My mom came over this afternoon with a recipe for making elf biscuits. We’ve made cookies for Santa and food for his reindeer, but we’d forgotten his hard-working elves!

Elf biscuits are simple to make and start with a graham cracker crust.

Yup, Eric was down with that. Graham crackers are his favorite.

Next there is a glorious melting of butter and sugar on the stove. Pecans are pounded and throw in. They get candied.

Then the mixture is spread onto the graham crackers and then everything gets baked.

Once out of the oven, the graham crackers reach new heights of yumminess.

So fun!

Katie and I also worked on our Christmas desserts while Eric napped. We are making a chocolate torte and a cranberry almond tart for our family dinner this year. The chocolate torte we’ll have to make tomorrow before the celebrations get going, but I am excited to make it even though tomorrow is very busy. I’ve made it for a wedding shower and for the McGaugh Christmas party in years past. It is a special dessert to me, because it was one of Uncle Eric’s favorite Christmas desserts that my mom used to make for our big family parties when I was little. The cranberry almond tart is many steps long, yet the beautiful scarlet cranberries on top look so festive and Christmassy! Katie and I finished making all of its components today: shortbread crust, almond pastry cream, and cranberry topping.

Picking a lemon from our little tree for the almond cream…

Whole cranberries and almond paste…

Sampling some of the almond paste, Katie declared, “Almond paste, I love you so much I think I will marry you!”

Yep, that’s pretty much how I feel about almond paste, too! Isn’t it delicious?

Tomorrow morning we make our special and traditional Christmas Eve breakfast: panettone, eggs, sausage and fruit. In years past, I have made French toast out of the panettone using an egg nog custard, but I think I might just serve it toasted tomorrow—which is also a treat. This year we’ve been reading Tomie de Paola’s (LOVE him, a great children’s author, we own several of his) “Tony’s Bread”— a fanciful take on the origins of panettone. The panettone is now definitely more interesting in Katie’s eyes as a result!

We also remember that this Christmas Eve will be especially bittersweet, as it marks exactly one year since we lost Great Grandpa Yoder. In so many respects, last Christmas Eve is still so vivid for me, and the emotions so palpable, that I cannot believe we’re back to it already. Every night this season, the kiddos and I have added “Silent Night” to our lullabies, as it is the song that most reminds me of spending time with him every Christmas Eve and also of his passing into a sleep of heavenly peace last year. There will be much on our hearts tomorrow, I know. My greatest hope is to have the wisdom to see the balance between moments of poignant melancholy and moments of joyful sweetness.

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