As each day passes, I notice fewer and fewer decorations and lights. Our own Christmas tree will be disassembled and stored in the next day or so. Less gradual was the abrupt change in the song play list at our mall from every version of “White Christmas” ever recorded to “Cheeseburger in Paradise” (I kid you not). And it’s getting hard to find a cookie or piece of Christmas candy in my house. I am especially sad that my Pfeffernusse cookies are gone.
So, on this January 6, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite cookies and carols with you. Think of it as a late Christmas gift, or an early one if you wish.
I made Peppernuts, the English translation of the German recipe, for the first time in December. I found the recipe in a magazine I had laying around and decided to give it a try. I couldn’t help but notice the similarity of the word Pfeffernusse to my maiden name, Pfeiffer, however, the cookies don’t seem to have been a tradition for my relatives. They do share many of the spices of my Grandma Pfeiffer’s molasses cookies which are still a family favorite, but they also contain cardamom, ground almonds and, yes, white pepper. I enjoyed making these crunchy bite-sized cookies and found that I couldn’t eat just one. The flavorful treats stay fresh longer than most cookies, and I’ve loved grabbing a handful for a snack. Do they really have to be a seasonal thing? I don’t think so. Here is the Pfeffernusse recipe that I used.
Although it’s January 6, I confess that I listened to a disc of Christmas music today. When I stashed the rest of my seasonal CDs away this week, I couldn’t bear to put my newest one out of sight and out of mind just yet. Fernando Ortega’s CHRISTMAS SONGS album was such a breath of fresh air compared to the many tired renditions of carols that fill the season. The beautiful instrumentation and thoughtful treatment of the lyrics brought out deeper appreciation for the true reason we celebrate. Some may not approve of setting a beloved carol to a new melody, but I found Ortega’s rendition of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” to be quite special. It’s upbeat and hopeful sounding all the way through the last verse. And the truth of that verse is not constrained to December or outdated 2,017 years after Christ was born of Mary.
How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.