Lucy jumped up and down, clapping her hands, as her father and her best friend’s father dragged the Christmas tree into the living room. The room smelled of the clean green of fir and cold air. As they righted the tree in the stand we had purchased that morning (where do they go every year?), Lucy and her friend Lila ran circles in the room. Time to decorate the Christmas tree!
Lu had been looking forward to this day for weeks. Weeks! That’s a long time in the life of a four-year-old. Last year, these three helped us choose the tree, hoist it into the stand, and decorate it. Lu talked about the day, intermittently, throughout the year.
This year, both girls — who were born a month to the day of each other, friends from the womb — are a year older, a year more conscious, and a year more excited about Christmas. This is the year, the year that Santa Claus seems not only real but also omnipresent, the year that lighting candles and opening the page of an Advent calendar delight, utterly. This holiday is right in their roundhouses.
They dove, giggling, into the Christmas box, and came up with angels made of ceramic and salt-dough ornaments that somehow survived a year in the Christmas box in the cold garage. They reached for high branches, standing on their tip toes. They insisted on stringing the lights themselves. They were so proud.
(There were no lights above four feet from the bottom of the tree. Oh well. We all said behind our hands that Danny and I could fix it later, after Lu went to sleep.)
I could have baked cookies. Sugar cut-out cookies, gluten-free, are no problem at all. But cookbook edits had been due. And I wanted to be present with our friends, not running into the kitchen to pull baking sheets out of the oven.
Luckily, I had seen this recipe for white chocolate and candy cane-covered pretzels from Tracy at Shutterbean. All I had to do was buy gluten-free pretzels (we like these ). And then melt white chocolate in the microwave while I let the kids bash candy canes in a plastic bag. (Some of their candy canes ended up in their sticky fingers and on their red tongues.) We rolled the pretzels in each and eat them.
So if you’re trying to feed someone who is gluten-free this holiday season, don’t feel that you have to learn how to bake with alternative flours today. Make sure that the pretzels, white chocolate, and candy canes are gluten-free and then start bashing away at the candy canes. I can’t promise these will make everyone as happy as they did these four-year-olds. But you never know.