This is a fun interview and review of the book, The Gift of the Christmas Cookie :-D
Dandi takes kids back to the origins of another Christmas tradition by uncovering the sweetness of a time-honored Christmas rite with The Gift of the Christmas Cookie (Zonderkidz, October 2008). The boy in the book learns that the real gift of the Christmas cookie isn't just sharing with a homeless man, but sharing the love of Jesus with him too.
Deborah Chabrian, the talented illustrator, and her daughter baked these 100 angel cookies in the photo for the first through third graders at The Washington Montessori School in Connecticut. She showed the students the original paintings, sketches, research photos involved in bringing the words to life. She said the kids had lots of great questions and all said they were the best cookies they ever had! ;-)
Angie: How did you discover the origination of the Christmas cookie?
Dandi: Two years ago, I was researching Christmas traditions for The Legend of Saint Nicholas, the Christmas picture book that came out last Christmas. I got "distracted" in the way I love being distracted when I'm trusting that God is behind whatever is piquing my interest and I'd better pay attention. Somehow, I landed on an old book in the library, and it had about 250 words on the origin of the Christmas cookie and the background of the Middle Ages. My oldest daughter is a history buff, so I got her to delve more deeply for me. She came up with the link between stained-glass windows and these cookies, and the way people wanted to convey the message of Christ to folks in the Middle Ages who weren't able to read the Bible because they couldn't read. And so it began….
Angie: What Christmas traditions does your family make sure to follow?
Dandi: We are steeped in Christmas traditions in my house. I admit that we're quite a sentimental crew. One of my favorite traditions, of course, is baking cookies. I'm not a great cook or baker, but I do love baking cookies because it involves all of my kids (and my husband, too, if you count eating). The kids used to just decorate, and now they're probably better at the mixing and kneading and rolling parts than I am. We make plates of Christmas cookies and deliver them to neighbors. When I was a kid, my mom did the same thing with my sister and me. We used to take the cookies to a mental hospital and spend the evening visiting and singing and eating cookies. Those are some of my best and most vivid Christmas memories.
We also cut down our Christmas tree every year, trekking into the woods for it and hauling it back to decorate. We love singing and worshipping at our church and having Christmas music ring through the house all season. We go on walks or make snowmen, depending on the weather. We light our advent wreath and read passages around the firelight. And we tell stories of past Christmases, stories that just get better from year to year.
Angie: Your story takes us back into the middle ages. Would you rather live now or back in the medieval times-why or why not?
In my idealized mind, I can imagine a lovely time when people rode horses instead of paying for gas, when parents didn't have to compete with TV and computer games, when the world would have been simpler. Then I realize that if I'd lived in the Middle Ages, I wouldn't have been typing my answers for this interview; you wouldn't have read THE GIFT OF THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE; and I might not have been able to read the Scriptures on my own. I choose now.
Angie: Okay, I just have to ask, lol. Were you constantly craving cookies while researching and writing about them? ;-)
Absolutely! But then, I pretty much crave cookies most of the time, especially as the holidays draw near—that rich, buttery taste of a Springerle that melts in your mouth and…
Excuse me. I need to go now….
About Dandi Daley Mackall
Author of The Gift of the Christmas Cookie
A professional writer for more than 20 years, Dandi Daley Mackall has written dozens of articles for popular magazines and published more than 400 books for children and adults alike, with sales of more than three million copies.
In addition to her work with Zonderkidz, Mackall has been published by Harcourt, Tyndale House, Simon & Schuster, Dutton/Penguin-Putnam, HarperCollins, Thomas Nelson, Prentice-Hall and Broadman & Holman and others. She is a frequent guest on radio talk shows and has contributed hundreds of articles to magazines such as Guideposts, Christianity Today, Family Circle, Christian Parenting Today, Today’s Christian Woman, Focus on the Family, Worldwide Challenge and Marriage Partnership. Dandi has made more than 200 appearances on radio and television with ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates and national programs such as “The Harvest Show.”
In her new book, The Gift of the Christmas Cookie (Zonderkidz, Oct. 2008), Dandi teaches kids that the real gift of this time-honored Christmas tradition is not only giving to those less fortunate, but to also share the Gospel.
Dandi’s work with children and people in need spans the globe. She was a missionary in the late 1970s behind the “iron curtain” in Poland and has worked with Campus Crusade for Christ in various states and with inner city missions in Chicago and Los Angeles. Her family is involved in the Special Olympics. She is a frequent speaker at national conferences such as the Association of Christian Schools International Convention, Library Association conventions and Highlight’s writer’s conferences.
Dandi has taught creative writing, children’s literature, composition, parenting and English as a second-language (ESL) courses at the university level. She holds a B.A. in languages from the University of Missouri and an M.A. in English and creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She has also studied with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
She resides in rural Ohio, outside of Cleveland, with her husband and three children. She enjoys tennis and caring for her horses, dogs and cats. Learn more at www.dandibooks.com.
About the Illustrator
Deborah Chabrian was born in Illinois into a large creative family where holidays were always made special. Her artistic talents have taken her from “The Best Bunny” in kindergarten, to graduating with honors from Parson’s School of Design, to painting 500 book covers and hundreds of still life paintings and winning many awards.
In 2006 she was one of ten artists that won a competition to paint in residence at the Forbes Trinchera Ranch in Colorado, with a show in the Forbes New York City Gallery in 2007.
In 2008, Deborah won American Artist Magazine's Cover Competition and her painting appeared on the cover of Watercolor Magazine's Summer 2008 issue. The painting for the cover of The Gift of the Christmas Cookie was recently accepted into a juried competition, the “2008 Smallworks NA Exhibition,” which will open at The Greenwich Workshop Gallery in Fairfield, Conn. in November 2008.
Deborah lives in a 200-year-old farmhouse in rural Connecticut with her artist husband, Ed Martinez; children, Oliver and Gabriella; and miscellaneous cats, hamsters, and fish. For more, please visit www.chabrian.com.