I’ll be spending much of this weekend on one of my favorite activities of the holiday season: baking Christmas cookies.

The tradition goes back to one of my fondest childhood memories – being in the kitchen with my mom and sisters, rolling out the dough, then cutting, baking, frosting, and decorating the cookies. And eating them, of course.

I don’t do cutout cookies anymore. I don’t have the patience for all that work, although I have no problem spending hours at a time in the kitchen for two days straight, making hundreds of cookies out of eight or nine different recipes – ones that don’t need rolling out, cutting out, and frosting.

Some of the cookies I’ll be making are tried and true standards that will never change, like the snickerdoodles that I remember my mom making and that my mother-in-law loves. And the Christmas trees and wreaths I make with a cookie press just like the one Mom used to have.

I had a scare a few years ago, when my cookie press broke in the middle of my baking marathon. The threads were stripped bare, and the handle wouldn’t turn. I wasn’t able to find a replacement, as they don’t manufacture that kind anymore, but my brother-in-law – who enjoyed going to garage sales after he retired – found a few and shipped them to me in time for the following Christmas. I am eternally grateful to him, especially since the Christmas trees are my son’s favorite cookies, and one of my favorite ones to make.

I also enjoy trying new recipes, and will usually include one or two each year. Some were dropped after one year, while others have become favorites that will stay in the holiday lineup. The new ones I’ll be trying this year include one called Holiday Snowball Cookies – which calls for red and green chocolate chips, although I could only find green ones – and one that, technically, isn’t actually a cookie. It consists of a waffle-shaped pretzel topped with a slightly-melted Hershey’s Hug, and then topped with an M&M for good measure. I was able to find the M&M’s in red and green, so they’ll definitely have a festive look to them.

There will be other differences this year, too – mainly the fact that I’ll be making my Christmas cookies in our new home in Georgia, rather than from the Winter Wonderland of Minnesota, as a friend of mine described it in an email she just sent me. She also asked if it was difficult preparing for Christmas without any snow.

It’s not difficult, just different. But before long, the smell of Christmas cookies coming from my kitchen will bring it all back. The happy childhood memories. The holiday traditions and activities. And warm thoughts of family and friends who may be living far away, but will always be here with me in my heart. Especially at this special time of year.

December 15, 2017
©Betty Liedtke, 2017

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