas to my children so they can have their own special Christmas mornings.

As a good parent and grandparent, I shop for the real needs of my family. The gifts I wrap look fairly dismal compared to the fun ones I once wrapped for my kids from the big man at the North Pole.

Last week my youngest daughter asked me for the sugar cookie recipe she remembered from childhood. I haven’t baked that cookie for years, but when I did, I made hundreds of dozens. It’s a recipe my mother cut out from an old farmer’s magazine in the 1950s. There’s nothing special about it, just a simple sour cream sugar cookie.

The old page of the magazine eventually became too old to read, and my mother wrote the recipe out. Last week, I went to my recipe file in the cupboard to retrieve that handwritten version and found it, too, had faded. It took me awhile to decipher the ingredients, but it didn’t take me long to remember the recipe from start to end.

My daughter called me this morning after a night of baking cookies and encouraging her children to decorate them. Her kids were bouncing off the walls with sugar-fueled happiness and my daughter was laughing.

That’s when I knew my daughter had found the recipe for a perfect Christmas.

This year on Christmas morning, my husband and I will still wake to a quiet house and face a tree without Santa, but we will be warmed by the knowledge that family traditions have come to roost in the Christmas trees of our children.

It’s amazing how sometimes the best gift you can give is as close to you as a cupboard door.

Dianne Schultz is a staff writer for the Madison Messenger.

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