I’ve always loved the Christmas season from the lights to the music to the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. But I’ve found that it’s far more stressful as an adult than it was when I was a kid. To combat the worry that I’ll never get anything done I make lists. One for gifts, one for cookies, one for food I need to bring to parties, and one separate list of gifts for my husband. That last list actually starts in January and inevitably I lose it at some point during the year and have to start over!
My favorite list is the cookie list. I bake every year and make cookie trays or baskets or tins, depending on what strikes me. This year, like last year, I used little holiday bowls. I filled them up, wrapped them in clear cellophane, added a pretty bow, and off they went to family and friends.
But it’s not as easy as just making a cookie list. The cookie list ends up with check marks, hash marks, stars, circles and the occasional arrow. Which cookie will get made in which order? Which recipe requires preparation a day in advance? Which cookie requires refrigeration after baking? Which cookie needs frosting? Which cookie can’t go in someone’s bowl because of allergies?
Lists! I need more lists!
Then we have the ingredient list. How many bags of flour do I need? Chocolate? Nuts and what kind? Sugars- - granulated, brown, dark brown, superfine? Vanilla? Do I have enough? Yes, I do. I made my own vanilla this year. My fingers are crossed that the result of that experiment is flavorful enough.
I typically begin my cookies the first week of December and deliver them by the end of that week. I’ve learned to be early, if I want my cookies eaten and enjoyed. Too many treats right near the holiday means my efforts get wasted.
I have such wonderful memories of baking with my grandmother each Christmas. We played music and baked cookies and talked about everything under the sun. As she grew older and less physically capable I did more of the up and down and rolling and cleaning. She supervised. We had a wonderful time. Though, I will admit to being thrown out of my grandparent’s house on December 23rd one year.
It seems that if you break too many items, your grandfather will lose his mind. That’s a bit of advice I’d like to share. Try not to let this happen to you:
So first, grandma told me to go put on the Christmas music, Mahalia Jackson to be exact. While I’m in the living room getting the stereo going, grandma calls my name, repeatedly. Not in a hurry-up-the-toaster-is-on-fire sort of way. More in a hide and go seek, sing-songy way. You can imagine my surprise when I came around the corner and found the toaster on fire. That was the first issue.
The next day we set off the smoke detector, again. This time from the cookies baking in the oven and not the flaming toaster. I couldn’t get the noise to stop so I climbed on a chair to remove the batteries and accidentally pulled the whole thing off the ceiling to crash to the floor and shatter. Issue number two.
The next day I loaded up the dishwasher and turned it on when we were done baking. They had a dishwasher that you hooked up to the sink for the water. I did hook it up. I simply forgot to turn on the water. (I can’t remember everything.) In any case, every plastic utensil or bowl melted in the dishwasher.
That’s when my grandfather told me to leave and not come back.
Thank God for moms. My mother and grandmother got me back into the house for Christmas Eve dinner. Every time my grandfather looked at me he shook his head. And for the next several Christmases he mentioned how I broke everything I touched.
Twenty years later both my grandparents are gone. I still listen to Mahalia Jackson when I bake Christmas cookies. I make a number of the same recipes we made together and I’ve tried lots of new ones, including this one from my husband’s grandmother.
2 sticks of butter at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
Cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla. Add the flour and salt. Shape the dough into the teaspoon sized balls.
Bake at 325 degree for 15-20 minutes.
When the balls are still slightly warm, roll in powdered sugar. Roll again before serving. Enjoy!
Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday is filled wonderful moments that become memories to fill your heart for years to come.
-- Lynda Again
The cookies sound like just the thing to go with your favorite coffee or tea and a good book, don't they? I can just imagine now...hazelnut coffee, yummy cookies, a fire in the fireplace and a good book? Good times!
Hope you all have a Blessed Day!