Something everyone seems to take special joy in around the holidays are the special goodies that no doubt make us fat but taste so wonderful. Often these are not too different from things we might enjoy all year around, but have extra "special ingredients."
Here's a recipe for Fresh Cranberry Relish you might try:
1 package fresh, whole cranberries
2 oranges, one peeled
2 apples, cored but not peeled
1 small can crushed pineapple
1/2 - 1 cup sugar
Grind the cranberries, apples and oranges in a food processor. Add the pineapple and sugar to taste. Mix well, chill and serve.
Now, as much as we might enjoy the things we eat, Christmas is special for a lot of other reasons.
First of all is the remembrance of the birth of our savior, Jesus of Nazareth, for whom the holiday was created and in whom it has meaning.
Like our special treats around the holidays, there are a lot of ingredients that make a Christmas special. You might consider adding some "special ingredients" to your Christmas that might help to make this observance memorable for years to come.
Special ingredient No. 1 -- Lots of planned family time. The irony of many of our Christmas holiday experiences is that we get so wrapped up -- no pun intended -- in the shopping, card sending, office parties and so on that we short change ourselves with the people we care the most about, our families.
The "secret" to this special ingredient? It is in the word "planned." Plan evenings as far ahead of time as possible so everyone can be together or participate in the same activities together.
Plan around an activity everyone likes -- a game, family movies, videos or slides -- and then design a time when each one will share a special memory. It can be an annual event.
Special ingredient No. 2 -- Make a special family devotion time separated from opening presents.
Face it, when there are presents to open, who can listen to 52 verses from Luke 2?
Even the most pious among us fidgets when thinking of the surprises to come. Instead, why not share the biblical account of Christ's birth around dessert after a family dinner the night before your big event? Reading the scripture and offering prayer thanking God for his most wonderful gift without the distraction of presents awaiting will make this more meaningful and a separate special time.
Special ingredient No. 3 -- Do a special family outdoor activity.
In this day of store lot and artificial trees, one of the familiar family traditions has gone by the wayside. Why not get a caroling group to sing in your neighborhood on Christmas Eve?
If the weather cooperates, a good old-fashioned sledding party complete with hot chocolate is hard to top. If there is no snow, how about clearing the litter off your street or the highway as a family? Service to others makes a warm family memory.
Special ingredient No. 4 -- Adopt a person or family in need. There are many ways to find who needs help. Love INC is one of our local agencies that works as a clearing house to help connect those in need with those who can help. The Salvation Army is another group dedicated to helping those in need. A food basket, presents or even the gift of friendship can make a Christmas special for years to come.
Special ingredient No. 5 -- Discover or rediscover your faith. Attend a Christmas Eve service at a local church. Many of our local churches offer a special time of carols, special music or drama that will give Christmas the real meaning it was meant to have.
Knowing Jesus as a friend and not just as a story will make your life richer, deeper and better. The greatest "Christmas verse" of the whole Bible will have special meaning for you: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Well, no doubt you are getting ideas of "special ingredients" on your own and those are the ones that will be best. However, let me urge you to actually carry out your plans and not let other things get in the way.
Now is the time. We can't take it for granted!
Stephen Brown is pastor of the Kenai New Life Assembly of God, 209 Princess St., Kenai.
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