Christmas: A time for healing

I sorted through a lot of Christmas decorations trying to decide which ones I wanted to use this year.  Many of them brought back fond memories of my husband and children, especially the Christmas stockings that I had made for each of us.  One stocking, however, took me even further back.

When I was preschool age, my Aunt Barbara sewed preprinted flannel stockings for my sisters and me.  We used them for a year or two, but then our parents made us use one of our own socks.  The flannel ones were so large it was hard to get them full, especially when Mom and Dad had limited resources.

A few years after we received the stockings, ill feelings built up between my mother and her brother, Herbert  (Aunt Barbara’s husband).  They went without speaking for several years.  We felt so sad that we did not get to visit with Uncle Herbert and Aunt Barbara anymore, and we also lost our connection with their children.

My family moved from a suburb of Knoxville to the country, which meant my siblings and I transferred schools.  My youngest brother, John, started school a year or so after we moved.  He was a quiet little soul, even though he was quite intelligent.  He usually steered clear of the spotlight; however, just before the Christmas program that year he asked his teacher if he could sing a song by himself.  She granted this request; when asked if he wanted piano accompaniment, John refused.

Unbeknownst to our family, a co-worker of Uncle Herbert had a child who attended the same elementary school.  He and his wife invited my uncle to the program that evening, so he was in attendance.  I am not sure if he realized some of my siblings were students there (I was in high school at the time).

My brother’s song was announced; he sang several verses of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”  His a capella rendition was clear and true, melting more than one heart that holiday season.  A healing process began that night in the relationship between my mother and Uncle Herbert, who was her only living sibling.

Christmas.  From the first, it has been a time for mending broken relationships.  Jesus came to make a way to heal the breach that sinfulness caused between God and humankind.  May this season bring hope and restoration to each and every one of us!

Some holiday side dishes and a festive frittata for Christmas morning:


Farro Salad with Pecans and Dried Cherries

Salted water

1-1/2 cups farro, uncooked

1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cherries

3 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water (1 teaspoon salt) to a boil over high heat.  Add farro; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 20 minutes).  Drain well in a fine-mesh strainer; rinse under cold water.  Shake to remove excess water; transfer to medium bowl.

Stir in next 4 ingredients.  Mix lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper; stir into farro mixture.  Fold in feta cheese.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Holiday Wild Rice

3 tablespoons chopped onion

3 tablespoons chopped sweet red pepper

3 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups rice/wild rice blend

3 cups beef stock

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1 teaspoon dried onion flakes

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Dash cayenne pepper

In large saucepan, sauté chopped onion, red pepper, and green onions in oil until tender.  Stir in rice, beef stock, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes (or according to time on instructions for rice).

Yield: 8-10 servings.


Red and Green Frittata

1 leek, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups fresh spinach, torn

1 medium-sized red pepper, roasted *

3/4 cup Asiago cheese, shredded (I used Swiss), divided

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

6 eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 10-inch oven-proof skillet, cook leek and garlic in hot oil until tender, stirring often.  Add spinach; cook and stir about 1 minute or until spinach is limp.  Remove from heat.

Slice roasted pepper into strips.  Stir pepper strips, 1/2 cup of cheese, thyme, salt, and black pepper into skillet.  Add eggs; stir to mix.  Top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

To serve, loosen with a spatula; cut frittata into six wedges.  Yield: 6 servings.

*Line baking sheet with foil.  Quarter pepper; remove stem, seeds, and membranes.  Place pepper pieces on foil, skin side up. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until skins are blistered and dark.  Remove from oven.  Wrap in the foil; let stand 15 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, peel skins from peppers; discard skins.





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