I see you there, with your kitchen full of flour and rolling pins, cookie sheets and cooling racks. I see the many colors of frosting. I see the crushed nuts, the creamy fillings, the sprinkles and powder coatings. I see tables and counters full of dirty bowls and measuring spoons. I see the spilled flour and drippy messes. I can almost smell the sweetness of almond and sugar. I see the family and friends gathered close. I see the laughter. The fun. The joy.
There is no flour spilled in my house. There are no beaters to lick, no cookies to frost. In this house, the sound from the mixer sends a calm child into an anger-fueled fit. In this house the smell of almond is a source for tears. In this house frosting cookies was never a joy, only a mess. The feel, the sounds, the smell of it all is too much.
We don’t do Christmas cookies now and that makes me sad. Like many of you, cookie baking was a big deal in my childhood. Cutouts and spritz, candy cane and tea cookies. It started when my brother and I would look through the many hand-written recipes from our grandparents (and great grandparents) to decide which ones we would make that year (“Aunt Mary’s Sugar Cookies” always made the cut). Then the stirring and mixing and baking would go on for two or three days. I’m sure it was hectic for my parents but it felt glorious to me.
I’ve not been able to pass that joy on to my son. It doesn’t feel glorious to him. So we skip that tradition. When I see social media flooded with your pictures of baking with family and friends – I see the happiness I used to feel. It makes me sad that it’s not part of our traditions now. But, please DO NOT STOP! Your pictures only make me sad for a moment. Then they bring me such happiness that those traditions are being passed on. In our harried world, it’s wonderful to see that creating food together is still part of what many of us crave. The family time and laughter and working together. I used to bake with my grandmother. I also used to go with her to the butcher for meat and the bakery for fresh breads. Those traditions have given way to the convenience of one-stop shopping. The all-in-one stores drove out the local butcher and baker in many areas. We had no choice. But some traditions, like baking Christmas cookies, can always be a part of us. It is our choice and I’m thrilled to see so many people choose to keep it going.
Our house is always growing and changing. Struggles are lessened, coping increased. This year there was cookie decorating at a small social event and it went well. Maybe next year we’ll have our own cookies to decorate. Maybe next year I’ll have pictures to show. Maybe we’ll get to choose the cookie tradition, too.
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