Baking Christmas cookies is one of my favorite holiday traditions. It takes me back to when I was small, baking Christmas cookies with my mom and my sisters, and it brings warm memories of the many Christmases since then in which I’ve continued the tradition.

I usually spread my baking out over several days, but this year my sister and I decided to make cookies together, so we spent a full day in her kitchen last weekend, sifting, sorting, measuring, and mixing. By the end of the day, we had made seven different types of cookies, and had over 430 cookies to show for our efforts – even after sampling and taste-testing some along the way, as well as eating the evidence of the ones that got broken or a little overdone in the oven.

It took us a little while, first thing in the morning, to get our duties and procedures figured out, especially since I was used to doing this solo, and I was now in a kitchen other than the one I am used to. But we soon got our rhythm going, and we had everything running smoothly. My sister did most of the sifting and sorting, and getting things in and out of the oven. I did most of the measuring, beating, creaming, and shaping.

We had a few mishaps along the way, such as the cookie-press dough that was too stiff to go through the cookie press. After Plan B, C, and D failed, we rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters on them. We adjusted the oven time and temperature, but still ended up with cookies that were a little burnt around the edges and too soft in the center. Even so, they tasted pretty good, and we figure we’ll try them again next year.

Then there were the cookies that weren’t browning up properly, even after twice the amount of time they should have been in the oven. After considering whether it was the stoneware baking pans that were at fault, or the fact that we had two trays in the oven instead of just one, we eventually figured out that I had mistakenly turned the oven off when I thought I was just silencing the timer on the previous batch of cookies.

Most of our efforts were successful, however, and after a full and busy day, I went home with several hundred cookies to be sorted and divvied up later. That seemed almost like a side benefit at this point, because I also went home with warm, new memories of an enjoyable day with my sister, after renewing, revising, and sharing a favorite holiday tradition.

There’s always something tugging at my heart at this time of year, as I recall loved ones who have passed away shortly before or after the Christmas holiday in years past, and for whom I won’t be wrapping up a plate of cookies this year.

Still, I treasure this tradition and plan to continue it as long as I’m able. It’s not only one of my favorite traditions of the Christmas season, it’s one of the sweetest.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 15, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition — especially one that dates back to your childhood? I’d love to hear about it! Please be aware, however, that all comments will be moderated and approved before appearing on this blog. This is to protect all of us from unwanted spam.