My yearly pilgrimage home from college usually brought me through forests of spruce trees. Each year, with the permission of local farmers, I had an opportunity to harvest pine boughs from their farms which I used to make wreaths. Cash was usually tight for me during holidays being a college student and so this was my yearly task: cut the boughs and when I arrived home, make wreaths to sell in the front yard.
When I arrived home this particular year, my grandmother was at our house. From the window sill of our bay window the smell of freshly baked cookies filled the crisp winter air. Walking up the sidewalk after my six-hour trip, I saw my family quickly come to the front door to greet me. Smiles and homecoming were always a welcome sight and soon after, I unpacked my car and set to work with metal hoops, attaching the boughs with thin wire.
“How are ya doing?” my grandmother said as I worked away at my second wreath. “Have a Kissmas cookie. They have chocolate on top of them,” she proclaimed as she handed a small plate to me. Grabbing a cookie, I took pause as the sky seemed as though it wanted to snow but just did not have the will to do so. “Do you think we will have a white Christmas, Grandma?” I asked as I munched away at my cookie. She stood up from the bench and looked up at the sky. She looked about at the ground and, for a moment, a brief smile came across her face. Turning to me, she said, “Well, I am not sure if it will snow, but I do know that if a certain family has anything to do with it, you can rest assured that it most definitely will.” And with that sentiment she began a story.
Long ago in Donbridge lived a family named Lucass who owned the mountain that towered over the entire town of Donbridge. The Lucass family came from a long line of miners and tradesmen having traveled with the likes of Marco Polo and centuries thereafter had secured all the rights to the uses of salt through binding agreements. So when the Lucass family came to the New World and settled into Donbridge, it was no surprise that they purchased an entire mountain and began their quest for their family’s cherished mineral. Soon after their mining operation began, they found salt in the great mountain and began to export it to all the neighboring towns of Donbridge and all the 13 colonies.
Now it should be noted that the Lucass family, having amassed a great fortune over these many years, were also the most giving people that most any county, town or community for that matter had ever seen the likes of. In fact, when salt was discovered, it was given to all the residents of Donbridge for free without payment or attachment of service required. When the church was destroyed by what many people dubbed the Creature of Tamarack Hill, the Lucasses paid for and built a new church for the town. Each Christmas, the Lucass family gave each family of Donbridge a wreath and with it, they would place a bag of salt that was colored red for the season. They were a giving family and everyone knew it.
One fall, the town of Donbridge was hit with a long-standing drought that seemed to never end. Most hoped that the winter months would bring snow, which, in turn, would saturate the soil in the spring. But as the month of December was coming to a close, the only thing Donbridgians saw was the everlasting gray sky with no snow in sight. Many people worried about the crop planting in the spring and many townsfolk were simply disappointed that Christmas was coming and no snow was to be had to add to the spirit of the holiday.
The Lucass family felt the sadness of the town, but they were occupied with their son, Chalion, who had just turned 10. For weeks, he had been suffering from a respiratory infection which seemed to never end. But Chalion, being the bright boy he was, never wanted to stay in bed and instead focused on his inventions and creating experiments. Knowing of the drought, Chalion figured that if he could make it snow, it might help his breathing and also cheer up the town. With his knowledge of science and his passion of fables, he decided to build a contraption that could, in essence, make the gray clouds of the sky produce snow.
On the eve of Christmas, Chalion rolled his contraption out of the family barn and pointed a great muzzle which he attached to the contraption at the grey clouds. He then loaded salt into the muzzle. Looking about the streets, he made sure that no one was around. He then waited for the clock on the church tower to strike midnight in order to keep the loud sound of his contraption to a minimum. When the clock struck 12, he pulled the cord of his contraption and a large bomb shook the entire town. The salt bomb went hurling into the sky and as it did, the gray sky turned black. People from all over the town came out of their homes to see what all the commotion was and as they did, snow filled the air, landing everywhere and blanketing the town in white. Smiles were found about the folks and Chalion, well, he never breathed easier.
When my grandmother finished, I just laughed a bit at her story and continued to toil away at my wreaths. By now, I had finished some 12 wreaths, and I began hanging them on a makeshift rack by the road. When I had hung the first five, a long stretch limo pulled up by our house and pulled up to where my wreaths were hanging. “Sir?” a man shouted from the back-door window. “Are these wreaths for sale and do you have anymore?” I smiled. “Why, sure I do. Just how many do you need?” I asked as I continued hanging wreaths. The man smiled back and said, “I will need 100. I have a big town that needs one for every house. Can you manage that?” My mouth almost dropped as I nodded my head yes. “Great,” the man said. “I will pick them up in two days. Here is a little something for your family and thank you!” he said as he tossed a small bag to me. The limo pulled away. The license plate said “Lucass” and when I opened the bag, I found to my surprise red salt. I turned back and looked at my grandmother who just shrugged her shoulders and smiled, turning back into the house.
Grandma’s Kissmas Cookies
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of shortening
2 tsp. of baking powder
4 cups of flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1 bag of chocolate kisses
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup of sour milk*
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine shortening and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Add in eggs and vanilla and stir. Sift all dry ingredients and combine with batter while adding the sour milk. Stir well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking. Lightly grease and flour a baking sheet. Next, using a teaspoon, portion out the dough onto the cookie sheet. Fit about 12 cookies per sheet or as desired. Push a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Finally, place the cookie tray in the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until edges are light brown. The recipe can yield up to 50 cookies. If so desired, the dough can be frozen for later use.
*Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the milk and let it sit for 15 minutes before using.