I watched her move with intense curiosity now, I had no idea that something like love could be captured and put in a jar to flavor cookies with but this wonderful woman actually had a container of it in her kitchen and she used it on those cookies.

She opened the jar with a twinkle in her eye then reached in and pulled out a handful of a white powdery magic. She sprinkled this all over the sheet of freshly cutout cookies, and then she touched the tip of my nose with her 'love' coated finger.

In amazement I wiped it off and licked it from the back of my hand as I looked at the white stuff in the jar. A thin white powder with curly black sticks in it, I watched her place the sprinkled cookie dough in the old black oven to bake. 'Love' was sweet and delicious as I sampled it again and again with my fingertip.

I have not been able to recreate that flavor since, but it is exactly the essence that every childhood should taste like.

"Cookies must always include a lot of love so that they taste just right, but most especially at Christmas time", she said in her slight accent, and in my five year old wisdom I couldn't have agreed more with any philosophy so profound as I watched her put away the secret powder.

The holiday season is hard enough for a child to endure, with the excitement of temptations and anticipation and magical surprises and expectations, but I think it doubles for the child with a birthday close to a big holiday. Such is the case for me; my birthday comes on Christmas Eve day.

I dreamt the most wondrous things that night, the kind of things that only make sense to a young child. In my dream I remember Gramma hugging her 'Love' jar close to her chest and giving me a kiss right in the middle of my forehead and with a wide smile she slowly lifted up into the sky above the house, the whole time she was sprinkling that mysterious sparkling sweet powder from that jar over me and the house and even the garden. The very air smelled and tasted of Gramma's cookies.

I woke up on my birthday morning and for a flash of a second I couldn't tell if I was still dreaming, as to my wonderment I found that during the night a thick layer of snow had blanketed the world and everything outside looked like a glittery white wonderland.

I jumped out of bed at seeing all that glorious snow and squealed out loud in excitement, it was like a birthday present from Mother Nature herself. I ran into my Gamma's room and shook her arm wildly.

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