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Christmas Cookies

“You don’t make the cookies?”, my mother asked appalled.

“Why would I make the cookies? I don’t have any kids.”, I replied.

“You make them and give them away”, she responded.

“But most of my friends don’t have kids either.”

“They’d still like them.” 

No they wouldn’t. The last thing my friends want in the month of December is a plate of cookies. Especially these cookies. You eat one, and you can’t stop. It starts with a small Santa Claus (the littlest cookie), before you realize it, you’ve stuffed a bell, a Christmas tree, and a ginger bread man (the largest cookie) into your mouth. They complement both coffee and wine, so you can have them for breakfast, and after dinner. Or, have one for lunch with a glass of milk. The recipe calls for a pound of lard. I know what’s in them, but I still can’t turn them down.

So, I do the next best thing, I don’t make the cookies.

My parents lived in the same town for decades. Every year we’d add a few more names to the cookie list, and except when somebody moved, we never crossed anyone off. Year after year the list got longer. Eventually we were slaves to the cookie list. Week in week out we’d mix the batter, chill the dough, roll it out, cut the cookies, bake them, frost them, sprinkle them with sugar, put them on red and green plates, cover them with saran wrap and put a bow on top. We’d carry them to neighbors, bring them to church, and when people came to the door bearing plates of chocolate peanut butter balls, bourbon balls, and Mexican wedding cookies we’d smile politely, accept their gifts and give them our cookies in return. It was like swapping gold for pennies.

During December, my brother Joe and his sons make cookies every weekend. They eat half and give the other half away. His sons are all grown up now, but they still come home to make cookies. They’ve been doing this since they were little.

These pictures are from the 1980’s, when I was still under the spell of the cookie God. I drove all the way from Boston to Washington, DC to make cookies (and to see my brother and his family).

When I told Joe I was going to blog about Christmas cookies the first thing he said was, “You can’t give out Granny’s recipe”. “Why not?”

“It defines us. It makes us different. It just wouldn’t be the same if anybody could make the cookies.”

Since blood is thicker than lard, I can’t share it. But believe me, you are better off without it. The last thing you need to add to the craziness of December is an unending cookie list, and to consume ½ pound of lard.


8 Responses to “Christmas Cookies”

  1. jane coger Says:

    Jean- loved to read your christmas cookie story!! I do miss Granny’s cookies and the ones made by your dad!!!Have a very happy new year. Jane

  2. Jean Gleason Says:

    Happy 2010 to you too Jane. So good to hear from you. Hope you Mac and the kids had a great holiday. I too miss the cookies … and my dad. Tried to write a blog on popovers … someday, I hope I will be able to. Give my best to the Corning crowd!

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