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Is it time to put Christmas out yet?

Is it time to put up the Christmas Tree yet? Well, as I was getting ready this morning it hit me, I have so much stuff and a new house that I need to get busy on getting things from our shed to our house.

I mentioned this to my husband in passing, but no response yet. You see, I have family coming in for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I want to be ready for the holidays and don’t want to do this while they are here. Is this a good excuse? I think so. Plus, we can enjoy it for a bit longer than a couple of weeks.

This is my favorite time of the year. I love the fall weather and sitting on my front or back porch drinking coffee and soaking up the beauty of living in the country. I believe I hear God better out here. When you are in such a peaceful area, you are at peace and it allows you to hear God better.

My husband did ask me if I was going to decorate the outside of the house. Well, yes I am. He has always wanted to do the lights timed with music and has talked about it for years. We did have the perfect house for that but now living in the country he is going to have to come up with something else to do.

This is a new chapter and new journey in our lives and I want to do it right. I am sure I have enough stuff to decorate four houses, but then being in a new chapter, I may need to get some new things.

This time of the year is something I remember so well. My mom has a huge family and we would always be together. To have all the family back together one more time for the holidays would bless me beyond measure. My kids have never experienced it. I wish they could.

When I was growing up, we split between my mom and dad’s family. But they all lived close, so we could do one one day and they other the next. The house was filled with laughter, games and food. There may have been a bit of what I call “intense fellowship” from time to time. But, for the most part, all was well.

The kids would play outside in the snow, come in wet and cold just to warm up and go back out. We would get together early in the night and stay way after midnight. Time got ahead of us and we didn’t even notice.

Holidays aren’t about gifts for me. Though I love to give them, I would rather have nothing under the tree and a house full of family with me cooking for them.

However, there is one thing I must have — a stocking. There have been years that my husband and I decided not to give gifts to each other but he knew my stocking better be stuffed.

Stockings are magical to me. The joy of waking up and going to get your stocking first and the surprises inside. The thought just warms my heart. If you spend the night at my house on Christmas Eve you will have a stocking to open in the morning. No matter how young or old you are, you will get one.

Enjoy this start of the holiday season. The real reason for the season is Jesus, and we must never forget this. So let’s focus on the birth of Christ and enjoy our family also.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Ingredients

4 lbs Red Potatoes, cut into quarters
1/4 cup Butter (Softened)
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 cups Cheddar Cheese, Freshly grated (Divided)
15 slices Bacon, cooked and crumbled (Divided)
3 Green Onions, chopped
Servings: servings

Instructions

Boil potatoes in a large pot of water for about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain well and return potatoes to the pot. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Add sour cream, butter, milk, salt, pepper, bouillon chicken base, garlic salt and garlic powder to the mashed potatoes. Mix well with a mixer or large spoon.

Stir in 1 cup of freshly grated Cheddar Cheese and 2/3 of the crumbled bacon.

Place the potato casserole mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking dish. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and evenly sprinkle the top of the casserole with a cup of grated Cheddar Cheese and the remaining crumbled bacon. Return casserole to oven and bake for 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Scatter green onions on top of the casserole and serve.

Tina Specht is co-publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. She shares her thoughts and recipes each Thursday.