No Hungry Hearts For Christmas – Part 3 of 4

23 Dec

While our blog doesn’t officially launch until the beginning of the New Year, we wanted to sneak in a little early & share with you a true Christmas story that was our inspiration for the No Hungry Hearts Here blog.

You will read about  about a group of deprived children…living at an orphanage…facing a bleak Christmas…who were blessed in a miraculous  way – and how God used ordinary people with willing hearts to do the extraordinary!

This personal anecdote will  be brought to you in 4 parts :

Part 1 on Tuesday December 20, 2011
Part 2 on Wednesday December 21, 2011

An Intermission on Thursday December 22, 2011

Part 3 on Friday December 23, 2011
Part 4 on Christmas Eve, Saturday December 24, 2011.

We hope that you enjoy it! Merry Christmas!

..The Honey Bunch

Part 3…

What was Christmas without the traditional cookies?

I remember my mom and grandma pouring over recipes that they only pulled out during this time of year.

We all had favorites, especially the Italian Biscotti and Sesame cookies.  Special sugar covered the Russian cookies, jelly filled the Rolled Butter cookies and I can’t forget about the Chocolate Chips!

The aroma of warm butter and oatmeal filled our homes.  Strufoli (an Italian dessert of special pastry dough shaped into bows and little balls, fried, dipped in hot honey, then covered with colored sprinkles) was always served – it was tradition.

Special tins were selected, some large enough to be used as a stool. The whole family became involved as we grew into our third generation of bakers.  Once the baking started it lasted for days, sometimes a week.

Gini, my mom (Honey), my grandma (Honey’s mom) and I started baking at once. Only this year it wasn’t for us. Without cookies for the kids, it wouldn’t be Christmas.

The local rec center heard about our project and wanted to help. They opened up their offices as a “cookie drop-off zone”. The young girls at the center pitched in and baked too. They shared their personal tradition of holiday baking by bringing their own family recipes. This was our Italian custom as well.  As they joined the festivities they too invited other neighborhood friends to help. This ensured that the kids had plenty to go around.

What a holiday spirit of giving. Nothing was withheld! All relatives, friends, and even strangers who heard about the kids, insisted on helping.  Gini, baked close to 100 dozen cookies that Christmas just by herself!  Everywhere you looked tins, platters, cakes, candy and every baked good you could think of filled the rec center offices. Goodies covered file cabinets, desks, typewriters and chairs. It was a sight I will never forget.  The office workers will always talk about the mouth watering smell of an Italian bakery.

Remotely overlooking the Hudson River in southern New York is where the children’s home was located. A 100 year old field stone castle, called The Mission, housed all of the children and staff.

As we drove to and from St. Michaels, 60 miles from home, we passed small town stores, restaurants and country shops. Our heart’s desire was to visit every venue along the way and allow the merchants an opportunity to give.

Mom and I did exactly that.

Everyone that we asked opened their hearts and helped. Grams Kitchen, an old fashioned bakery, baked us homemade blueberry and apple pies for the kids each day. Other merchants gave gift certificates for clothing, haircuts, jewelry and all kinds of unusual fare.

This was truly another blessing.

Fish, a friend who owned a five star restaurant (also one of the best in the state – and yes that was his name), was moved by compassion.

He made his place available for all the kids to go in small groups making them feel special. He always wore a long rubber apron which wrapped around his jeans and fisherman boots. His flannel shirt framed his long black ponytail and beard. He had eyes that glistened with warmth and a gigantic heart of gold. His restaurant had a sawdust floor with newspapers under glass tables – contrasted by exquisite cuisine, rare fruits and desserts of excellence. The kids loved it!  He also gave the kids gift certificates to other cafes and restaurants – the finest the county had to offer.

With two days until Christmas, I couldn’t imagine things getting any better for the kids.

Boy, was I wrong!

Read Part 1 of No Hungry Hearts For Christmas
Read Part 2 of No Hungry Hearts For Christmas
Read Part 4 of No Hungry Hearts For Christmas


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