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Sara Foss's Thinking It Through
by Sara Foss

Thinking It Through

A Daily Gazette life blog
Her column and blog rolled into one

Bonded by tradition

Because Christmas is a time of tradition, any change to my holiday routine tends to throw me for a loop.

For instance: As soon as I arrived at my parents’ house in Maine, I headed to the refrigerator to grab a handfull of buckeye balls, my favorite Christmas cookie. Buckeye balls are small, chocolate covered balls of peanut butter and sugar, and they are divine. I was actually considering making some this year, but one thing led to another, and I never quite got around to it. Which didn’t strike me as a huge problem, because my mother makes buckeye balls every year, and always gives me some to take home.

But this year, I couldn’t find the buckeye balls.

“Where are the buckeye balls?” I asked, after a search of the refrigerator proved fruitless.

“I decided not to make them this year,” my mother said.

“But they’re my favorite cookie!” I said.

“I warned her,” my father said, as if to imply that this exact conversation was something he had foretold.

“It’s fine,” I said. “I don’t need buckeye balls. There are plenty of other cookies.”

When my sister Rebecca arrived, she, too, expressed shock at the lack of buckeye balls.

“No buckeye balls!” she gasped. “Everyone knows that buckeye balls are your favorite cookie!”

“It is a widely known fact,” I agreed.

“Enough,” my mother said. “I will make buckeye balls. But only half a batch.”

I insisted that this was unnecessary, but of course I was delighted. And when the buckeye balls finally made their appearance, I grabbed several and stuffed them in my mouth. Every time I ate one, it was a reminder of how much my mother loves me.

Christmas is a time to spend time with the people you love, and give them things.

Traditionally, my mother has received more things than anyone else in our family.

But this year she passed her crown off to my 6-month-old niece, Kenzie, who took home an outrageous amount of toys, books and clothing, including several Boston Celtics onesies and a “Puff the Magic Dragon” pop-up book.

Buying presents for a baby is about love, but also indoctrination, and I am already looking forward to seeing Kenzie in her Celtics gear, singing “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

Right now, Kenzie lacks the patience and the ability to open presents by herself, and her parents had to do the heavy lifting; by the end of the morning, they looked exhausted. Though I tend to resist change, I’m eagerly anticipating next Christmas, when Kenzie will be capable of wreaking havoc.

Having a baby around revitalized our family Christmas.

The holiday seems exciting again, and it will be a treat to spend it with someone who believes in Santa Claus and elves and flying reindeer. I stopped believing in those things long ago, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to believe in, or that it’s not fun to be around someone who believes in them.

Kenzie actually behaved far more graciously on Christmas morning than I did, so perhaps she can teach me a thing or two about the Christmas spirit.

The big gift from my parents was a GPS for my car, but when I saw what it was, I frowned, because putting a GPS in my car is something I’ve always been opposed to. In general, I tend to resist electronic gadgets and I find the idea of a world where you can’t get lost somewhat troubling, for reasons I can’t explain.

“Remember how long you resisted getting a cell phone,” my dad said.

“You do a lot of driving,” my mother pointed out.

It is true that on a recent trip to Gloversville I got totally disoriented and ended up in Johnstown, and that a GPS probably would have prevented this situation. And it’s also true that I might take a vacation this spring that involves driving all over the Deep South, and that a GPS would be incredibly useful on a road trip that involves stops in different cities and different states.

But none of this made it easier for me to embrace the concept of the GPS and all it represents: a rapidly changing world, the encroachment of technology into every sphere of life.

However, over the past few days I’ve come to understand that my parents gave me a GPS because they love me, because they want to make my life easier and because they worry about me getting lost. A GPS probably seemed like the perfect gift for someone who drives as much as I do. So I predict that I’ll eventually adjust to the GPS, and that using it will become mundane and routine.

A gadget will be much easier to adjust to than a world without buckeye balls, that’s for sure.

Foss Forward makes a weekly appearance in print, in The Gazette’s Saturday Lifestyles section. You can email Sara at

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