Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas Cookies


When was the last time you made cookies from scratch? The last few years of the office cookie exchange I was the one bringing store-bought. I didn’t take the time to wrap them in ribbon tied ziplock baggies either. But I remember a time when baking Christmas cookies was something I looked forward to.


There was my mom’s best friend, Pat, who with her two daughters would make dozens and dozens of cookies, cakes, brownies, fudge, cheese balls - you name it - and drop by the house and stay for an afternoon visit with just us girls. It represented an amazing amount of work....all hand made with love and wrapped with red plastic wrap and a big red or green bow on top.


And then there was my very best friend, who at a very young age loved to be in the kitchen and Christmas for her was THE time to bake the classic sugar cookies. You know, the kind where you make and freeze the dough the night before then you spend an entire day rolling them out and cutting them with santa, reindeer and snowman cookie cutters. She’d invite me over to make the dough, usually late at night. Then we’d bake at least 4 or 5 dozen cookies the next day. 


There was such joy in working to cream the butter and trying not to spray the white powdered sugar all over the place as she/we struggled with the hand mixer. Then there was the magic of watching the white icing start swirling with green or red stripes as we added the drops of food coloring in. The large cereal bowls filled with the butter cream frosting sat on the side counter with long silver knives shooting out of them and at the ready, half covered in green, red or white icing that had soon turned to a glue substance between icing jobs. And those small green and red sprinkles that would make it to the floor and crunch under our feet because after your first dozen or so of carefully crafted cooky decorating the factory mentality would kick in and we’d be quickly icing and toppings tossing in hopes of getting done and to bed before midnight. We messed up the kitchen like professionals and cleaned up like kids - eating our due of the “accidentally” broken and burned ones and talking to each other the entire time.  Then we’d be done, the kitchen back in order and we'd head off to bed with a great feeling of accomplishment and possibly a stomach ache or two.


As I sit quietly in the dining room of my parents house in the midst of the 2009 Blizzard, the rest of the family still asleep and more than a foot of snow outside, this is what I am thinking about. Being in that kitchen with my best friend making cookies. We must have been baking during the many blizzards of our childhood. Funny how memories work. I hang more tightly to them now. I can still see the winter light through those kitchen windows, hear the wind and the branches hitting the house, see the warmth of the kitchen cabinets all around us, the details of the items on the shelves and hear the clanking sounds from the kitchen sink from washing all those baking dishes by hand. It is the safety and warmth of the love in the house back then, and in this house here and now. How wonderful. I think I’ll work on a few poems about this. 


But first I must call my best friend and get that cookie recipe. And after the storm has past and we make it back to our own house on Christmas Eve day my daughter and I will give it a go. If we don’t eat all the broken and burnt ones I hope to have plenty to share with our new neighbors and extended families on Christmas day.  Warm wishes for great cookies and gifts of love. Java!

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