There are some who find it difficult to celebrate Christmas in the desert. The lack of snow, constant sunshine and cactus tax their childhood visions of sugarplums and pines. So is this a Christmas post or just coincidental? I invite debate. It began months ago. In my desire to engage locally, I was exploring an opportunity called Donors Choose. Their focus is education – something our family believes can be an essential determinative in quality of life.
Donorschoose.org operates in the U.S. but there are other sites such as Kiva.org that have an extended reach. The site allows me to select the state and the type of project that I’m interested in funding with a microgrant. My combination? Arizona and gardens. I was immediately connected to two projects both in high needs areas where an elementary teacher wanted to set up a garden for her students. One was in an effort to show where food comes from. The second was in an effort to help a group of second graders heal after the loss of a classmate. Donorschoose.org is a great interactive tool because it allows me to correspond with these teachers and each of them to post photos and notes for me and the other donors. I’ve seen how their gardens grow.
I doubt that this was planned for the holiday season but this week a package arrived from Donors Choose. Inside were letters – letters to Agrigirl from the students in one of those schools thanking me for the opportunity to have their garden. They had drawn pictures of their garden boxes and I was delighted to get them.
In our home, we celebrate Christmas even in the desert. Yesterday was the fourth Sunday of Advent. The story we received was that of the angel Gabriel, sent by God to a city named Nazareth to visit Mary. Having found Mary, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
What a lovely package of letters I received!
Perfect Christmas Salad
Torn from an ancient copy of San Francisco Focus in the 80s.
- 3 large bunches of watercress
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- salt and black pepper
- 2 or 3 red pears (apples will do if you must)
- 8 oz Maytag blue cheese crumbled
- Discard the large watercress stems and wash the leaves in cold water. Refrigerate to chill.
- Place pine nuts in a small skillet over low heat and stir constantly for five minutes until roasted. Remove from pan.
- Combine oils, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk and set aside.
- Just before serving, core the pears and slice thinly.
- Combine the pear with the chilled water cress and pine nuts.
- Toss with the vinagrette and arrange salad on individual plates.
- Top with crumbled blue cheese.
Merry Christmas and may you enjoy a blessed holiday season wherever you celebrate! May you see the holiday in everything.