A Sweet Tradition

IMG_5540Yesterday we decorated Christmas cookies.

I know, I know — it was New Year’s Eve. With the busyness of the holidays, though, this is not the first year we’ve decorated the cookies after Christmas. As long as it gets done sometime during the season, it counts. Heck, we’re having our New Year’s party on January 3. Close enough, I say.

Traditions can be like the gossamer strands of memories. Tenuous. Fragile.

If we don’t cradle them gently, we lose something precious.

My brother, Stewart, was faithful about birthday phone calls. A tradition. I missed his last call and never called him back. He passed away less than two weeks later. Maybe in 2015 I can pick up where he left off and make those birthday phone calls.

Food and tradition walk hand-in-hand.

I was thrilled when Owen and Emily brought Chex mix to the nursing home at Thanksgiving. Party mix (as we call it) is a staple around the house from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. My mother made batch after batch after batch during the holidays to share with others. I love the smell of it baking in the oven.

My brother, Peter, has continued the spritz cookie tradition — making them and sharing them with us every year at Christmas. I get my cookie press out sometimes; it’s fun to squeeze out camels and Christmas trees and stars. But Peter is the one who has best carried on this tradition.

IMG_5544We make the Christmas cookies. Every person becomes an artist with the various colored glazes, little brushes, and toothpicks to coax the colors into position.

I remember decorating cookies with my brothers and sister. The oddly shaped kitchen table would be covered with cookies and sprinkles and icing.

Years ago my mother neatly wrote out the recipe for me years ago. It’s a sweet tradition that I’m happy to carry on. I told my children yesterday that they need to do this with their children. For their sake, here’s the recipe.

Aviary Photo_130645991662410873

A well-worn oft-used recipe card

Christmas Cookies

3/4 Cup Oleo (that means margarine, kids, but I use butter)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
4 Cups Sifted Flour (yes, I really do sift the flour for this recipe. Twice.)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Mix together. (First four ingredients first, then add dry ingredients after sifting them together.) Roll to 1/8″ and cut shapes. (You don’t really have to measure the thickness.) Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet at 400 for 7 minutes. Ice with confectioner’s sugar and water (in lots of different colors).

And it’s okay if they don’t get made until after Christmas.

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