Sand Tarts

by Chris D. Gray

Sarah had been to Grandma's house many times before--for birthday parties, family picnics, Thanksgiving dinners, and just to pass the time away on lazy Sunday afternoons. But there was one season, one special time of the year when Sarah most enjoyed a visit with Grandma. That was at Christmas, and Christmas time was here once again.

As Grandma closed the front door behind her, Sarah found herself lost in a wonderland filled with all the fond memories of Christmas' past. Red and green decorations lightly tinted frosty white hung from the walls and adorned the windowsills. An eight-foot tall Douglas Fir stood fully ornamented in the center of the living room floor. A blazing fire crackled in the fireplace, while a ballerina music box played "What Child Is This." And the smells, oh the smells, they were simply wonderful! The Christmas tree's evergreen scent mixed with the fragrance of cinnamon candles and the aroma of cookies baking in the oven. "I wish it could be Christmas every day," Sarah thought to herself.

Then Sarah's eye caught glimpse of a peculiar decoration, one that she had seen every year before at Grandma's house, but nowhere else. Sarah didn't think much about it when she was younger, but this year she was six, and her inquiring mind wanted to know. "Why are there stars hanging from your ceiling, Grandma?" Sarah asked.

"There's a story behind those stars, Honey, " Grandma told Sarah. "Do you want me to tell you about it?"

"Oh, yes, Grandma," replied Sarah. "Please tell me."

"This story involves your mother," Grandma began. "

Sarah's eye's brightened.

Grandma went on, "When your mother was a little girl-in fact, I think she was right about your age, Sarah-she wanted to help me bake the Christmas cookies. I told her she could help me with the sand tarts. We measured out the sugar and butter and flour and whipped them up in the mixer. We put the lump of dough on the table and with a rolling pin rolled it out very thin. Then I showed your mother all the different shapes of cookie cutters. I had a snowman, a Christmas tree, a manger, a Santa Clause, and many, many others. But the shape that she chose was the star. So we cut the dough into stars, placed them on a cookie sheet, and popped them into the oven."

Grandma was a great storyteller, and Sarah could smell the cookies that were now baking in the oven. She felt like her mom was really there in the kitchen with them, just like in the story.

Grandma continued, "I told your mother that we would have to wait fifteen minutes until the cookies were finished baking before we could take them out of the oven. Your mother was impatient, though, and her curiosity got the best of her. While I was out of the room, she opened the oven door to see if the cookies were done. Much to her surprise the stars lifted off the cookie sheet, floated out of the oven and up toward the sky where stars belong. But they got stuck on the ceiling, and that's where they stayed. So every year I hang stars from the ceiling to remember the lesson your mother learned from her little mistake."

"What lesson was that?" Sarah asked inquisitively?

"It's a lesson," answered Grandma, "that is important for everybody-for children like you, for grownups like your mother and father, and even for grandmas and grandpas. If you are impatient and do something before its proper time, you won't get very far, just like the stars that got stuck on the ceiling. But if you are patient and wait for the proper time, the sky is the limit."

"That didn't really happen, did it, Grandma?" Sarah asked with a puzzled look on her face.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZ (oven timer)

"Oh, you know what that means?" Grandma asked as she jumped to her feet?

"The cookies are done?" Sarah blurted out as she, too, jumped to her feet in excitement.

Grandma nodded her head as she opened the oven door and slid the cookie sheet off the rack. The cookies were in the shape of Christmas trees. She placed them on the stove, but warned Sarah, "The cookies are too hot now. We have to let them cool before we can eat them."

"I can wait, Grandma," Sarah exclaimed. "I want to see my Christmas tree grow to the sky where the sun can be its star, and the clouds can twirl around it like a garland of tinsel, and the stars can be its twinkle lights. I can wait, Grandma, even if it takes a whole minute."

With a chuckle and a smile Grandma patted Sarah on the head and said, "Good girl, Sarah. I think your minute is just about up. Go ahead and take one."

So Sarah picked up one of the still warm, fresh out of the oven, homemade Christmas cookies and took a bite. And it was well worth the wait.

THE END

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