Seeing the pre-amble of Christmas unfold through the eyes of a two-year-old can't help but reignite any adult's waning Christmas spirit.
I say this from personal experience. After bundling up our granddaughter, Inara, in mountains of clothing appropriate to ward off all the colder temperatures, high winds, and torrential downpours that plagued Saturday night, we set off to catch the community's Christmas parade.
Leading up to the festivities, we talked with her about the magic of the night-time parade, telling the toddler-sized sponge (who absorbs everything we say, and too often repeats it back) that we would be hearing lots of music, seeing fire trucks and other floats layered in pretty lights, and watching dancers and bands marching down through the streets.
And we told her repeatedly about the piece de resistance (she's incredibly bright and speaks three languages already, but French isn't one of them, so she didn't get that part) that she was going to see Santa Claus.
Admittedly, all the hype ahead was likely wasted. She didn't seem too thrilled to be going out.
But the drive to the parade - meandering through the side streets en route - those sparkling brown eyes of hers quickly widened as we slowed to admire numerous homes lit up with Christmas trees and front yards adorning holiday decorations - from wood cutouts and twinkling lights, to inflatables and moving characters.
Snowmen seemed to hold the biggest appeal of all for the youngster, but a close second was her amazement with all the trees that - covered with countless strands of colourful lights - seemed to reach to the heavens. I guess, when you're under three feet tall, those lights on the trees might seem to go on forever.
Her chuckles of delight during the drive were enough to leave us smiling through the night. But the squeals of glee and her frantic waving and clapping, as each float passed by, successfully re-ignited that sometimes faltering Christmas spirit.
Thank you, Inara. You've restored our child-like appreciation and love for the holidays.
I can't wait for next weekend, when we take you to get pictures with Santa. And I can't imagine the magic that will come spending Christmas Day with you, too.
Speaking of kids and Christmas, I want to share a special holiday recipe with you that one day I, too, will share with my granddaughter.
Every year, a few weeks before Christmas, my mother would fill the cupboards and freezer with mountains of cookies, tarts, cakes, and other holiday treats that could easily be pulled out whenever unexpected company showed up.
Admittedly, I loved her shortbread and butter tarts, but my all-time fave was her peanut crunch.
1 cup crushed Corn Flakes
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
Place second mixture in pot on the stove, heat until sugar is dissolved (do not boil). Pour this on first mixture, and mix well.
Press into a 8"X14" pan - place in fridge.
Melt 1/4 cup butter
Add 2 tbsp Birds Eye Custard powder
2 tbsp milk
2 cups icing sugar
Beat until smooth, spread over mixture in pan
Melt 3 squares semi-sweet chocolate and 3 tbsp butter, then pour on top of squares.
Place in fridge until chocolate is hard.
Mom always doubled the recipe, since it freezes so well. But even frozen, it didn't last long.
. Check out all the great recipes and stories in today's special Family Christmas section. And watch for more recipes on Thursday.