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The only supplies we need at Christmas

All I need for Christmas is...
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Toffee balls taught a lesson

One recipe. Five ingredients. Just five. Yet it took three households to make. Allow me to explain.

Something we look forward to each year is a family favorite called Toffee Balls; jumbo marshmallows coated in a gooey toffee mixture and rolled in Rice Krispies.

We didn’t have much success for a couple of years when Mackintosh’s was no longer supplying toffee bars to Canada, just the individually wrapped candies. We tried calculating the equivalent number we would need but it just didn’t seem to turn out quite right. The toffee bars returned a few years ago (insert loud cheering here) so we can once again enjoy them during the holidays. But it was a close call this year.

Are you tiring of the phrase ‘supply chain issues’ yet? Me too. Added to distribution disruptions in my pursuit of toffee balls (I know, earth shattering dilemma, right?) is that workers at Kellogg’s have been on strike since October. Name brand Rice Krispies were quickly becoming the ghost of Christmas past.

We are hearing of specific items that will likely be limited and we are to prepare for more empty shelves in the New Year. It is going to be a bit of a shock for those who have never had to go without, but perhaps it’s a jolt to the system many of us need.

I’ll not forget reading the account of a father in a refugee camp who talked about the days the aid trucks arrived at the temporary camp where he and his family sought safety. He made sure he tucked a sharpened blade in his clothes because he knew he might have to fight off someone to get the food back to his family. Or the story of the grandmother in Somalia who searches for a few leaves to feed her grandchildren. Or the mother in Burundi forced to walk lengthy distances to access a bit of clean water. Or the family in Saskatchewan simply not having enough to make it through the month.

 Hundreds of thousands of people…no, let's be honest…millions of people around the world share similar stories. The lack of food, water, medication and shelter is a daily struggle for too many--and it is in sharp contrast to what I know to be reality. We’ve been in a supply crisis for a long time – a long, long time—a supply crisis not about lacking an item or two, but lacking the most basic of needs.

More than 2000 years ago Mary and Joseph were away from home, preparing for the birth of a baby, and taking shelter in the only place available to them. Yet in the intervening years we have aggrandized our notions of celebration to such an extent we think we need to supply containers full of baking, and have an abundance of gifts under the tree, with ornate decorations decking the halls. Such a far cry from the humbleness…and purpose…of that first Christmas, and no wonder it leaves some feeling defeated by the time, money and energy that it all takes, and frustration over not being able to access what they are told they should wa

 We know there are items we simply won’t be able to get in the days ahead. Items much more crucial than those interfering with a family baking list. Empty shelves have long been a reality for markets around the world. Bare cupboards have long been a reality for countless families close to home and across the globe. Yes, the reality is we have had supply issues for a long time—it’s just that now it is affecting those that haven’t needed to worry about it in the past.

I purchased marshmallows, condensed milk and butter. My sister found toffee. My mom had a box of cereal so together we made Toffee Balls. One favorite recipe. Five ingredients. Three households to make two dozen treats. Did we need them? No. But they remind me of the level of giving and sharing that is going to be required in the weeks, months…years, ahead.

Christmas is not about the trinkets or treats. We need to remember that as we confront what we can’t get. More importantly we need to recognize that this has been a daily reality for so many; not because the product was unavailable, but because it was unattainable.

The gift of Christmas is for all. It is hope. It is promise. Away in a manger no crib for a bed. Jesus came with nothing but gave everything He had. Christmas is the Savior coming into the world. Christmas is the greatest gift of all. Best of all, there’s more than enough for everyone. That’s my outlook.