Rolling in Christmas

Emily Bialkowski
Managing Editor

My neighbor Betty should be on the “Sweet Genius” television show. It’s a reality show that offers both amateur and professional bakers the opportunity to compete for $10,000. During the one-hour broadcast, Ron Ben-Israel challenges four chefs to create scrumptious sweets with surprise ingredients. The chefs are given the ingredients, an inspiration and a limited amount of time; with those three elements as a guide, they must create a delectable chocolate, candy and cake dessert. The winners from each round advance for a final test, with Ben-Israel crowning the remaining chef Sweet Genius.

Betty dropped off a few of her treats at our house for Christmas. The first night I ate every one of these funnel cake cookies she made. I’m not sure that’s what they’re called, but they looked like mini funnel cakes to me. The next day I hit the lemon poppy seed cake. That’s taking me more than one evening to polish off. Brady and Sophie have been hitting the cookies.

It’s gestures like Betty’s that make the holiday season bright, a season that sometimes sends people into a bummer mood. My husband can get a little down during the holidays. He says that years ago Christmas was a chaotic, joyful party in his hometown with people wandering in and out of houses for visiting. He said one day it just stopped, and he hasn’t felt the same since. He tries to keep his head high for our daughter, but I know it can be a drag for him.

Despite his disposition I knew we, as a family, needed to stop by the community Christmas meal at Elsie’s and take pictures for the newspaper, visit and offer our help.

From the moment my hand touched the door I knew it was going to be a happy experience. Bonnie Laumb assisted me in opening the door and asked, “Is it three for dinner?” I explained we were there to help and take pictures and she ushered us in. There was no shortage of volunteers, and they encouraged me to take pictures. Sophie really wanted to help, so organizers found something for her to do: go from table to table and offer homemade cookies.

Sophie made her rounds in the two dining areas with cookies and I did so with my camera. Brady hung tight by a group of volunteers and took it all in, guiding Sophie when necessary. About 45 minutes into our visit I had plenty of photos. Everyone encouraged us to stay and eat, but instead we asked for to-go boxes to visit one very special lady.

Brady’s Grandma June will be 95 years young in March, and it was still early enough to make the hour and fifteen minute drive to see her. We didn’t know what to expect at the Christmas dinner, and we were quite ready to roll our sleeves up if help was needed, but there were already so many capable volunteers that I knew visiting Grandma would be a great way to spend the remainder of Christmas Day.

To be able to deliver a complete Christmas meal to Grandma was wonderful. I’m really grateful such an option exists in Caledonia. With having to take pictures for the newspaper, it would have been logistically tough to prepare a meal ourselves to take to Grandma. She was naturally very happy to see us and especially liked the pumpkin pie that came with her dinner.

Brady seemed a bit happier, too. Scores of visitors didn’t roll in and out of Grandma June’s house that afternoon like they used to in the old days, but we did.


You can contact Emily Bialkowski at [email protected]