Christmas cookies are a treasured holiday tradition in my family. When I was a child my Grandmother Winder always sent cookies and other goodies from her fragrant kitchen home with us after a visit. Her cookies were always full of black walnuts gathered and tirelessly picked from their difficult to empty shells. Grandpa would bring them home from hunting trips along with rabbits, pheasants, and an occasional squirrel.
My mother continued the cookie tradition in her kitchen every year. My brother and I were quick to volunteer to decorate the sugar cookies mom baked. Our favorite memory being how no matter how he tried, his frosting always turned into Army green. The red hots and sprinkles were often applied to trees, stars, and snow men that could look like a Santa Claus if you were handy. We had no special frosting spreaders, just knives and imagination. Cookies, broken surely just by accident, were gobbled up as we worked.
Mom did not just do the decorated sugar cookies. She made several kinds of cookies and candy for packages to be shared with neighbors. When we had outgrown the frosting fun, I helped my mom deliver plates of gaily wrapped goodies to friends and elderly neighbors who were delighted to get the holiday treat. When my parents retired and moved to Florida, the cookie tradition took on monumental proportions. Mom would start making cookies and candy in October and farmed out her creations to the freezers of friends in the retirement community where they lived. On a day a week or so before Christmas, she and Dad would take all the cookies and give a huge party in the clubhouse of their complex. Attired in red and green and Santa hats, they welcomed all the community. On the last of these cookie parties, I was able to attend they counted over 300 cookies lovers. At least that was how many paper plates were used to serve the guests. Mom’s parties became famous when the Fort Myer’s paper did a story about the cookie lady. If she visited us after my father died, you can bet there were still some cookies baked at our house,
While I am not the cook my mother was, I did invite my children and later my grandchildren to
Frost cookies. My daughter, under the tutelage of her grandmother quicky became quite a baker and cook. She has continued the tradition of cookie baking. With the treasure trove of her grandmother’s cookie recipes, she and her husband bake dozens of cookies and send them off to friends and family all over the country. She always brings me a box which brings back the wonderful days in my mother’s kitchen.
When Mr. Wendel and I were living in Amana a very good friend brought all her cookie baking tools, dough and frosting to our house. We baked and decorated all day. Some of the finished products were a little weird, but it was a wonderful way to share memories with a friend.
Chuck just watched us fooling around and enjoyed the laughter and the silly cookie we decorated just for him.
Since I no longer have a big comfortable kitchen, but live in an apartment with a not always reliable oven, I do not do much baking anymore. This year however, I am determined to bake some sugar cookies and have invited a friend to come and join me in decorating them. I must confess I am using store bought cookie dough and some tubes of ready-made frosting. However these “not from scratch” cookies come out, I know we will enjoy the process which brings back the joyful times of honoring our Christmas cookie tradition.