Our family lore goes something like this. I was just four years old when Mom and I began the holiday tradition of baking Christmas cookies. Apparently while baking cookies that first time with my mom, I saved her life. Well not exactly her life, but her hand. We were using the electric mixer when my mom got a spoon stuck in the beaters that pulled her hand into the mixer. Being the brilliant little girl I was—according to lore—I pulled the power cord out of the outlet in a flash.
My memory of the event is dim at this point but it must be true according to our family story. That first cookie baking experience—scary event with the mixer notwithstanding—set the stage for a lifelong love of baking in general and more specifically baking Christmas cookies with my mom. Each year while I lived at home, we baked Christmas cookies together. Starting in the 70s, we selected recipes from the December issue of various magazines such as Women’s Day, Family Circle and Ladies Home Journal. One of my favorite memories was going to the grocery store to pick up the December issues that always had special inserts of holiday cookie recipes. Many of the magazines still do today.
Since that fateful day, I have baked Christmas cookies with my mom every year while I lived at home. When I left home for college and beyond, the days of baking Christmas cookies together with my mom stopped. Not living near my mom, I continued the tradition of baking Christmas cookies on my own or with Andy. Each year we did at least get to eat the cookies together when my mom and dad visited at Christmastime.
Sometime over the years of baking the holiday cookies on my own, my mom sent me a Xerox copy of our favorite magazine cookie recipe pamphlet—Women’s Day Kitchen #203 December 1973—so that I could bake our favorites. Then sometime later, she sent me all the original pamphlets that I lovingly keep in my cookie recipe file. The usual suspect recipes include hazelnut studded fingerprint cookies, mocha pecan balls, crescents of some sort and Greek Christmas cookies. Of course I always bake chocolate chip cookies and often oatmeal scotchies and more. But alas, I had to bake the cookies without my mom.
This year was different. For the first time since I left home, my mom and I baked Christmas cookies together at her place—which happens to now be just 10 minutes away from my home. We arranged to spend a day together baking our old standards. I gathered all my recipes and bought a bunch of the ingredients. My mom bought a bunch of other ingredients and so began the day-of-baking-cookie-frenzy. It was a delight! When I arrived first thing in the morning, my mom was already in a pretty vintage apron and she had several aprons for me to choose from. The dining room table was chock-a-block with bowls and cookie sheets and cooling racks and ingredients. In the kitchen that is open to the dining room, the mixer (no, not that mixer—it is long gone) and measuring cups stood nearby ready to use.
We have always worked well together in the kitchen and this year was no exception. Mom acted as prep chef, nicely chopping nuts and measuring ingredients, while I operated the mixer. Being new to the apartment and the kitchen, my mom wasn’t sure whether her oven was true to temperature, but it turns out that it was perfect. We mixed and rolled and baked and talked to our hearts delight. After 7 hours, we had plenty of yummy cookies to be enjoyed together and also to be shared with others.
Before I left, I gave Mom back the Xerox copy of the Women’s Day Kitchen #203 booklet that she made for me so many years ago. I kept the original. So the tradition of baking Christmas cookies with my mom restarts. I am so lucky to have my beautiful and loving cookie-baking partner nearby!