The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl

Circle Letters: The Story of an Old Order Mennonite Girl - A Memoir by Aleta M. Schrock

Sunday, December 25, 2011

TODAY: Christmas 2011

Merry Christ-mas! I am blessed.
This morning my husband sang in the Christmas Choir at church and I operated the computer that projected the words to the songs on the back wall above the balcony. So while the congregation thought the choir members were merely lifting their eyes in worship to God, they were actually reading the cheat-sheet I was displaying. The choir members knew the songs, but since we had a big production today, it was nice for them to have the words there in case of a moment of nervous blankness.
Initially I found myself working hard to have the correct verses displayed at the right time in order to not make a fool of myself. But then God reminded me: We don’t do things with excellence to exalt ourselves: we do things with excellence to better serve others. Through this attitude Christ is also exalted and served. The presence of God was wonderfully present and we were blessed through this time of worship in song.

One king held the frankincense.
One king held the myrrh.
One king held the purest gold.
One king held the hope of the world.
(Words and Music by Jeff Borders, Gayla Borders
        and Lowell Alexander, Arranged by Jay Rouse)

Thank you God for choosing to being born as a human and providing real life and hope for this world.
My husband and I cooked and baked this week. Some of it was done in bits and pieces during the day, some of it late at night. Friday night we came home from choir practice sometime past 10:00 PM and decided that if we wanted the pumpkin pies and milk tapioca made it needed to be then. So we reached into the cupboards and got out the pie pans that had last been used at Thanksgiving and that would probably not be used again until Easter.
I got out the milk tapioca recipe written on a lined index card in my grossmommy’s handwriting- a family favorite.
“Milk Tapioca,” my husband laughs. “It’s tapioca. Why bother adding the word milk?”
“Ah, but the word milk is essential,” I tell him. “In the spring we cook Rhubarb Tapioca. Tapioca can also be used to thicken fruits, making it Peach Tapioca or Cherry Tapioca… Yeah, I believe the word Milk added to the front of Tapioca is indispensable.”
We measured and stirred, baked and cooked, laughed at silly nothings and sang Christmas Carols. While the pies were in the oven, sometime around 1:00 AM, Daniel stood by the stove stirring my milk tapioca while I washed up the last of the dishes. Suddenly he remarked, “I had an extra can of pumpkin left over. I should have checked more carefully when I made that comment about the filling be more runny than normal. Let me see…” His brow furrowed slightly as he counted cups and teaspoons. “Yeah, I doubled everything except the pumpkin.” We discussed whether it was going to set properly or whether it would have enough of a pumpkinny taste. To our surprise it turned out quite well, slightly sweeter than we would have preferred, but quite edible.
While we were laughing at his cooking error, I tasted the milk tapioca. “Did you forget something, too?” he asked when he saw me walk over to the refrigerator and stare at the recipe posted there.
“It’s the salt,” I said while holding up fingers to figure out 1/8 times twelve. Grossmommy’s original recipe called for only two cups of milk. She always tripled it when she made it and I had those measurements penciled in besides the others, all except for the salt.
“It needs more than salt,” my husband commented licking a spoon. “It also needs sugar.” I added the salt and then went back to the recipe. The original recipe called for three tablespoons of sugar, multiply that times three. I was lifting fingers again.
“Ah, that’s the problem.” The tripled recipe needed one cup plus one tablespoon of sugar, but because I always add slightly less sugar, I had penciled in only one cup. That evening while cooking I had forgotten that the recipe already had less sugar figured into it and I added a scant cup of sugar. I might have gotten away with that if it wasn’t for the fact that tonight I was duodectupling the recipe. By adding two scant cups of sugar I had reduced the sweetness by somewhere between four to six tablespoons. I added four more tablespoons and the milk tapioca turned out perfectly.
 My sister-in-law and her college age daughter ate dinner with us after church on Christmas Day. My husband had made a delicious cranberry walnut stuffing. I told him he’ll need to write it down so we can duplicate it again next year. We had made extra of everything so we could send some home with our guests plus enjoy leftovers all week.
In the afternoon we all went to the Dollar Theater and saw the movie: In Time. My husband and I had seen it earlier this week and wanted to see it again. It’s thought provoking.
My husband’s job doesn’t allow him to be home every evening, so we are especially enjoying his time off. Many evenings we sat side-by-side on the sofa, each with our laptop, feet propped up or curled under, drinking hot tea or hot chocolate, nibbling on cheese and crackers or cookies… just being. Occasionally I would ask for a moment of his time and he would lean over to read or proofread my writing. Other times I would pause and listen to the latest research he had found on electro-magnetics and then an enlightening conversation would follow.
One evening, in honor of our first date, we drove through a local neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. We reminisced, comparing the two evenings. On our first date it was close to zero and windy. This year it was in the forties and we could comfortably roll down the windows to listen to some of the musical displays.
My life contains health, love and laughter. Indeed, I am blessed.


  1. Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and am really enjoying it. I live in Illinois, but spend a lot of time in the Middlebury/Shipshewana area. So I'm very interested in your blog. Please stop by and visit my blog when you have time.

  2. Hi Michelle,
    I'm glad your enjoying my blog. Middlebury and Shipshewana can be a lot of fun. I don't go there very often. One of my favorite places is the cheese at the Dutch Kase Haus.
    God Bless You!