When I was a kid, my mom baked cookies every Christmas. Not one batch of cookies, or two batches of cookies. My mom made double batches of several kinds of cookies which we arranged on red and green paper plates and took to all the neighbors. They were extremely popular — just yesterday a friend of mine dropped me a note saying that she was thinking about making the sugar cookies my mom always made at Christmas time (and we haven’t done the neighborhood cookie distribution for years). Everybody had a different favorite cookie — date/coconut balls, chocolate chip cookies (with and without nuts), brownie bars with a thin layer of green mint icing, craisin oatmeal cookies.
I have a lot of cookie-related memories of the holiday season. My brother Tim and I would ‘help’ run the dates and nuts through the big hand-cranked food grinder (Dad inevitably ended up doing most of it after we got tired) for the date/coconut cookies. Some years I made snickerdoodles. But far and away the centerpiece of the Christmas cookie plates were the sugar cookies, the favorite cookie of every neighborhood resident under the age of 12 (and many of the adults too). I think at peak cookie production, we made triple or even quadruple batches of the sugar cookies. Here’s a picture of the sugar cookies from a while back:
We had three shapes — trees, bells, and stars. Trees were frosted green with green sugar sprinkles, bells were frosted red with red sugar sprinkles, and stars were frosted yellow with either chocolate sprinkles or rainbow dot sprinkles. Stars were the bane of everyone’s existence because it was time consuming to get the frosting spread out into all the individual pointy arms of the cookie. And besides, the sugar sprinkles are tastier than the multicolored kind, and prettier than the brown chocolate kind. Eventually the star shaped cookies were dropped and we made trees and bells. So anyway, on any given year, we had six or seven different kinds of cookies, including a huge batch of sugar cookies. Everybody helped. But.
My mom did all the work.
I appreciated this at some level, in my later years living at home. I was aware that although Tim and I had frosted and sprinkled the sugar cookies, my mom was the one who had mixed the dough, and chilled it, and rolled it, and cut it (and somehow managed to not have all the cut cookies stick to the counter in a gooey mess), and baked up all those mountains and mountains of cookies. I knew that she made a lot of the other cookies on her own, or at the very least did the boring parts and let everybody else do whatever they thought the fun parts were.
This year, I am making two kinds of cookies. Two. The cranberry-oatmeal cookies, and the sugar cookies. It has turned out to be rather more work than I expected. I’ll post pictures of my cookies in a little while, but this post is for my mom, who reads the blog pretty regularly.
Thank you, Mom, for all those Christmas cookies and for all the fond cookie memories.