Christmas Holiday Greetings
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Wishing the Hopkins High Class of '62 the Very Best of Holidays !!!

Wishing you the blessings of family and friends, over the holidays!   

This is a short greeting to share a bit of the Christmas spirit and to let you know we are thinking about you.   I would like to thank all of you who have contributed to the class newsletter this year and to warn the rest of you that you may be called on to share your experiences with the rest of us, in the future.   Please do not be shy...we are all more interesting than we think.   

Here are a couple simple and quick Christmas goody recipes that are senior-citizen-compatible (meaning that the directions are simple and they can be made quickly before we forget what it is we are doing...) 

Saltine Toffee Cookies  
4 oz saltine crackers
1 C butter
1 C dark brown sugar
2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line one 11x17-inch rimmed baking sheet or two rectangular pans with parchment paper and then place the saltine crackers in a single layer.
In a saucepan, combine the butter and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately pour over saltines and spread to cover crackers completely.

Bake at 400 for 5-6 minutes. Remove and sprinkle chocolate chips over top. Let sit for 5 minutes. Spread melted chocolate and top with chopped nuts. Cool completely and break into pieces. Makes about 3 dozen. They can be frozen (and are even good-tasting frozen!).  

Chocolate-covered pretzels
Your favorite pretzels
Candy melts 
Melt the candy melts over low heat in pot on stove, stirring as they melt.
When melted, dip pretzels in the melted candy and place on wax paper.
Sprinkle the sprinkles over the pretzels.  Let cool.  
If you hold one side of the pretzel and just dip the other side into the melted candy discs, it is not so messy, and with the sprinkles, looks very festive; you can do this in different colors of melted ‘chocolate’ and sprinkles for any holiday – 

Here is a story to warm your heart, courtesy of Facebook:

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words: 

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. 
I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had. 

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note: 

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I'm easy to find. I am wherever there is love. 

Love, God


From Mary Zakariasen McLeod:
I participate in an ongoing writing seminar, and each Christmas our instructor gives us an assignment for a written piece to be read aloud at our Christmas party; the assignment the year the following essay was written was "Christmas lights."  Though essentially true, it might contain some modest embellishments.  My familiarity with the homeless shelter comes from several years of serving there as an overnight volunteer.  

This Little Light of Mine
Technically, I was once a cherub, but only because I sang in the cherub choir at church.   We were second- and third-graders, with impossibly high voices and mostly bright blonde Scandinavian Lutheran hair.  Our mothers competitively starched and ironed our white cotton surplices and sent them back to church, where they were soon re-wrinkled and torn as we chased each other through the halls between services.  With huge red bows tied around our necks and big, white round collars, our angelic appearances belied secular behavior advanced for our age.

The music was not a challenge:  Jesus Loves Me, Silent Night, This Little Light of Mine, all songs simple and familiar.  Sitting still was harder.  We wrote notes on the offering envelopes, played tic-tac-toe, kicked, poked and tickled each other, pulled hair and had ours pulled.  The boys made up for their small numbers with the fury of their teasing.

On Christmas Eve, we were entrusted with candles, held chest-high, the glow lighting up our round cheeks and making eyes sparkle.  What were they thinking?  All of us behind the front ranks were blowing out our own or our neighbors’ candles, then relighting them, again and again, dripping hot wax over gowns and floor, burning our fingers.  It’s a wonder we weren’t all standing there with our hair on fire.  Best toys ever.

Pastor Stohl, the senior minister, had a kindly manner, and a serious and craggy countenance that cherubs easily confused with the face of God himself.  After we had sung and settled down, the pastor took the pulpit.  As he asked each one of us to open our hearts to make room for the arrival of the Baby Jesus, I imagined I could feel the tiny doors of my heart creaking open, and willed the Baby Jesus to choose mine.  It didn’t occur to me that the Baby Jesus could possibly live in more than one place at a time.  My worry was that my heart wouldn’t be quite big enough, literally, and he would have to choose larger accommodations.  The magic of that candlelit service gave my young, unformed religious thoughts an emotional kick-start that lasted through grade school.

Now, sixty years later, candles have a different meaning.  Each December, there is a vigil and march from downtown Minneapolis to Simpson Methodist Church to recognize and celebrate the lives of the homeless citizens who have died in Minnesota during the previous year.  Marchers carry candles, one for each deceased soul.  All had done the best they could to survive mental illness, chemical addiction, medical catastrophe, sudden job loss.  Simply being homeless had shortened their average life expectancies by thirty years.  Nobody should have to pay so high a price for falling into poverty.

It’s a long trek on a winter night from the Hennepin County Government Center to 28th Street where Simpson church is located.  It’s not a pretty place, this aging, rundown behemoth with creaky wooden stairs, wooden floors that have long since lost their varnish, mismatched furniture, graying walls, and not nearly enough lighting, but love and respect dwell there, and in the basement, an overnight homeless shelter opens its doors to sixty men and women, every single night.

Gradually, on this one evening each year, the chilled marchers straggle into the tired sanctuary for a nondenominational service of recognition and gratitude.  It’s the gratitude that brings tears, as social workers speak about individual clients who had done heroic, generous things for their friends and even strangers, the sharing of meager foodstuffs, arranging medical help for each other, letting families know where a loved one could be found.  Every client had been a unique soul, with virtually no possessions but always finding something to give, even when their own mental illnesses may have made it hard for them to trust and receive.  From anonymous bundles of rags, portraits of fully human, sometimes quirky personalities emerge and rise up so that we can see and observe all sides of them.  Finally, literally after the actual fact of their existence, they have received some attention and recognition for their humanity and equal worth.

Some of us in those pews also feel shame and regret at not having done more, or nearly enough, to befriend and support those who have so little.  We resolve to do better, to light another candle, this little light of ours.   

Mary Zakariasen McLeod

Thanks for being a part of our world!
To you and yours', Merry Christmas!  

Holiday Pretzels

Editor:  Karen Stenback
Copyright © 2013 Hopkins High Class of '62, All rights reserved.
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