Posts tagged Christmas

Christmas Cleaning Proves a Snap

How much do you do to get ready for Christmas?


December 1989


Christmas Cleaning Proves a Snap


In the November 11th issue of The Kansan my attention was caught by the headline “Holiday cleaning a snap with right methods.” Now here was a story after my own heart because if there is anything I need right now, just before Christmas, it is learning how to make housecleaning a snap.

In the past the only snap in housecleaning for me has been the snap in my back when I sink to my knees to scrub the kitchen floor. But I pride myself on being open to new ideas, so before I pass judgment on this new snap method of housecleaning. I’d better give it a try.

Reading on I found the first item of instruction was what to do if the guests were on their way and you discover a chip or two in your best crystal.

“Don’t panic,” was the advice, “just use emery paper on the small chips and nicks – use the finest grade available, moisten and rub over the chip until it smooths out.” This sounds sensible so I decided to try it. But first, I had to locate my best crystal (also, my only crystal). After a search I found it hiding behind a miscellaneous assortment of plastic cups and jelly glasses on a top shelf. It passed inspection with a lovely variety of chips that qualified for the smoothing out process.

Now, where was the emery paper? I located some sandpaper, but the article warned against using that – too rough, it said. Finally I discovered a circular piece of paper that I recalled having seen used on an emery wheel a long time ago. With high hopes I set to work. A half an hour later the nicks were still there but the skin had disappeared from the tips of my fingers.

One of the next enumerated jobs called for cleaning the outside of the house with a pressure washer spray that powers off dirt and grime. I sallied forth to check the outside of the house. My spirits lifted. “This will be a snap.” I said, “as soon as I find a pressure washer.”

Years ago we had one for cleaning the milking barn and it worked great when it worked. Now that I needed it I couldn’t find it so I decided to get through the holidays with an unwashed exterior rather than spend the money I had earmarked for Christmas presents for the grandkids on a new pressure sprayer.

Anyway, with my luck if I had the exterior walls of the house immaculate the Christmas Day weather would be too snowy and cold for the guests to gather around the outside of the house and exclaim, “Isn’t this siding the cleanest in all of Harvey County? Not a speck of dust on it.”

I turned my attention back to the paper and read the paragraph about cleaning the fireplace so Santa Claus could step out of it on Christmas morning with all his fur white and shining. Now I don’t have an authentic fireplace, but I do have an open fire in a Franklin stove and I’m sure Santa would not emerge spanking clean from the chimney no matter what gigantic cleaning feat I attempted. No use to try. So it looks like Santa will just have to fly back to the North Pole and put on a fresh suit of clothes after he makes his visit here.

The next instructions for snap cleaning called for shining up the household brass (doorknobs, etc.). They were tantalizingly simple – just use a lemon rind dipped in a little salt, rinse and buff before applying a coat of wax. Feeling a bit tired from all of the decisions I had been making I decided to sit down and make a glass of lemonade out of the juice of the lemon, before the rind and I went to work. When we did, I discovered my brass door knobs were too old to take a shine so I abandoned the lemon rind to the garbage disposal.

Now the final activity before the coming of Christmas was a speedy cleaning of the crystal chandelier in the living room. The directions were to cover each light bulb with a plastic bag securing it with a rubber band before spraying the pendants with glass cleaner. The zing of the rubber band snapping on to the neck of the light bulb might qualify as the elusive snap or the snap might be the housewife’s neck as she fell off the stepladder while stretching to get each pendant covered with spray.

Suddenly, I made a snap decision. If I did all this snap cleaning I’d have to forego buying the Christmas presents, writing notes on the Christmas cards and making the peanut brittle, tea balls and peppernuts that are family traditions. I’d never have the time or strength left to put up and decorate the Christmas tree or go to the Christmas programs or read the grandchildren the story of that long ago night in Bethlehem when Christ was born.

So I’m canceling cleaning the house by the snap method for now. Maybe, next year.


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Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming and it’s important to try and keep it simple. Though I’ve never attempted to make this many cookies or candies.


December 1978


Just over three weeks to get ready for Christmas is what the calendar says. Unbelievable, you say. The coming days promise to be as hectic and hurried as wheat cutting, milo harvesting or hay baling time, but at least they will be more fun.

Creating the atmosphere for the family holiday festivities rests squarely on the shoulders of the mother. Quite a load, isn’t it? To try to do too much and end up being cross and worn out when the big day arrives is a temptation difficult to resist. It takes will power to decide not to spread oneself too thin. Myriad activities in the home and in the community entice us to spend long hours on them. And that’s good as long as the hours are available, but if not, try to simplify.

Cookie baking is traditional and a lovely part of the whole holiday scene but do we need peppernuts, lebkuchen, tea balls, date pinwheels, snicker doodles, almond crescents, scotch shortbread, and decorated sugar cookies to exclaim over before eating them? Choose a few to make and let the rest go.

The same philosophy goes for candy making. Instead of bogging down in divinity, fondant, fudge, and peanut brittle stir up 1 or 2 batches and call it quits. Then go visit a neglected friend or read somebody’s kid (preferably your own) a Christmas story, or just take a brisk walk with your farmer if you can locate him.

For me, I’ve selected the 3 p’s for our Christmas food tradition peppernuts, peanut brittle, and popcorn balls. After I finish making these standbys, I try something different each year from what we usually have. Last time it was chocolate fudge with home grown black walnuts. That is ruled out this December – the candy was so sweet and creamy I overindulged, and the bulge I acquired is still bulging away on my waistline a year later.

Here is a simple recipe you might enjoy this Christmas.


Apricot Coconut Balls


1 ½ cups dried apricots, ground

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 cups shredded coconut


Combine apricots and milk. Let rest 30 minutes. Add coconut. Shape into balls. Keep refrigerated in covered container.


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