|Custer State Park January 2017|
Go here to see some pictures from the height of the fire: Wildfire Today
The news Saturday night was that the fire was 90% contained. The really good news? Even with the gusty winds, this was not a hot, out of control fire. Many of the trees will survive and the grass will grow back. Wildlife appears to have come through all right, and none of the historic buildings had damage.
Hopefully we'll be able to make a trip out there sometime soon, and I'll keep track of the recovery process. :-)
But the big news today: Can you believe that Christmas Day is only one week away?
Snow, sleighbells, Christmas greenery, the fragrance of Christmas cookies baking....
...and neighbors greeting each other with more than the usual wave.
At least in our neighborhood we do.
For the last several years, the neighbors around our little cul-de-sac have shared cookies and other treats with each other as a Christmas greeting. Neighbor to neighbor, getting to know each other a little bit better.
Nothing fancy, nothing big.
Just a little something to say, "Merry Christmas!"
Last year I made Mindy's Pumpkin bread and shared one of those little loaves along with some fudge and a few cookies. You can find Mindy's recipe here: Mindy's Pumpkin Bread
This year, I'm adding a bag full of my amazing Crunchy Cereal Mix. What makes it amazing? Because I've tweaked the "official" ingredients to make my own blend of spices. You can do that, too - mix in some Cajun spice, or maybe add a bit more garlic. Is siracha more your style? Add it in to the spice mixture! Here's my recipe to get you started: Jan's Crunchy Cereal Mix
I made some fudge this year already. Carrie, Katie and I got together for a baking day a couple weeks ago. But where is the fudge??? Alas, I didn't hide it well enough! So today I'm making a batch of my favorite peanut butter fudge, and another one of chocolate fudge. Grandma's Peanut Butter Fudge
Whatever we put in our bags or containers for our neighbors, we know it's appreciated. And it isn't something that happens in a lot of neighborhoods anymore. People move - like we have - and it's hard to form friendships. Front porches are non-existent in newer sub-divisions. And if you don't have children going to the same school, you may never really see your neighbors.
But this one time a year, we leave a bit of a snack on a neighbor's doorstep - - and it has made a difference on our little street.
Joe, a few doors down, found out we have a wood stove, so he collects the scraps from his woodworking hobby for us to burn (thank you, Joe!). And his wife loves to read...so guess who gets a copy of my books?
The family with all the dogs (4?) had a problem with their back gate last summer and the two biggest dogs escaped one day when everyone was at work. When the dogs came back home to an empty house, Joe and I tied them in the shade with a bowl of water to wait for their owners.
The family at the end of the street - in the rental house - is always fun. Every other year it's someone new. It's so much fun to surprise them!
But more than anything else, giving these little gifts reminds me of Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas Day - it takes so little to give something that can make such a difference in someone's day!
So as the year winds to an end and the winter chill sets in, let us all spend this week - this last week before Christmas - with the spirit of giving in our hearts and a smile of joy on our faces. Because no matter what else is happening in our lives, this is the time we celebrate our Savior's birth.
What is your favorite way of giving this time of year?
Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.
You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan Drexler.com.