I realize that it’s only the 2nd of December, but I’m usually full-on in the holiday spirit by now. This year, it’s been tough finding that magic. I just can’t seem to get that holiday inspiration.
Last night, we went to our little city’s annual Christmas parade (it’s tradition and usually helps), and just as soon as I started to maybe feel a tiny spark, it was crushed by the eons of people that wouldn’t allow me to back out of a parking space while trying to exit the bank parking lot after the parade. I mean, there were some folks that were SERIOUS about not letting me back out and forced me to be the last car (of what seemed like hundreds) to get out of the parking lot.
Grumpy from all of that (and from having to deal with the fact that I dropped the iPad while getting ready to go to the parade) I was busily cleaning up the kitchen while I overheard my wife calling to me. She was hurriedly reading off a list of things that one of the professional organizations she’s a part of wanted to get for kids for Christmas. Each year they adopt a few families that are less fortunate and help provide them and their kids with Christmas presents and food. She was calling to me and asking which things I thought we should buy for her to donate for the kids. Jack was beside her on the couch engrossed in watching “The Santa Clause” for the first of many times this holiday season. “Clothes, a doll, pajamas, a movie, a video game, a bike,” she read out loud. Then, as I round the corner to see the list for myself, Jack shakes from his movie trance and says, “Momma, I have the BEST idea!” “Hang on buddy,” she says. “Daddy and I are trying to decide what we can buy for some kids who might not get Christmas presents this year.” “No, Momma,” he interrupts. “That’s what I’m talking about! You know that bike and helmet that I won at school,” he says. “Yes,” she says, knowing how proud he was of that bike. “Well, I can give that little boy that bike. I have the other one that Gamma and Papa gave me for my birthday, so I don’t need two,” he says.
My jaw dropped in amazement. He had sold the most candles in his school fundraiser and was so proud of winning that bike that he insisted on riding it over the fancy trick bike his grandparents had given him despite the fact that the new bike he won was a little too small for him. I sat down beside him and said, “Jack, are you sure you want to do this. You sure do love that bike. You realize you won’t get it back, right?” “Yes, Daddy. I know. But that little boy might not get anything for Christmas.”
I glanced over at Heather and saw the tears welling up in her eyes as I tried my best to choke them back myself. “My sweet boy, that is an amazing things that you can do for someone else,” I said. We hashed out the details and went over and over telling him how proud we were of him and as he gave me a goodnight hug, I squeezed him a little extra tight and realized that the simple act of my 6-year-old had done what had been trying to do for a week – get in the holiday spirit.
He reminded me that all the holiday music and decorations in the world can’t really put joy in your heart if you don’t have the real meaning of Christmas in your soul. Today, I’m grateful for the wisdom of that 6-year-old and I pray that his willingness to serve others never leaves him.
Y’all this Hamburger Stroganoff is so easy and delicious, I think you’ll really be surprised. It’s a great way to feed your family a hearty meal on a budget and comes together in just about 30 minutes. And you can customize it to your family’s tastes. If mushrooms aren’t your thing, they can easily be omitted. You can also add some finely diced carrots for color, texture, and flavor if you like. Y’all enjoy!
Easy Hamburger Stroganoff
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14-ounce) can beef broth (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 (.85 to 1-ounce) packet brown gravy mix (the weight varies by brand)
- 1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 (16-ounce) package wide egg noodles, prepared per the package instructions
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat. Drain and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped onion and mushrooms and cook until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms start to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.
- In a small bowl, combine the broth and the gravy mix. Pour it into the skillet and add the can of undiluted mushroom soup. Stir in the sour cream and the cooked ground beef. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened - about 8 minutes. Serve over hot egg noodles.
Stacey, I made this for dinner tonight for the first time and we really enjoyed it! Paired green peas and fresh sliced tomatoes with it. Simple, flavorful, and not a lot of dishes which is a win for a week night. My husband called it “a keeper.” Thanks very much for all the practical and delicious recipes!
Awesome! Love hearing that!
Joan in VA
It’s 2021 and your Christmas story is still one to be told over and over.
One the recipe front, since I am allergic to mushrooms, stroganoff without mushrooms is a true challenge. However, your basic recipe without the little poisonous pellets works and makes a very nice beef with gravy for the noodles. I have made it several times over the years, and keep going back to it.
Ha! Thanks, Joan!!
i love the Christmas story! what a sweet boy you have! also, made this beef stroganoff for Christmas Day supper! it was great! thanks for all your recipes and stories!
happy new year and best wishes for a great 2021!
Thanks, Murray! Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Happy New Year!!
Okay. So you wrote this nearly 4 years ago. Yet, I’m sitting here wiping tears away after being so moved. I have 35 and 31 yr old (amazing) sons, and I guess – being in the deepest dread, fear and trepidation after repeatedly witnessing what people are capable of doing in THIS country! – all under the guise of disagreeing w/certain ideals and apparently with an inability to deal like SANE adults, or human beings for that matter! So I become all the more touched after reading a glimpse of humanity, the likes of which your precious Jack displayed on that day. Wait. Was this supposed to be about a recipe?
I find that these recipes are the conduit though which amazing things happen. Thanks so much for you kind words. We live in scary, uncertain times and sometimes simple reminds like these give us hope for the future. 🙂
Best I have ever made. Thanks.
Awesome, Rich! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Jo Ann Irons
Your young man has a beautiful spirit. If all children were fortunate to have the parents this young man has I don’t believe we would have all the cruel things happening in our world that are happening today. God has truly Blessed Jack with wonderful parents — and Jack’s parents have been Blessed with a very special young man. May he always be Blessed with the best guidance possible.
You are so sweet, but I assure you… WE are the blessed ones! 🙂
Hey Stacey, Well, it’s been awhile since I blogged in, and I know how you were feeling about getting into the spirit. The girls have been gone to their new home and new life for 6 months now and I have to admit, I have had empty nest syndrome!!! Sometimes really bad!!! I have 10 days before both daughters and their families come for our Christmas lunch and I have taken this long to change back to our original room. But the daughter that moved out has come home to help decorate for Christmas twice now. It has been such a blessing and I know that at the last hour, down to the last minute, God will allow it to all come together and we can celebrate Christ’s birthday at the decorated table!!! (Just like all of her daughter’s birthdays here).
Your son has reminded me of how the 3 wise men gave the best gifts to Jesus!!! I am so glad for the little children and their wisdom. Jesus did tell the disciples “Suffer the little children to come unto Me………”!!! God Bless his little soul and his giving heart that melted y’alls hearts and anyone else that read your blog for it brought out the true meaning of Christmas….JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!
MERRY CHRISTMAS to Y’ALL!!!
PS. Oh, and BTW, The stroganoff looks scrumptious!!! 🙂
I’m sure having your kids around helps you get in that holiday spirit so I can imagine it might be hard for an recent empty-nester. You are very fortunate, though, to have your daughter close enough to be able to come home and help out. It might be at the very last minute, but I know God will put Christmas in your heart. Merry Christmas!!
What an amazing child and a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing… I’ve been trying to find that missing Christmas spirit, too. This really helps put it all in perspective.
Kinds can offer us some amazing perspective if we just stop to listen.
Christmas spirit spread by the boy with a big heart. Sounds to me like divine intervention through the soul of a fabulous child. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, Lori! That’s a perfect way to put it.
What a wonderful story – thank you so much for sharing! I have to say, though, that your precious son has obviously had some great example-setting in his life and I’m guess it’s from you and your wife. Bless you for raising such a thoughtful and conscientious young man! And thanks for this recipe – can’t wait to try it!
Thanks so much, Peg! I hope you’ll enjoy it!
What a kind and thoughtful 6 year old son you are raising to show love and kindness to another child. Learning how to share and give up something that he loves and has earned to another child in need means your raising of Jack is paving the way for him to become a wonderful and kind adult. Those little eyes and ears are watching Mama and Daddy as he grows to become a man. How lucky and wonderful that Jack has wonderful, wonderful parents showing him the right way to share and give from his heart. Good job in parenting your son!
You are so sweet to say that. Thanks so much, Elizabeth!
What a loving and special little boy!! Thank you for your story, too.
That he is! Thanks, Joanne!
WOW, what a heartwarming story, it made me want to cry. What a big heart your son has….makes you proud. There are kids that have so many things, but would not think of giving a toy to another child. You and your wife have a special little boy. God Bless you all and have a Merry Christmas!
It is so true and we are so fortunate to have a boy with a compassionate heart! Merry Christmas!
What an awesome story! Sounds like a very sweet kid! I live in FL, (grew up in the Chicago suburbs)
and it is still hard for me to get in the Christmas Spirit after 10 years of being here!! I love it here most of the
time, but I need snow to get me in that Christmas Spirit!! Not anymore!!!! Way to go Jack!! I will always have
the Christmas Spirit no matter where I am!!!!!
Yes you can! Thanks so much, Laura! Merry Christmas!
What a great testimony this is for what great parents your son has. He has a beautiful heart and soul. It’s good to hear this type of story and it gives hope for the future. Merry CHRISTmas!
We’re so blessed to be his parents!
A lot of people have a hard time getting that special Christmas spirit going – me included – so thank you for giving us a beautiful little story to get us in the mood! I can only imagine how proud you must be of your little man – good job parenting!
We are so proud! Thanks so much, Sheila!
Raelene W. Vautrin
As a teacher of six year olds and a mother/grandmother, I have come to believe that having a kind child beats having a genius any day. Raising empathic kids doesn’t just happen though. You and Heather must be setting great examples of caring and compassion in your own lives. We all know those little eyes and ears are always seeing and listening. Give yourselves hugs, you have a lot to be proud of. Merry Christmas!
You are so right! Thanks so much and Merry Christmas!
I’m thinking that often the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, to belabor a cliche. Your little boy is a gift himself!
He certainly is! Thanks so much, Joy!
How sweet! It sounds like your boy has a very big heart 🙂
I know what you mean about the Christmas spirit, its been hard for me too. Both parents passed away a few years ago and they both loved Christmas so this time of year is always difficult. This year when I asked my 4 year old what he wants for Christmas he told me a movie he wants and there is a little hot wheels car he saw at Target that he’d like. And then he said “But that’s all I want because I have enough.” It makes you stop and think!
Kids can offer us some great perspective if we just take the time to stop and listen. 🙂
You have a mighty special boy! It’s hard to find adults that can be that generous! Way to go!
Isn’t that the truth! We sure love that big ol’ heart he has!