Like I said, today begins Adam's annual chocolate turtle making. First, he cleans the peanuts, removing any skin, peanut dust or other undesirables from them.
The Jews did. I read about it just this morning, serendipitously. Remember the story of Esther? She was a Jewish girl, amazingly chosen by the Persian king to be his queen. But then an enemy of the Jews plots to have ALL the Jews from India to Ethiopia (that's basically all the Jews anywhere, back then, unless there were a few holing up in Athens) murdered. He sneakily got the king's approval to issue an irrevocable edict, that all Persians everywhere should murder any Jew they knew, and then they could keep the dead Jews' property.
Esther and her uncle were successful in exposing the plot, and although they couldn't get the edict revoked, the king issued a new one that basically empowered the Jews to protect themselves, defusing the possible violence. When the 2nd edict came out, the Jews were ecstatic -- can you imagine the huge relief?
A death sentence, an irrevocable one, was on your head, on your children's heads. Then, one day -- life is given back to you! What relief! And those Jews celebrated. Here's what Esther 9:19, 22 says: "Therefore the Jews ... hold the 14th day of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.... as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another, and gifts to the poor."
Christmas is such a holiday for us. The birth of the Savior turned our mourning, our death sentence, into a continuous feast of gladness, an enthusiasm of life restored. We should celebrate -- like the Jews! And we do -- we take gifts of food to each other, all over town.
I came home from more shopping, to find a gorgeous chocolate pie on the counter, from my friend Mary.