Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

advent and a vending machine - part II

Gifts: The gift to a country, a continent, the world; to forgive like Mandela. The gift of a Father, giving a son; to love like God. A doctor, a mother, a teacher, a parent, a brother, a child, a friend; giving laughter, a vaccine, a cup of coffee, clean water, a roll of chocolate salami (yum), a milk-producing goat, a book of poetry, a scribbled picture, a blooming flower, neon-striped socks, a loaf of bread. Giving is a good.


Large or small; the gift of life or just a gingerbread man; a gift is a gift and when given just to make the other person smile, is perfect. Personally, I have always loved thinking about what little thing would make another person smile. I remember in the 8th grade knowing that my friend Nicki really wanted a k-way jacket for her birthday. I spent all of my babysitting money to buy that $40 jacket for her, and I don't think I ever told her it was from me. It was so great just seeing her face light up; she was so happy and I never missed the money. Of course I don’t always get it right, but I try and I know I should do it more often than I do, like all good things (ie. working out, eating less and calling more), but I highly recommend it. 



Whether you’re West Jet or a neighbour or a boss or a friend…give something to someone only for the reason of making them happy. It makes them feel special that you thought of them and took the time to give them a gift. Isn't this, at the very simplest, the message of Christmas? Thinking of someone other than yourself.


Or give them twenty-four gifts! Introducing the Advent Calendar. Ms. potter made me one, I made one for great guy, max made one for bärbel, and loads of other Germans or those lucky enough to have German friends or relatives, received them too. Just in time, mostly, to open the first one on December 1. Yet another lovely German tradition…along the lines of Christmas markets und das Auto.



But, better yet than receiving one, is to make one. The process of thinking about and then going out to make or buy 24 little gifts, with the tricky task of finding them affordable and also small enough that they fit into a specially made, numbered paper bag or cloth sack, is priceless. Sure it’s work and time and money…but it is such a wonderful thing to receive; one little gift each day leading up to Christmas, in time to celebrate what many of us believe was the ultimate gift.


Or go simple, and give the gift of bread…"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Bread is one of the most common forms of food throughout all cultures, and since one of the most basic human needs is sustenance, giving a loaf of bread to someone symbolizes life; again, perfect for Christmas.



I recently came across a grassroots, non-profit organization called Spread the Bread. This international bread-giving organization encourages millions to ‘bake a difference’ and give bread (any kind, any size, with decorations or without) to friends, neighbours, heroes, those in need, etc. Schools, girl and boy scouts and just plain ‘ol community folks have run with this idea…and baked. Love it!


Here is my favourite bread recipe, which I have every intention to use to bake a difference. And, if all else fails I will run to my nearest bread vending machine, press a button, wait 10 seconds for a piping hot loaf to kerplunk down the chute, will try not to devour it in the car, but will give it away. Tis’ the season.

Fabienne's Bread Recipe:

3 cups white flour (or mix this amount with wheat, barley, or any other flour)
1 cup rye flour
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
2.5 pks of fast-rising yeast

-form a dip in the middle of flour, sugar, salt mixture and add half the yeast, mix the other half with warm water and add to the hole. mix and knead.

-let stand somewhere warm for 1 hour, punch out the air and knead a little bit more, let stand 1 more hour, form into a round loaf, cut lines with a knife into the top (see photo above) and bake for 10-15 minutes at 400°F, then 45-50 minutes at 375°F with a cup of water in the oven to make the crust nice and crisp.

-try not to eat the whole loaf when it's warm...it's hard not to!
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