FOOD FOR THOUGHT, by Minister Hugh Bradford

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10

Imagine if this season would stay all year, and the Love people show at this time of year never disappears.

Christmas Party Appetizers, by Leslie J. Ansley

Having a holiday party? Have these cute and festive appetizers on hand. What I like most about these is how quickly each can be put together, and you can make as many or as few as you like. First, this oldie but goodie:

CHRISTMAS TREE VEGETABLE PLATTERveg

Ingredients

3 cups fresh broccoli florets
14 grape tomatoes
½ yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 ½ cups fresh cauliflower florets
¾ oz (about 40) pretzel sticks (from 15-oz bag)

Directions

  1. Rinse and thoroughly dry vegetables. Trim broccoli and cauliflower floret stems.
  2.  Arrange broccoli on serving platter to form tree shape and tomatoes to form garland. Arrange bell pepper to form star and cauliflower to form snow (see photo). If desired, cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.
  3. Just before serving, arrange pretzels at bottom of tree to form trunk. Serve with dip of your choice.

And now …

grinchGRINCH KABOBS

Ingredients

24 green grapes
1 large banana, cut into 24 slices, or as needed
24 hulled strawberries, tips removed
24 miniature marshmallows
24 toothpicks

Directions

Thread 1 grape, 1 banana slice, 1 strawberry (narrow end facing up), and 1 marshmallow onto 1 toothpick to resemble the Grinch’s head in his red hat. Repeat with remaining grapes, banana slices, strawberries, and marshmallows.

And finally …

PIGS IN A BLANKET HOLIDAY WREATH

piggiesIngredients

1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls
24 little smokies mini sausages
Rosemary and a small candle as garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Open the can of crescent rolls and unroll them, separating the rolls individually (there should be a total of 8). Cut each of the 8 pieces of dough into 3 pieces, making a total of 24 pieces. Take a mini sausage and wrap one piece of dough around it and set aside. Repeat for the remaining sausages.

Once all of the mini sausages have been wrapped, arrange them on the baking sheet to form a circle. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crescent rolls are a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and very carefully transfer to a serving platter. Fill the center of the wreath with fresh rosemary and a small candle. Serve warm or at room temperature.

How to Wrap a Tree with Lights,  by Leslie J. Ansley

treezA whole tree covered in lights, from the trunk to the furthest branch. You seem them everywhere this time of year – outside malls, in front yards, in outdoor light shows. Every wonder how it’s done? Well, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here’s a simple tutorial.

  1. First, choose your lights, and make sure you have enough strands.
  2. Ball the string to make it easy to unwind without hitting a snag. Preparation is one of the most important steps in wrapping a tree. Leave the male plug out at the base of the tree so that you can run power to the string once it’s wrapped.
  3. Wrap around the trunk, leaving the male plug at the base. Wrap upwards, leaving enough space to come back down. Wrap firmly but not too tightly..
  4. At branches, wrap the lights out onto the branch, leaving enough space to come back down. If you hit the end of a string, simply plug a new string into the female plug to create end-to-end runs.
  5. Wrap really thin branches together with the sturdier ones.
  6. Always wrap back to the base (trunk) of the tree. Continue wrapping branches, keeping in mind that not every branch needs to be wrapped.
  7. Once your chosen branches have been wrapped, wrap back down the trunk towards the base. This adds extra light to the trunk. When finished, plug in and enjoy.

“What I Love About the Holidays”

by Apostle Phillip Walker
 

christmas-musicEach year on Thanksgiving Day, I look forward to hearing radio stations playing Christmas music. It is the music of Christmas that makes the season so special to me. Imagine Christmas without music. Even a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling green Grinch with a heart “two sizes too small,” who lived on snowy Mount Crumpit, a steep, high mountain just north of the town of Whoville, found out that “maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more” than just presents and feasting. He discovered that music alone could galvanize people around this joyous holiday and cheer the heart in spite of what they did not possess. 

There are so many different varieties of music to celebrate the season. Traditional hymns, gospel classics, pop, rock, country, bluegrass and instrumentals all fill the airwaves this time of year. What would the Christmas season be without treasured hymns like Do You Hear What I Hear?,  Away in a Manger, The First Noel, and O Little Town of Bethlehem?  Everybody loves Donnie Hathaway’s This Christmas, Silent Night by the Temptations and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Luther Vandross. Stores and malls join the revelry by playing Have a Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Johnny Mathis, and the ubiquitous Sleigh Ride.

However, there is one song in the Walker family that welcomes Christmas Day and it has withstood the test of time. On Christmas morning, while everybody is asleep, I will start a roaring fire in the fireplace, light up the Yuletide tree and blast this particular song. Everybody in the house will wake up to its rich, buttery-smooth melody. That particular, nostalgic classic is the alarm that signals Christmas Day has officially arrived. 

When Danaka and Cheri were children, this song meant “Wake up! Time to open presents!” They would immediately spring out of bed and rush downstairs to open their treasures.

I had done this for several years, but decided to stop when they became teenagers. They had gotten older and one particular year before Christmas they were making wisecracks about how corny the tradition was. So, I decided to sleep in late with everybody else.While laying in bed and sleeping much later than I normally would get up, I heard Christmas music playing. To my surprise, they had gotten up and continued our Yuletide tradition of beginning Christmas day with music.  

When I came downstairs, I said “What, y’all blasting Christmas music? I thought you said it was corny.” Their reply was, “We kept lying in bed waiting for the music to start. It never did, so we did it ourselves. You gotta play the Christmas music. You can’t start Christmas Day without that song. How are we supposed to know that Christmas has started?” Ever since then, this particular song has continued to hail Christmas Day. 

Years later, our tradition continues with my granddaughters, Briana and Donise. Two years ago they were not at our house  Christmas morning because they did not spend Christmas Eve night.  After the holidays, one of them said to me, disappointedly, “Christmas was messed up this year because we did not get a chance to get up to the music.” 

There is nothing like the  sounds of the season to warm the heart and invoke so many forgotten memories from Christmas days so long ago. I hope that whatever your tradition, music will be a special part of its celebration. A song can reach the heart. When all the presents are opened and the sumptuous meal consumed, it will be the melody that lingers on.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, from the Walkers. 

What do YOU love about the holidays?

Send us your thoughts in written or video form and we’ll share it right here. Email your story to Leslie Ansley. Please include a photo if you have one. If you have a short video to share, upload it to Leslie’s Dropbox via this link.  Pleasant Holidays continues through Sunday, December 25.