Tomorrow, my husband and I hope to get a Christmas tree. We will decorate it with a flock of fake red birds, some snowflakes that my grandmother crocheted long ago, and a few tacky, but treasured, ornaments.

For me, it doesn’t take much to make Christmas wonderful. I don’t need gifts. I’d rather give them. And I surely don’t need treats. Except snickerdoodles that my husband makes.

Basically, to celebrate, I need just a few things: Family and friends. Movies (“Elf” and “Love Actually.”) Music (“O Holy Night” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”) A Christmas tree. And a candlelight service to remind me that I’m celebrating the gift of a child, who was born in a barn to save the world.

That’s about it. Today I baked cookies, but not for Christmas. They’re an everyday kind I call “The All-Time Easiest and Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever.”

I make them often. More often than I should. My grandkids love them. Even Wiley, who’s a cookie connoisseur. Once, when I gave him one made of oatmeal, Wiley said, “Nana, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but this doesn’t look like a cookie.”

OK, I’ll give you the recipe for my peanut butter cookies. I’ve posted it before, but if I don’t do it now, I’ll get a ton of requests. (Readers like to read, but they really love to eat.) Here it is:

Combine one cup of peanut butter with one cup of sugar and an egg. No flour. Mix well. Spoon onto a greased pan to form 12 cookies. Flatten with a fork. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cool, and try not to eat them all at once.

I gave most of the ones I made today to my husband and two of his buddies who are having fun playing music in our garage.

Listen. Can you hear them? I can. They sound good. The cookies probably help.

I like those guys a lot. I especially like what they mean to my husband. They’ve been his friends and fellow musicians for years. Making music is their way to spend time together. It’s like a book club without the books.

Last week, I spoke at a luncheon for a group of women who’ve been meeting monthly for more than 30 years to talk about books and life. During the pandemic, they began meeting only online. The luncheon was their first in-person meeting in almost two years.

I wish you could’ve been there. It felt like a family reunion.

One of things I love best about Christmas is the way it brings us together with family and friends and even with strangers, who smile as we pass on the street, and we smile back and wish each other, “Merry Christmas!”

On his first Christmas album, Andy Williams sang what would become a classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

It was 1963, a year much like the present one, when violence and conflict threatened to tear our lives and our nation apart.

U.S. military involvement in Vietnam was escalating. That August, more than 200,000 people marched on Washington, D.C., in support of civil rights and heard the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. And on Nov. 22, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Some years, more than others, we need Christmas to be the most wonderful time of the year.

A time that’s filled with family, friends, music and laughter, and candlelight services to remind us of why we are celebrating.

A time that makes us thankful for all we have, and happy to help those who have less.

A time that brings us together, with all our many differences, in peace and hope and joy.

Here’s wishing us all the kind of Christmas we need—a most wonderful time of the year. Yes, the cookie recipe is your gift.

— Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or www.sharonrandall.com.)

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