Grandmas, Cranberries and Cinnamon Rolls Part II

My favorite Christmas memories from childhood stem from the heritage of faith and love shared by my grandparents.  As I remember my Grandma B, this scripture comes to mind, clearly articulating her testimony as being a woman of faith. 

II Timothy 1: 5-7

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Gram was a tiny, meek, compassionate lady. Her favorite Christmas carol was, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” written during the Civil War. Take a minute and look up the words. It is a pretty powerful song.  She was born during WWI and had her babies during WWII. She truly desired peace on earth and had goodwill toward men.

She was plagued by MS and depended on a wheelchair by the time I was in high school. She loved and prayed for us as long as she lived.  When my sister and I were little, she would encourage us to make cards for the elderly and frequently took us to sing to Granny Thompson, who was over 100 years old and lived in a rest home. I remember her pushing us up closer to the railing of the bed and encouraging us to “sing a little louder” so the sweet granny could hear us. 

Grandma B was always prepared with a meal for a shut in, often took in laundry to help out a friend and showed love in every way she knew how. She was a living picture of James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.(NIV)

From the time I was able to reach counter, she would give me free reign of her kitchen. About eight years old, making a cake, waist length hair hanging down in front of me, the mop of hair caught in the hand mixer. The mixer rolled my hair right up to my scalp. All I could do was scream for help. My mom rescued me, calmly unplugging the offender and retreating to the other room to laugh in private. I still have a dent in my forehead! … One of my best Grandma’s Kitchen memories.

Every Christmas, we would grind cranberries for Gram’s special cranberry relish. Eventually, the cranberry relish became my job. When I made it for about 150 senior citizens, they recognized it for the “old fashioned” recipe it was but didn’t believe that I made it.  Since then I have found a much easier way to make her special recipe without using a grinder. I use my Vita-mix, but any blender will work. 

This recipe is not a gourmet dish, but it is my grandmother’s recipe, and in making it every year, I honor her and share the love of cooking and sharing my heart with my family and friends as she did for so many years. 


  • Grind (or blend in your blender) one bag of cranberries 
  • Mix with one can of mandarin oranges (don’t blend these)
  • Add one large package of orange Jell-O prepared with called for hot water and no cold water
  • Add sugar to taste. 
  • Refrigerate until firm.
  • ADD-LIB 
  • Add raspberries or other fruit 
  • Garnish with fresh mint and oranges
  • Put in a Jell-O mold & make it fancy

My name is Keri Willis. I am a semi-retired educator. I spent a great deal of my career working with adults with developmental disabilities and many years in elementary education, in the classroom and as an administrator. My main ministry now is coordinating the women’s ministry for our church in San Diego, CA. I have been married thirty-four years and have two grown and married children. I now have a head of full grey hair and good ideas.
I believe we are created to use our gifts and to be creative. That comes in many forms for me. I love to woodwork and use power tools, design, decorate, garden, and create new recipes. And I love to write. One major lesson I have learned in my writing journey is that I need to be still and listen to hear God’s voice before I am prepared to put into words the message he has instilled in my heart. This has been much easier since I am no longer working full time, but it is so easy to get distracted and not listen, which almost always ends with an empty page in the form of writer’s block.
While I have written many articles for newsletters and local newspapers, I did not consider myself a writer until I self-published my first book, Teapots and Power Tools.…/dp/1466458763/ref=sr_1_3…
The idea emerged as I was working on a project in my garage. I had worship music playing, power tools out and saw dust flying. I glanced up and saw my delicate teapot sitting on my router table. The message was clear. Sometimes we are using the power tools God gives us and sometimes he just wants us to be still and have tea with him. The book became the foundation for a women’s retreat, and then my amazing niece helped me work through publishing it on Create Space (now KDP).
At least five other projects are in different stages of production. I joined hope*writers to help motivate me and keep me focused and accountable. I am still trying to figure out the whole website and blog thing. That is my next goal for myself; that and finish writing at least one of my projects!
Teapots and Power Tools: Effectively using the tools God has equipped you with, while taking time to “Be Still and Know That He is God”
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