Christmas Cookies

by Marcia Shannon OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some family holiday traditions are delicious. For mine, Christmas was the only time my mother baked cookies. She was a good cook and baker, but it was all cakes and pies, cobblers and cream puffs the rest of the year. December, and only December, was cookie time at our house. Mama baked 100 to 200 dozen each year. These were shared with co-workers, friends, neighbors, teachers. There always was a large cookie platter ready for holiday visitors.

The two weeks before Christmas was cookie production time and my sister, brother and I joined in as soon as we were old enough to see over the tabletop. We learned kitchen chemistry chopping nuts, beating eggs, creaming butter and sugar, rolling, dropping, pressing the dough. We timed the bakes, transferred cookies to cooling racks, and carefully packed them in 5 pound potato chip tins. Those sessions were the easiest math lessons we ever had, as we learned how to double or cut recipes and mastered precise ingredient measurement. The reward for all that labor was so tasty!

The best part of cookie time was making them. There was a small TV in the kitchen, and as the four of us cranked out cookies, we watched Charlie Brown, Frosty, and other holiday shows. We sang along with Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol and paused to listen to Linus's monologue explaining the meaning of Christmas.

Over the years, our family favorites have changed but the absolutely required cookie is still a rich and tender butter cookie with a glace cherry topper. With family and work duties, my sister and I sometimes wind up baking them on Christmas morning. To this day, I don’t bake cookies in any other month!

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