Creating Christmas

If I had to find the positive upswing in the economic downturn, I would have to say that squeezing my pennies has lead me to counting my blessings and getting back to what’s important.  This is especially true this holiday season.  This year at our house we are creating a whole new kind of Christmas holiday. I have found that not having to dive into the gift buying frenzy has simplified our celebration to a level that feels…well…almost sane, and is allowing us to embrace a Christmas spirit that is festive, merry, and filled with good cheer.

To feel my way through this new spirit of Christmas (because, in all honestly, my usual Christmas demeanor resembles that of a grumpy old troll), I stopped by East Side Books to peruse the Christmas books.  Christmas angel and owner Diane Doonan suggested I look at The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas by Jeff Smith and The Winter Solstice by John Matthews as a holiday overview.  Both books are filled to the brim with holiday stories, prayers, craft making, and recipes. The lovely photos and illustrations alone are well worth the price of the books.  I learned to cook from Jeff Smith cookbooks and know his recipes to be simple and satisfying.  (Check out our other Jeff Smith cookbooks in the Cooking Section of East Side Books.)

This year my youngest daughter has turned crafty, and I am excited to steer her talent toward holiday decorations and ornament making.  I discovered that our Craft Section holds a goldmine of Christmas crafting books.  Kim, my fellow employee, swears by the Martha Stewart’s Christmas manuals and I have to say that her pages are bursting with fresh ideas and tempting recipes.  I was also drawn to the Christmas crafting and recipe compilations of Carol Field Dahlstrom.  Her books are a delightful discovery of simple decorating and gift ideas, as well as pages of mouthwatering recipes with large gorgeous photos and clear instructions.  I also recommend you check out Gooseberry Patch Christmas, Quick & Easy Christmas Crafts, The Los Angeles Times Book of Christmas Enertaining, and The Spirit of Christmas for an amazing array of quick and beautiful gift ideas and holiday recipes. We also carry a number of the Better Homes and Garden’s holiday crafting books that specialize in cross stitch patterns and needlepoint projects.

Because I love to bake, I couldn’t resist moseying on over to the Holiday/Entertaining shelf in our Cooking Section.  There I found a number of must have holiday cookbooks beginning with Christmas 101 by Rick Rodgers.  Besides the clever title, Rodgers’ book is filled with holiday recipes that can take you from appetizer through dessert with ease.  He has lots of helpful hints throughout that will make holiday entertaining and cooking a snap.  When it comes to cookbooks, I am like a child, I want lots of pictures, that is why I was drawn to An Edible Christmas by Irena Chalmers.  In this lovely cookbook every recipe is accompanied by a photo that looks good enough to eat.  I can’t imagine the time that must have gone into creating this book, but I want to tell Ms. Chalmers, wherever she may be,  that I truly appreciate it. The recipe for Raspberry Crisp Cake on page 151 looks simply irresistible.  This cookbook won’t stay on our shelves long.  Lastly, I had to sit and leaf through the Better Homes and Garden Cookies for Christmas cookbook.  There is nothing more I like make (or eat) than cookies.  The Scandinavian Almond Bars on page 63 are something I really must try.

If you are looking to swing into the holiday mood, drive your sleigh over to East Side Books and check out our wide selection of holiday books for yourself.  If you need any help locating a title, please ask one of our friendly elves for assistance.  And above all, have a very merry and happy holiday season.

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