"Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this."
Country in Focus: England
Tradition: Stained Glass windows
Activity: Start making goody bags. Make stained Glass cookies. (*updated)
Materials: Sugar cookie dough, lollipops or hard candies (I am using Jolly Ranchers), plastic sandwich bags, hammer, wax paper, a baking sheet, and cooking spray or butter (I love Baker's Joy spray) and aluminum foil* (updated!)
On a floured surface, roll the sugar cookie dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch wide strips. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease the aluminum foil.* (updated!) Place the strips onto the foiled and greased baking sheet forming window frames.
Keeping the colors of your hard candy separate, place the candy into plastic sandwich bags and crush them with a hammer. Place crushed candies inside window frames to form a pattern.
Bake for eight minutes or until candy is melted. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes or until the candy is hard. Lift the cookies off with a spatula and pull off the aluminum foil*(updated!). Then transfer them to another plate for storage. Use wax paper between layers.
Every year, my family and I make goody bags for our community. Now is the time to start making the list and doing the baking. It will take about a week and a half to make enough cookies, brownies, pretzels, and bread loaves to go around. I want to encourage you that when you make your list to think beyond the "usual suspects".
Of course, we want to bless our pastor and Sunday school teachers, Scout leaders, and coaches. But there are many people in our community that do things for us every day that we just don't think about. Also, it's an excellent way to reach out to others. When you think about your list, don't forget your mechanic, librarian, video store clerk, bank tellers, fast food workers (yes, I do take cookies to the people working at McDonald's), DMV employees, city tax office, etc. I also keep a few bags with me in the car all the time in case I run into a homeless person at the traffic light.
Remember to tell your children to say "Merry Christmas" when they give their goody bag away. They get shy and forget, even the most rambunctous child! You would be surprised how something this small blesses people. It's a great lesson for your kids!
Why stained glass windows as a Christmas tradition? The idea was suggested to me in a way by my husband. He was discussing the beauty of stained glass windows. He was impressed by the ability of these windows to draw non-Christians to a church because of their beauty.
The history of stained glass windows in the Church is controversial. Although stained glass was used in art by the Egyptians and Romans, it's glory was reached in the Middle Ages. Churches used the window to depict Biblical events or patron saints. By the Renaissance, the staining of the glass improved so that colors did not fade as much over time. During the Reformation, in England, many of the stained glass windows in churches were destroyed and replaced with plain windows. However, in other countries such as Germany, even with the rise of Protestantism, the classic style of stained glass windows continued.
In England, there are still some beautiful examples of stained glass windows that remained undamaged. One of them is Hengrave Hall in Suffolk, which is a private chapel. Another is the Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent.
When my boys and I made our cookies today, for the life of me I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I remembered making these with my oldest son! After a couple of failed attempts, I realized that I had covered the baking sheet with aluminum foil and then pealed the aluminum foil away. I hadn't remembered that! I cannot even describe the mess that's left behind if you don't.
Here's a picture of one of our disasters.
Funny thing...Tutone pointed out...maybe these were the stained glass windows that were destroyed when the Anglican churches came in and took over! At least he paid attention to the lesson while we were baking!
Our success looked much more appetizing! Good luck! And have fun!