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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Cookie Tradition with the Family

This year for the holiday I took a week off work and went on a cookie retreat ... with my family.  I have fond memories of making Christmas cookies with my family when growing up.

Sure, everybody remembers the particular Holiday cookies that their Mom or Grandma made, but we didn't just make cookies, we embraced the cookie tradition with open arms. Hundreds of different types of cookies, 20 to 30 batches of each, took weeks to complete and yet only a moment to eat.

There's so many cookies that have been lost along the way; either they were too much work or newer flavors have replaced them. As a child I loved decorating the over-sized Santa cookies with red frosting for the suit, coconut for the beard and little silver dragrees for the eyes. Then there was the filberts, rolling three teeny-tiny little balls, placing them in a triangle in hopes that the balls will cook together and then topping them with a 1/16 of a maraschino cherry. Nobody liked that duty.

But we still make plenty of Christmas cookies that require patience and sleight of hand; our cookies are small little works of art and even still today my parents perseverance amazes me.

I haven't been a part of the cookie making tradition in a few years. Many of those years I was focused on my weight and had replaced such indulgences with workouts. And there were the years that I needed 'space' from the family, and the years that working outweighed family time.

Today, I look back and realize that the cookie making was more than just typical holiday baking, it was a vessel for together time, for communication, and for a way to show others you care. It was good old fashioned bonding time.

At one moment, as I emptied a new bag of flour into the flour bin (we had used 60 lbs to this point) I realized nobody had spoken in a hour. We were all engrossed in our tasks at hand. The kitchen was filled with noise of the mixers whirling, the sifter sifting and the oven timers beeping ... and yet it felt warm and comfortable, as if we were never closer.

The Holidays are over now and I have just a few cookie crumbs left in the freezer from it. But I have the memories (and a few extra pounds!) of a great adventure.The nieces and nephews played with the dough, dirty their little hands and decorated some of their first cookies - a tough rite of passage which must be crossed to officially become part of the tradition. A tradition that I missed for many years, but one that will have a new focus in the future.

Sure, it is true you can pick your friends but not your family...and I wouldn't want it any other way!
Happy Fat and Happy Holidays.

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