Making cookies has always been one of my favorite Christmas traditions. As a girl I loved helping my mom make cookies using the tube-shaped Mirro cookie press. It was fun to mix the food coloring into the dough, roll it into a cylinder and stuff it into the press. We used the recipes from the little booklet included in the box. Star-shaped spritz cookies. Spicy brown molasses camels. Delicate green wreaths piped in a circle and adorned with cinnamon dots. And my favorite, green almond-flavored trees, sprinkled generously with colored sugar or nonpareils. Getting the cookies to come out of the press just right was a bit of an art, and I remember lots of do-overs. But that was part of the fun of it.
I still have the Mirro press, and most years I still make the little trees. I’ve resisted getting one of the fancy electric presses or any modernized version. Why mess with tradition?
From the time my own kids were preschoolers, they’ve helped me make cookies at Christmas time. Those early years were messy affairs, with flour and sugar all over the counter and floor. Now it’s something my two daughters look forward to every year. We crank the Christmas music up, dig out the cookie cutters and rolling pin, and fire up both ovens. These days we’re a little neater, but let’s face it: you can’t have a good time making cookies and end up with a clean kitchen. And that’s okay by me.
Everyone has their favorites, and we try to make them all. Spice cut-out cookies with a light icing are the most fun (and most time-consuming) to make. It’s my mother-in-law’s recipe and now the one we can’t do without. Thumbprints, with a dab of colored frosting in the center, are my husband’s favorite. My son likes soft molasses cookies. My younger daughter likes chocolate crackles, rolled in powdered sugar. We all like Magic bars, made in a pan with a graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and coconut. Some years I make raspberry-filled bar cookies from an old recipe I got from my husband’s grandmother.
We start the cookie-making in one big day over Thanksgiving weekend, and continue off and on throughout December. It takes time, but it’s worth it. After all, what would Christmas be without cookies?
(The Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories encourages bloggers to share their memories of Christmas seasons past and present. To participate, see the list of daily topics. To read posts from a number of participating bloggers, click here.)