Christmas Cookies

 

Christmas Cookies

 

As a kid I loved everything about Christmas.  I loved the smell of the Christmas tree as we put it up after Thanksgiving.  The pine smell filling our house with the anticipation of what was yet to come.  I loved the sounds of Christmas music wafting through the main floor, Elvis or Glen Campbell telling stories of Silent Nights and First Noels.  I loved decorating Christmas cookies with all my cousins at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Some of these memories are crystal clear, others just a bit fuzzy, in a warm and welcoming way.  Every December my Grandma would pick a Saturday and invite all 23 of her grandchildren for a day of magical cookie making.  Parents were only involved enough to transport us to her house, then they were encouraged to disappear and use their free time wisely!

Grandma's Gang

 

Grandma was an organized woman, she had to be, she and grandpa had eight kids and she was the aunt to another 18 kids!  She would be waiting for our arrival; her apron tied around her ample bosom and hips, the smell of warm sugar cookies floating in the air of her kitchen.  The long table would be set up with balls of dough, flour for sprinkling, rolling pins for the big kids, and tons of tiny cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes.

The grand kids ages ranged from late teen to newborn so the older kids would be placed in charge of the little ones.  I always seemed to be in the middle, not big but not the baby either.  The big kids would roll out the dough and the little ones would have the important job of selecting the cookie cutter of choice, should it be a Christmas tree or maybe an angel?

Next, the big kids would help load up the cookie sheets and grandma would confidently run the double ovens, continuously rotating the uncooked with the slightly brown finished cookies.
The best was yet to come, next we’d get to slather on the frosting and add sprinkles, chocolate chips, coconut and any other whimsical topping Grandma could think of.

Carrying on the tradition

 

As a mom I have tried to continue this special tradition with my own children, but even after years of practice I still can only handle my three kids and maybe a couple extra.  Every year I am amazed at the amount of cookie dough it takes just for my small crowd.  The volume of sprinkles and the dust of the flour can take hours to clean up but the fun is priceless.

Now that Grandma and I have switched roles, and I get to host these wonderful cooking magic making parties I have a whole new respect for what my Grandma was able to do.  I cannot even imagine how she had the energy to keep up with all 23 of us and still never get cranky!

I see, now that we switched roles, what a strong woman she was, and I hope that I can carry her traditions on in a way that would make her proud.

Doing it at my house

 

Grandma was a force to be reckoned with in many ways.  Her view of family shaped my view in more ways than I realized.  She was strong and completely unafraid to roll up her sleeves and get to work when she saw something that needed done such as a house to clean, a baby to rock, a hungry man to feed, or an orphan who needed a blanket.  She would just get to work and make it happen.  She managed to raise all these kids, usually fed another 20 hungry men every day for lunch and then raise chickens and grow a garden!  Grandma might have been a bit vocal, and things were not always calm around her house, but Grandma was the glue that held the family together.

A family that large can be a loud and rambunctious crowd, often there was some loud fighting, and it usually was not all warm and fuzzy, but when the chips were down and you needed a hand there was always a strong one from Grandma ready to reach down and pull you up and get the job done.

I hope that in my small way I can help continue both traditions, warm Christmas cookies for the kids in my family and a strong and steady hand ready to dig in and do whatever needs done so that a family that loves each other can be held together with strong glue.

So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?’

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