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December 1999 Issue
Visions of Sugarplums....
by Victoria Smith
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The copper leaves are still drifted around our feet, and yesterday we didn't need jackets when we went out, but all the same, the season is moving along, and Christmas is not very far away.

I remember the first Christmas that I spent in this house, that of 1983.  The year before, I had been in foster care, many miles from here, and I had not yet met the woman who was to become my mother.  (She knew about me, but I had never heard of her.)  She and her mother had been buying and preparing for my arrival since the preceding August, but the judge in my home county adjourned the court for the Holiday Season, and I spent Christmas of 1982 in foster care. 

I didn't arrive here until February 20, 1983.  I was nine years old.  Everything was new to me, and much of it was terrifying.  I was expected to have opinions about things.  They actually asked me what I wanted, or what I thought.  At first, I didn't know what to do.  Then it dawned on me that they were actually, listening to me, and that what I thought and felt mattered to them.  I learned about options. 

As Christmas of 1983 approached, my mother learned that I had never been taken to see Santa.  Every child, she declared, had to be taken to see Santa, and have a picture taken.  So we went to the Monmouth Mall, and not only did I have my picture taken with Santa, but I saw the wonders of the Mall at Christmastime.  I go back every year with a camera.

I remember snowy nights when moonlight poured into my room, bright as day, and my mom would come in to check my blankets and make sure that I was comfortable.  I had new, roomy sleepers with feet in them, not some old tight ones where the feet had been cut off and my growing body was too big for the hand-me-down pajamas.  I was warm, now, and for many reasons.

It took Mom and Grandma two full days to wrap the presents that they had for me.  It took me nearly as long to open them all.  I actually had to stop from time to time in order to take a break, and eat something.

And the things that people ate during the Christmas Season!  Talk about visions of sugarplums!


Iced Chocolate Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened margarine
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg substitute
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Chocolate Icing (see below)
  • Candy sprinkles -- if you want them
Heat oven to 350F.  Grease cookie sheet.  Beat sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, egg substitute, and chocolate in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with a spoon.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in nuts.

Drop dough by level 1/4 cupfuls or #16 cookie/ice cream scoop about 2" apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in the center.  Cool 1 to 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely.  Spread on chocolate icing.  Mix this up while the cookies are baking.  Draw wavy lines through the icing with a fork to decorate.  Add sprinkles.  (I, of course, prefer chocolate sprinkles.)

  • Yields: about 18 cookies
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Chocolate Icing
  • 2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. margarine
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp. hot water
Melt chocolate and margarine in a 2 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently; remove from heat.  Stir in powdered sugar and hot water until smooth.  If icing is too thick, stir in additional hot water; if icing is too thin, stir in additional powdered sugar.
  • Yields: enough to ice the cookies
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
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