Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Live Nativity and Chocolate Macaroons

by Anita Mae Draper

I've been trying to write this post for a couple weeks to avoid the last minute rush - but ha ha, time has got away from me. Mainly because I caught some kind of flu bug at the start of December and didn't start feeling better until I went in for antibiotics two weeks later. Blech. And then the rush was on. Am I the only one who feels that being sick is so ineffective?

I'm writing this on Dec 23rd so it will be Christmas Eve morning by the time you read this. Tonight, our church puts on our 2nd Live Nativity production at the local Candiac Auction Mart and among other things, I've been busy working on the script. Because the auction barn had a big cattle sale on Friday, yesterday after church was our first chance to get into the auction mart for setting up.

But I'd like to show you what's involved in a Live Nativity, so I'm showing some photos I took of the set up and rehearsal, all taken on Dec 22nd starting at 1 pm and going on until 5 pm when the set was ready with stable installed, starry night sky stretched cross the auction sale boards, and first rehearsal over. Here's our process of turning an auction mart into Bethlehem...

Installing the backdrop - COTH Live Nativity 2013

Bringing in the Stable - COTH Live Nativity 2013

Costuming the cast - COTH Live Nativity 2013

Covering the Sale Boards with the Night Sky - COTH Live Nativity 2013

Angels exploring their digs - COTH Live Nativity 2013

Rehearsing the music - COTH Live Nativity 2013

As you can see, it takes a lot of teamwork for our little country church to pull off a production of this scale, but with God's blessing, we hope to repeat- and better - last year's performance.

With all this going on, I haven't had time for much baking. It's a good thing my family's favorite treat is something quick that doesn't need much preparation. It's one of the first recipes I learned from my mom when I was 13 yrs old:

Uncooked Chocolate Macaroons

Mix these together in a large bowl and set aside:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 6 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put in a saucepan and bring to a boil:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter*
  • 1/2 cup milk

Pour saucepan sugar mixture over rolled oat mixture in bowl and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper or parchment lined cookie sheets until they harden, although you must act quickly.
*If you use margarine instead of butter, you will have to keep in fridge or they'll be soft and sticky.

I'd show you a photo, but my family eat these so fast, by the time I reach for my camera, there are only bits of chocolate and coconut left on the tray.

It takes ingenuity and imagination to costume the cast of an amateur Biblical production. Do you recognize what some of the angels are wearing, or the wiseman that Karen and Dianne are dressing in the Costuming photo?

Anita Mae's News! - If you tried to order A Cup of Christmas Cheer and were told they were out of stock, you can try again if you wish because after a second print run, they're back in stock!

Wishing you a blessed Christmas season.


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their 4 kids. She writes cowboy stories set in the Old West, and Edwardian stories set in the East.  Anita Mae  semi-finaled in the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest, and finaled in the Daphne du Maurier, Fool for Love, Duel on the Delta and the Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests.  Anita Mae's short story, "Riding on a Christmas Wish" will appear in A Christmas Cup of Cheer, Guideposts Books, October 2013.  Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at   http://www.anitamaedraper.com/


  1. That sounds like a lot of hard work, Anita. I've never been involved in a Christmas pageant. I would love to see one live. The cookies sound wonderfully yummy.

    1. Yes, I can attest that the cookies are very yummy. :p

      And yes, it is a lot of hard work, but it's one of the main outreaches of our less than 50 member church, and almost everyone pitches in to do their part. A few intensive hours, but well worth our efforts.

      Merry Christmas, Suzie.

  2. I used to help with youth Christmas plays. What a zoo! But so much fun.

    Merry Christmas and congratulations on your second print run! :)

    1. Thanks, Deanna!

      A zoo? Haha - it was at one point when everyone had an opinion about something and was trying to be heard. Funny, too because the room was so high and so it was very noisy. But that only happened once. :D

    2. Thanks, Deanna!

      A zoo? Haha - it was at one point when everyone had an opinion about something and was trying to be heard. Funny, too because the room was so high and so it was very noisy. But that only happened once. :D

  3. Thanks for posting about the live nativity! Fantastic!! Wish I lived a little closer so I could see it!
    I haven't made those cookies in years! mmmm!! I didn't know about the difference between butter and margarine in them though! I'll have to remember that!
    Merry Christmas!!

    1. Elaine, I filmed the whole thing and will be working on transferring it to a couple YouTube videos soon. Because of the -24C weather, we had to use a stuffed sheep because real ones would have been too stressed, but this year we had a Roman soldier on a horse who read out a decree. Many people liked that.

      Merry Christmas to you too.

  4. We have a stove top cookie recipe as well, but I haven't made it in years.

    When we had our Children's play this past Sunday I was thinking about how much time goes into them. I did that for a few years, no I stick to supplementing the costumes. (I made puppets years ago and this year the puppets needed new costumes!)

    I'm so excited that your COCC books are into a new printing. How wonderful! Good for you, Anita, and Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day to you and yours. Hope Nick is feeling much better in the morning.

    yes, PS - Nick dislocated his shoulder so if Anita isn't on here commenting, you all know why!

    1. Deb, this year Karen dressed the angels in white wing-like capes which were really tree skirts. I thought they looked great!

      About the 2nd printing - thanks! That was a real bonus, except I felt bad for the people who had to wait and now won't get their books until after Christmas. But the stories are timeless and they'll be just as good next year. Plus, I have a 2nd shipment and now have 1 to give away during the hour you and I are hosting at Seekerville on Dec 31st. :)

      Re Nick - thanks for filling them in, Deb. Nick felt an oncoming seizure today and dislocated his shoulder in his attempt to make it to the sofa. We're back at home and he has to wear a sling for the next week. He is very disappointed that we missed the Christmas Eve service tonight as he was going to play his ukulele there for the first time, but if he keeps his arm still and allows it to heal over the next few days, he'll be okay to play it when he does Praise and Worship with Nelson on the 29th. Please pray for Nick if you think of it.

      Merry Christmas, Deb.


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