The holiday season is not just about what you get, but more about what you give. Several Edmond ministers share some of their Christmas traditions.
Dr. Alan Day serves Edmond’s First Baptist Church. He and his wife Alice share Christmas with family.
“Raising our four children was the priority of our lives, so holidays were always big, big, big for us,” Dr. Day said.
Five years ago, the Days and two of their children gathered to read the Christmas story. Their oldest son and their daughter were with in-laws.
“Neither had children yet; and we were eager to become grandparents,” Dr. Day explained.
Their son and his wife had shipped gifts with instructions, so Dr. Day began with a package addressed to him and Alice. Inside was a book—Now that you are a Grandparent. The baby was due the following August
Dr. Day met Alice in August 1968 and married her the following year. Their children were born in successive Augusts beginning in 1970, the third arriving on their anniversary—August 9.
“Our grandson was born August 9, 2002,” Dr. Day said. “The announcement of his conception can’t compare with what Mary heard the angel say 2000 years ago; but the thrill of it will never be erased from my mind and heart.”
One dish the Days serve each holiday season is bean corn salad. The recipe was Alice’s grandmother’s.
Mama’s Bean Corn Salad—Bring 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup sugar to a boil. Cook until sugar dissolves. Pour over one cup chopped celery, one can French style green beans, one can shoe peg corn, one bell pepper, one chopped bunch green onions and one small jar chopped pimento. Add one teaspoon salt and one teaspoon pepper. Chill for 24 hours and serve.
Dennis Newkirk pastors Henderson Hills Baptist Church. A favorite holiday memory for Newkirk and his wife Marcia includes a small boat purchased for their children.
“The anticipation and excitement over picking up a boat and hiding it on Christmas Eve was so fun,” Marcia remembered.
They hid the boat on Christmas Eve and wrapped the keys inside a box that opened 12 times down to a very small box. Each of their children helped open the boxes until they got to the last one, which held the keys and a floating key chain.
“What an exciting morning it was to run out in the driveway and climb in that boat! We have since had many happy family times enjoying God’s creation on the water in that old used boat,” Marcia explained.
Dennis’ favorite Christmas treat is fudge. The recipe he shared belonged to his mother.
Christmas Fudge—Bring 4 ½ cups sugar and one can pet (canned) milk to a boil for a full six minutes. Remove from heat and add 18 oz of chocolate chips and ½ lb of butter or margarine. Stir well. Add eight ounces of marshmallow cream. Keep stirring. Add one tablespoon of vanilla and nuts to suit taste. Continue stirring. Pour into 13" by 9" pan; let cool; cut into squares.
Kent Allen tends the flock at Memorial Road Church of Christ. His favorite Christmas memory dates back to the 1960s. Originally from Kansas, Allen recalled his entire family traveling from Wichita to Mankato in a blizzard. The family, which included his parents and three siblings, traveled most of the distance at a snail’s pace.
“We crept along about 30 miles per hour,” Allen said.
Upon reaching their destination, the home of Allen’s “most beloved aunt,” the family found a full house. They stayed the night in a turn of the century hotel with a big staircase “like you see in the movies.” The old hotel was cold, but Allen said they provided down blankets and that helped.
In the morning, the family visited the aunt and found that the rest of the family had all arrived safely in time for Christmas morning.
“It was a reminder that God is good and He brought us all there together,” Allen said.
One of the Allen’s favorite Christmas dishes is vegetable casserole and his wife Phyllis shared the recipe.
Vegetable Casserole—Sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese on the bottom of a greased 8" by 12" baking dish. Spread one can of chopped green chiles over the cheese. Add one can drained green beans and one can of corn. Mix in salt and pepper lightly with fingers. Make another layer by repeating, starting with another ½ cup cheese. Add another layer of green chiles, green beans, corn, salt and pepper. Sprinkle another ½ cup of cheese on top. Stir three beaten eggs and ¾ cup of sour cream together. Thinly slice eight ounces of Monterey Jack cheese and cover the entire casserole. Just before baking, pour the egg/sour cream mixture over all. Bake one hour at 350 degrees. The dish should be browned and set and serves 12.
John Gruel, associate pastor of Edmond’s First Presbyterian Church, said his favorite Christmas memory is from the mid-eighties and includes his daughter. She was about five years old and “had her heart set on a Cabbage Patch doll.” Gruel recalled that the round-faced dolls were popular and hard to find.
“I searched high and low without success, so I offered a $50 reward (above and beyond the price of the doll) to anyone in my office who could find one,” Gruel admitted.
Days later, Gruel’s receptionist showed up at the office with an African American Cabbage Patch doll.
“My daughter gratefully received her, named her Stephanie, and provided her a loving home not even recognizing any distinction between her Cabbage Patch Kid and those of her friends until years later,” Gruel said.
Gruel’s favorite Christmas treat as a child was eggnog. Each Christmas Eve, his father would pour Gruel and his brother a glass before bedtime. As Gruel grew up, he seemed to lose his taste for the drink because it did not seem the same.
“It wasn’t until later that my dad confessed that he always put a healthy shot of bourbon in the eggnog in order to calm us down and get us to sleep,” he said.
Dr. Joel Baker is the pastor at Edmond’s Christ Church. Dr. Baker’s favorite Christmas memory dates back several decades. He remembers Annie Saunders, an elderly woman who lived by herself in a low rent apartment in Maine. Saunders prepared her meals on a hot plate and lived what seemed to be a lonely life.
For years, Saunders ate Christmas dinner with the Baker family, “much to the displeasure of their three children.”
“I can remember going to get her in our station wagon with my dad, year after year,” Dr. Baker recalled. “My folks did not want her to be alone at Christmas.”
While he did not appreciate the unselfish act at the time, Dr. Baker now remembers Saunders with fondness each Christmas. He now understands the generosity of his parents and the resentment he felt at the time.
“I wonder, if Jesus were around for his birthday, would he want anyone to be left out of the party? Would anyone be alone on Christmas?” he asked.
Dr. Baker’s favorite recipe is spaghetti and was developed while he was in college.
Brown 1/4 lb. hamburger with one clove minced garlic. Open jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce, pour over browned hamburger and heat. Pour heated meat sauce over cooked spaghetti. Serve with Italian bread.
Which recipe is the best? Why not try them all? Whatever your taste buds enjoy, each minister wants everoyone to remember that Jesus is the real reason to celebrate this holiday season.