having trouble this year getting in the holiday spirit, and I don't really know why. I put up one decoration at work and hung the wreaths at home, and that's been the extent of my enthusiasm.
   I did some Christmas shopping last weekend, and it was fun to see the stores decorated. I enjoyed watching a woman at the Bon Macy holiday decoration store buying all kinds of ornaments for her tree. I didn't even mind standing in line behind her for 10 minutes while the clerk rang up her purchases because it was so much fun to see what she bought.
   The woman picked out lots of fancy ornaments, and no doubt her tree will be spectacular. Her daughter was with her, and she bought a beautiful angel tree topper, an angel with a luxurious red velvet dress and big gossamer wings. Between the two of them, they spent a small fortune. The clerk rang up $2.21 for my purchase. I did not make their sales day.
   I didn't even stop to watch the kids talk to Santa Claus and I always do that. Just didn't have the time. I had nine million other stops to make that day. Maybe that's the problem.
   I heard someone say the other day, after shopping at a huge mall back east, that it was overkill, it's just too much. I had the same feeling after visiting a big mall in Sacramento last month. It's too much stuff. It's buy, buy, buy.
   I'm feeling overwhelmed, and that just saps my energy. It makes me want to not do anything, and I don't have time to do nothing! And to top it off, I've come down with a nasty cold.
   Maybe once we get the tree up and I start wrapping presents the holiday spirit will grow stronger. Once I get out my mother's dented, old cookie cutters and bake her favorite Butter Cookies, I'll be better.
   I guess I should get busy doing that, because time is a wastin'. I need to hunt down some ho ho ho and get jolly pronto. Wish me luck!
   I did work up enough enthusiasm to make my friend Esther's Rum Balls. These are so good and so easy - no baking - you can whip them up in about an hour. And they certainly are spirited!
   Sharon Vail lives in Powell Butte. Her holiday spirit is already improving, even if her cold is not. Readers may contact her at svail "Cooking from the heart of Oregon"
   Esther's Rum Balls
   3 cups crushed graham crackers (about 2 cello packages)
   2 cups confectioner's sugar
   1/2 cup cocoa powder
   1 cup finely chopped nuts
   1/4 cup light corn syrup
   1/2 cup light rum
   More confectioner's sugar for dusting
   In a large bowl, thoroughly combine graham crackers, confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder and nuts. Pour in corn syrup and rum, and blend in thoroughly, making sure all the dry ingredients are moistened.
   Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in confectioner's sugar to thoroughly coat. I set them aside on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Store them in an airtight container.
   These taste best after they've sat for a week. The rum mellows nicely and they develop a wonderful flavor.
   I used brandy when I made them because that's what I had on hand. I suppose you could also use bourbon and they'd be just as good.
   Cook's note -- a food processor makes short work of crushing the graham crackers, but if you don't have one, place the crackers in a Ziploc bag and roll with a rolling pin.
   Makes about 70 1-inch balls.
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