Old Friends and New Traditions
Martha Stewart, I’m not, but I can turn out a plate of gingerbread cookies that taste pretty decent. Way better than they look. It was a cherished family tradition, in fact…until, that is, two adorable little boys grew into fine young men that ventured out into the world to build exciting lives for themselves and forge their own traditions. As kids are wont to do.
I don’t begrudge my boys this birthright. Of course not, don’t be silly! We’re transitioning, too—in fact, this is our first Christmas in our new home! As always, our tree is decorated with family heirlooms, old and newer–delicate ornaments on the highest boughs because Toby’s made himself a cave among its lower branches.
I’ve also strung twinkling lights along the mantle. Hmmm, where to put my music boxes? I’m still pondering. Oh, and did I tell you? Earlier this week, I baked sugar cookies with my little friend Sara.
I’ve always used Betty Crocker’s recipe, but my sister Sheryll suggested I try this one, instead. Ho ho ho, I’m happy that she did! The cookies were tastier, and the dough was easier to work with. Anyway, let’s not bother ourselves with the how-to’s and what-fors, ingredient lists and steps involved in mixing…you can get all that from the link above, HGTV and the Food Network. We’ll just focus on the fun stuff, shall we? To wit: time spent with Sara.
We sandwiched the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and flattened it with a rolling pin until it formed a rectangle, 1/8” thick resembled the State of California—a topographical marvel that included high deserts and low plains, a rugged coastline, and fault lines that ran the length and breadth of the dough.
Next step: choosing the just-right cookie cutters from a motley collection of shapes. Yes, I got all misty-eyed when I retrieved from the cupboard these talismans of special holidays past. Dinosaurs, sharks, guitars, angels, teddy bears, unicorns, Santa Claus, hearts and stars and moons, oh my! And more! Sara untangled the giant heart from the rest and held it to her chest. (“This is for my Mommy.”) Sorry, saguaro cactus and Halloween cat. You didn’t make the cut.
Again and again, we dipped cookie molds into flour and pressed them into dough, twisting them ever so slightly before separating the shape from the surrounding scraps. Roll, press, return the scraps to the refrigerator for chilling and re-rolling.
Look! We’re getting the hang of it!
Before long, the hardwood floors were dusted with snowy-white flour, and the scent of fresh-baked cookies drifted from the cooling racks into the rest of the house.
Sara spread a thin thick layer of frosting (canned, I confess–don’t hate!), and then let loose with all of her creativity.
Sugar crystals, pearl candies, edible paint, sparkly red and green sprinkles…apply liberally, give the cookies a shake and then add more, pat everything into place, sprinkle an extra dash of glitter for good measure…no such thing as good enough!
Hours later, we collapsed on the sofa stood back to admire our handiwork. The kitchen was a mess—sparkles, sprinkles, and crumbs everywhere, but behold, this wondrous plate of cookies! Edible art, a feast for all senses.
There was a taste test, of course…
And everyone agreed…
Best cookies ever!
Yes, there were imperfections. Some cookies were soft in the middle; others were brittle to the point of being fragile. Dark or pale, broken or flawless, didn’t matter. This plate of cookies, this baking day…love made visible, all of it. I can’t think of a better gift this in the whole wide world, can you?
Here’s hoping the sweet memories of this day will hold a place in our mental scrapbooks, long after the very last cookie crumb gets eaten.