Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas is coming!!

  Well, here we are again.  Another Christmas is just ahead. I've been thinking a fair amount about Christmas this year.  There a lot of ups and down associated with Christmas.  Statistics tell us that this time of year crime increases as do suicides and domestic violence.  I'm not trying to be a bummer or a scrooge or anything, but sometimes it makes me wonder why we bother.   What was intended as a celebration of Christ's birth and the physical manifestation of God's love for the world has in many cases, I would say maybe most, been turned into a commercialized mockery which leads to many of the problems cited above.  So what is my great solution?  I don't have one.  Maybe that's what bothers me, the problem is way to big for me to get my head around.  What I can do is try do look past the blow up Santas, the ugly blue lights and all of the ridiculous advertising, and fight through my own apathy and indifference that all of this breeds in me. 
     So how am I going to do that?  Two things have struck me while pondering this season.  One, I still love to cook, and cooking gives me many things.  The ability to share my love with others, the time to focus, it relaxes me and gives me satisfaction.  Two, in my house we have a Nativity up all year,  it's a simple one that sits on a bookshelf at the bottom the stairs coming from the second floor.  Most of the time I walk past it with out notice.  This past week I started to wonder how I could combine these two things that are always present in our home.  The answer that came to me was, cook for the characters in the nativity scene.  Well, not literally for the little clay pieces, but cook as a remembrance for each one present at that manger in Bethlehem.
     So, over the next couple of weeks between now and Christmas I will post some recipes and thoughts on the characters in that scene.  I like to think of it as going foodie all over your Christmas theology.  Before going forward yes, I know that Jesus really wasn't born on December 25th and that our modern symbolism  is full of ancient pagan stuff and blah blah blah.  So whatever, I don't care about that, it doesn't really matter to me.
     First, how about a little history lesson?  The Celebration of Christmas as we know it, with presents, trees, lights and the manger scene, is fairly recent.   Francis of Assisi is generally credited with the development of what we call nativity scene or "crèche".
     Francis lived in 1200's in Italy, and is well known for his love of birds, animals and all of God's creation.  He seems to have been the first one to come up with the Idea of honoring the child with a manger scene filled with his beloved animals.
     His words were, "For I would make a memorial of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, and in some sort behold with bodily eyes His infant hardships; how He lay in a manger on hay, with the ox and ass standing by"  
     So he called the towns people together and they constructed a manger based on the account in Luke's Gospel.  Being such a quiet and gentle man, I can't begin to imagine what he would think of the frantic pace we set during this season.  He thought it should be a time of  solemn reflection on God's gift to us.

    OK, so who are the characters I'm going to cook for? (I'll expand on each as we go)
 Some are obvious, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise-men and the Angels.  Also present would be shepherds, sheep, cattle, a donkey, and camels. Not often represented but we can assume would at least be in the general area would be; the Innkeeper, a Tax Collector, a Beggar and some Roman Troops.  I'm not sure if I will get to that last group before Christmas, but I'll give it a shot.

     I hope you will enjoy the recipes, and maybe take the opportunity to look a little differently at that scene we see once a year and then put away.

Stay Hungry,

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