Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas Cookies

It’s time to take down the decorations and, for me, it’s also a good time to reflect on this year’s Christmas traditions to determine what we enjoyed most, and least, in this past month. One task that I struggle with year after year is the tradition of baking Christmas cookies.

I love to bake. That’s part of my challenge. The other part is that I also love to eat cookies. I can be obsessed with them, just like I am with chocolate candy. Yes, my level of obsession has gotten smaller, as I continue this journey towards healthier approaches to food over these last five years, but those cookies are definitely a ‘red light’ food item for me. But the enjoyment of baking is something I’ve learned since I was a young girl. I know how to time the pizzelles ‘just so’ to create perfectly toasted cookies, not too white and not too brown. I know how to get the butter cookie batter to just the right consistency to create uniformly shaped trees and stars. I know how to knead the batter from my Great-Aunt-Pauline’s “S” cookie recipe in such a way to result in anise-y, lemony biscuits that melt in my mouth as I enjoy them with a steaming cup of coffee. Not only do I crave these experiences of baking, but I smile at the memories that the mouth-watering aromas bring from the baking cookies, hot in the oven. I want to pass along some, if not all, of those memories to my own daughter, and it tears my heart to think she might not learn some of these traditions.

Hence the struggle. If I bake these cookies, who’s going to eat them? Me! Well, me and my husband and kids too. But mostly me! My conclusion to this year’s cookie baking decision was to delay the baking until after the holiday rush. My daughter and I put together a small batch just last week, and it was fun for me to enjoy the time with her, and to watch my family appreciate the goodies in our house.

There was another gesture I appreciated this year. It was what I call “The Perfect Cookie Tray” brought over by a friend. She made multiple batches of homemade goodies at her house, and wanted to share some with our family. She also knows me well enough to bring her gift in the perfect package: a small tin of exactly eight cookies…two each for the four of us. We could indulge, but not overindulge. I felt understood and loved. Perhaps that’s what the cookies are all about—being understood for who we are, including our heritage, and being loved. Yum.

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