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Christmas Traditions: Cookies

on December 5, 2012

gingerbread-cookie

The time has arrived! Last night I began making my annual Christmas cookie “to-do” list. The lists of cookies that I want to bake and the ingredients I will need to bake them.  The list of people I want to give cookies as gifts this year. (Have I ever mentioned I’m a list person?) The anticipation is building.  After I go spend a small fortune on ingredients and see the task that I’ve created for myself the dread will build.  Okay not really dread.  More like the “I have lost my mind yet again this year.” And then I’ll move on and get excited again.  Baking cookies for Christmas is as much a part of me as my skin.  Hmmm….perhaps that was a gross reference considering I’m talking about food here.  Let me try again: baking Christmas cookies is as much a part of me as breathing.  Wait! Cooking.  No breathing on the food.  Baking cookies…oh never mind. You know what I’m saying here: I love to bake Christmas cookies.  I’m good at it.  Much better than I am at similes.

I was a bit concerned this year that I was going to have to ditch some of my baking plans.  Last week my ever faithful mixer died.  The little mixer that could.  My faithful friend of the past 20 years.  We’ve baked a lot of things together my little mixer and I.  Baking is therapy for me.  My little mixer was my co-therapist and she died. (I really have no idea if the mixer was a girl – I’m just assuming here.) It was a tragic loss considering the time of year it is so I bemoaned the passing of my friend on Facebook. Now it isn’t like I couldn’t go out and by myself a new hand mixer. I can.  I was just being sad. Much to my shock and delight my sweet mother-in-law read my post and offered a solution for me.  She had an almost new Kitchen Aide stand mixer that she never uses so she sent it home with my husband.  Yes – my mother-in-law is that cool.  I’ve been eyeing Kitchen Aides for years but was too cheap to go get one.  Christmas came early this year. I have a mixer I love and the Christmas cookies have been saved.

Now I know that I probably sound a bit like a sugar addicted psycho here but Christmas cookies are a huge part of holiday tradition for me.  For as long as I can remember they have played a part in preparing for Christmas.  My mom would patiently let us help her make them when we were little.  When we got older she joyfully turned the job over.  My grandmother, who loved all things Christmas,  spent weeks and weeks making different kinds of cookies.  One of my favorite memories of her at Christmas time were the cut out decorated cookies she made (and often sold).  They were so pretty that you almost hated to eat them.  Almost but not quite.  They were also delicious so you ended up eating them anyway.  One of the things that gives me joy this time of year is pulling out her recipe for those cookies (and several others) and baking them just like she did every year.  I also love that I have her cake decorating tips so I get to use the same tools she did to decorate them. It connects me to my past and since I have always included my children in the bake-a-thon every year it passes a tradition down to the future.  Corny?  Maybe.  But it sure is fun.

Over the years I’ve passed more of the “honor” of decorating to my kids.  They handle it completely for me now and enjoy doing it.  Here they are in full “cookie mode” the past couple years:

cookies

While the cookies may not be as perfectly decorated as my grandmother’s were they are still made with a lot of fun and love just like hers were.  I think she would have smiled if she’d seen her great-grandchildren enjoying it as much as she used to.

cookies8

Last year my daughter invited a few friends over to help decorate the cookies.  We went through a lot more frosting than normal but I do believe they had fun.  (They must have because she intends to do it again this year. )  I must say there were some new twists on our “usual” decorating schemes.  For example, this was “Charlie Sheen Teddy Bear”:

cookies6Don’t you love his red eyes?  Appropriate, no?

While my kids tackle the decorating I power bake through other tried and true favorites.  Our house becomes a cookie factory for a few days. A really good smelling cookie factory that makes me remember years past.

cookies4

It sounds like a lot of work and hassle but it really is one of my favorite things to do this time of year.  I love the tradition and the smells and…well….the results!  There is no thing more fun for me than having loaded cookie trays to give away and take to gatherings.

cookies2

This is one tradition that my entire family enjoys whether they be bakers or eaters – or both.  

Today’s bonus:  My smart-alec husband and equally smart-alecy oldest daughter challenged me to spend 25 days blogging about my Christmas mug collection and call it “The 25 mugs of Christmas”.  (See what I put up with??)  I don’t have that many.  Well I don’t think that I have. (If you missed the story of my affinity for mugs you can read it here. it’s #7 on my list). They should have known better than to give me an idea however.  While I will not spend that many days boring sharing with you my adorable mugs and the fascinating stories behind where I got them I did decide to highlight a few of my favorites.  Without further ado I present today’s mug:

CmasMug1

He (again – I’m not sure it is really a male I’m just assuming) is one of my favorite mugs for a couple of reasons.  My oldest daughter gave him to me the Christmas after she began her paper route.  She was 11 or 12 and was so proud to have her own money to spend that year.  (This was before she became a smart-alec who picks on me.)  She is a gift giver and had saved her paper route money for months so she could get everyone the “right” gift. Her father and I took a group of kids from our church to Omaha to go Christmas shopping that year and our daughter and her best friend shopped  together.  They bought identical presents for their mothers: this mug and the cute little salt and pepper shakers pictured here.  The bonus is that my daughter’s best friend’s mother is also one of my very best friends in the world.  Now even though she has moved 14 hours away I use that mug and picture her using her mug.  It’s kind of like having coffee with her even though we aren’t together.

Now do you see why I’m all sentimental about my mugs??

Extra added bonus! I heard this song today and have had it stuck in my head all day.  Give it a listen, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite version of this “classic”

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9 responses to “Christmas Traditions: Cookies

  1. You will be so disappointed in me! My sugar cookies were a total fail last year so today I went to the grocery store and bought a tub of sugar cookie dough in the bakery and only one container of red sprinkles. I will let my kids make circle (I mean Christmas ornament) cut out cookies and decorate them with red sprinkles! I wish you lived close so I could send my kids over so they would have an awesome cookie making experience! I love Charlie Sheen bear! Also, featuring your mug selection is a great idea even if you just give us a picture but the story was definitely an added bonus and very sweet!

    • wedelmom says:

      No disappointment from me. We do what we must. “Ornaments” are a very creative solution! The best part of the “cookie making experience” is to make memories and have fun. (But hey – if I ever move to Wisconsin I’ll keep that in mind>)
      Thank you. I love my mugs mostly because of the stories behind them. If they didn’t have stories they would just be more unnessesary clutter. Well….cute clutter….but clutter none the less.

  2. javaj240 says:

    I thought about making Christmas cookies this year (I just got a Kitchen-Aid), but then I thought, “Why?” They would just be gobbled up by the ungrateful. So, I’ll use the money I saved by not baking cookies to buy myself something Merry and “Brighton”!

    Your cookie platters remind me of my mother-in-law’s cookie platters. She spent weeks baking Christmas cookies. They were so delicious(and lovingly made). Thanks for bringing back that happy memory!

    • wedelmom says:

      Now you have life figured out! Why hadn’t I thought of buying something for me with the money I save not baking? Okay my family would revolt and kick me out, but other than that it’s a great idea.
      Glad the post brought back a happy memory. If I could figure out how to ship cookies you and your “ungratefuls” would be on my cookie list.

  3. Janelle says:

    They are all beautiful and look delicious! I have yet to do the big baking push. I’m thinking next week, and then perhaps some will last until Christmas Day! But your post has made me ready to put on my apron and get started!

  4. First of all, I loved your attempt at finding the perfect simile. It was so much more effective than actually succeeding at finding one! Second, do you not feel the least bit guilty that you have replaced your trusty little mixer with…um…the mixer that likely makes all other mixers painfully aware of their inadequacies? The mixer responsible for the low self-esteem of lesser mixers? Just wondering. (I’m actually just jealous that you have such a beautiful piece of kitchen equipment. Not that I ever bake. But I sure would enjoy admiring it on my counter). Thirdly, I also assign the male gender to all inanimate objects. I think it’s because they share the same mental capacities. Oops! Did I say that out loud? And, finally, I love your posts!!

    • wedelmom says:

      First of all – thank you. It took me a minute to remember whether that was a simile or a metaphor. I am so not an English major. Or a writer for that matter…
      Second – I hadn’t thought of that. I suppose I should feel a little guilty. Does it help that the other one was safely to the “big appliance garage in the sky” before the new one arrived? Mega-mixer does look really good on my counter by the way.
      Thirdly – I’m glad I am not alone though I don’t stick mainly to male gender. I gender assign by whatever seems right to me. Yes. I’m twisted and complicated.
      Finally – thank you. I love your posts too!

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