In those long-ago holiday seasons when our trio of offspring were young, the kitchen was the heart of Christmas preparations.
A couple of weeks before the big day, I’d don my checkered apron and dig out our collection of cookie recipes, cookie cutters and all the equipment necessary to turn the space into edible gift headquarters.
Looking back on those busy days, it seems we baked up mountains of cookies. There were four or five traditional recipes we made sure to include in our production schedule. And each of the kids had a special favorite that simply had to be part of the mix.
For Becky, the eldest of the clan, it was always the beloved sugar cookies. These cut-out creations allowed our resident artist the greatest opportunity to exercise her skills.
Sherri, the middle kid, was devoted to Snicker Doodles with their irresistible coating of sugar and cinnamon.
For Tim, the youngest chef, any concoction that contained chocolate chips was his automatic favorite.
With carols playing on the kitchen radio, the four of us would bake away the hours, creating a smorgasbord of sweets amid flurries of flour and sprinkles of sugar.
During the earliest years, I served as chief measurer while the kids took turns mixing and cutting. When the baking sessions ended, the kitchen was a disaster area and each member of the baking staff was flour-dusted and disheveled. But the result was a collection of festive cookie-laden holiday plates ready to be given to friends, neighbors and family members.
These cookie sessions were a major family tradition of the season.
Through the years, as the girls moved on and set up their own homes, I downsized my baking, turning out only a few dozen of the goodies to share and to have on hand for holiday visitors.
I hadn’t given much thought to the passing of the apron till a recent call from daughter Sherri.
“Mom,” she said, “do you still have the recipe for pineapple oatmeal cookies?”
So I turned to my trusty recipe box, retrieved the well-used instruction card for these yummy cookies and read it to her over the phone.
She reported she had been baking for several days and these would be the last cookies on her list of must-make treats. I was delighted to learn that Sherri has accepted the challenge of sharing our old favorites with family, friends and neighbors. It’s good to know the traditional gifting of goodies continues.
Although I’ve abdicated from the marathon of cookie creation, I haven’t given up on Christmas baking altogether.
Instead, this year I’m concocting something new. It’s a pumpkin bread recipe I came across in Heloise’s newspaper column. Though I’ve clipped a number of promising recipes in recent months, none have captured my culinary interest like this special seasonal production.
Fresh from the oven, the fragrant loaf is a treat for both nose and taste buds. And I’ve been enjoying sharing the oven output with neighbors.
This Christmas, since the cookie project has been ably adopted by the next apron-wearer in the Schenk line, I’ll concentrate on starting a pumpkin bread tradition for family and friends.
But, shhh, it’s going to be a surprise, so don’t tell.
And my dear readers, during this glorious season of caring and sharing, may your home be filled with love, laughter and the joy of the Christ child’s birth.