Margaret Button: Fluffing required for perfect Christmas tree

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Being a Black Friday-phobe, I opted to work. I should have been out looking for a new artificial Christmas tree.

I could lie and say I need a new tree because I needed to down-size. In fact, in a fit of pique, I literally pushed, pulled and kicked the old tree down the cellar stairs last New Year's Day. It wasn't a pretty sight by the time it landed.

So, being in the market for a new tree, I scanned the many Black Friday sales flyers in the paper. One of the big box stores had a 6 ½-foot prelit tree that looked wonderful, for only $40. I ordered it online and arranged to pick it up at the local store.

Anticipating a large box, I put the back seats down in my Jeep.

"Where's the rest of it?" I asked the sales rep when he carried out a box a foot square and 4 feet long.

"This is all of it," he said. "You have to fluff it a bit when you take it out of the box." (Those words came back to haunt me many more times.)

When my son, David, came home for the weekend, he had it unpacked and sitting in middle of the living room in 5 minutes.

"L-o-o-o, loo-loo-loo, l-o-o-o, loo-loo-loo" he sang, mimicking a song from "A Charlie Brown Christmas." implying it was a scrawny Charlie Brown tree.

"We just have to fluff it a bit," he said. A sentiment echoed by my friend Nancy, who assured me hers looked the same way when she took her new tree out the year before.

So, I fluffed, and fluffed, and an hour later, it was still a Charlie Brown tree.

"It'll look better with the decorations on," David said.

I put a string of silver beads on the tree — the other tree had used four. I culled our ornaments down to about one-quarter of what usually went on the tree.

The tree still had gaping holes.

"How does it look?' I asked.

" 'I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really.' " David said, channeling Linus.

One of my favorite Christmas cookies are the Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms, so when a friend shared this recipe, I knew it would become a keeper. To make them even more decadent, use Hershey's kisses with almonds — just like an Almond Joy candy bar!

Kisses Coconut Macaroon Blossoms

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tsp almond extract

2 tsp orange juice

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

5 cups sweetened coconut flakes, divided

48 Hershey's Kisses

Directions:

Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add egg yolk, almond extract and orange juice; beat well. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in 3 cups coconut.

Cover; refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Heat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in remaining 2 cups coconut. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; immediately press chocolate into center of each cookie. Cool 1 minute; carefully remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Makes about 48 cookies.


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