What do “Christmas cookies” mean to you? Are they just the fun cut-out style cookies? For me and my family, it is a plethora of different cookies that we only make between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I didn’t realize how much my family loved to bake until this pandemic really hit. Out of boredom I started baking a lot of family classics, and I really enjoyed it. There is something so incredibly comforting about it, from the smells as they bake, to all the fond memories baking brings back...sneaking little bites of dough when my dad wasn’t looking...getting my hands dirty by rolling the dough out...being amazed at how covered in flour I was... arguing over who gets to lick the spoon... There is a reason they tell you to bake chocolate chip cookies when you are trying to sell your home.
During the Christmas season my family makes five different kinds of cookies: Russian Teacakes, Toffee Squares, Apricot Cookies, Magic Cookie bars, and of course your classic cut-out cookies. My mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook is covered with dirty-finger-smudge-marks and alterations scrawled in the margins. Even as my siblings and I got older, we would all try to make it back home to participate in some of the cookie making.
My favorites are probably the apricot cookies. They are two thinnish layers of soft, buttery, shortbread-like dough, with tangy sweet apricot jam sandwiched in-between, and powdered sugar dusted on top. My grandma always liked them best and they remind me of her.
This year, to get in the Christmas spirit, I have been making one of my family’s Christmas cookies every week. This has turned into a wonderful tradition that I want to keep in the years to come. Not only do I end up with some delicious treats for the week, but it’s very nostalgic and makes this odd holiday season feel more normal. Plus, I am now talking to my mom more frequently than ever to get all the recipes and her tweaks to them.
Turning my focus to family traditions, and without all the hub-bub and obligations this season usually brings, this Christmas is starting to feel more and more like the Christmas’ of my childhood, and that makes me smile.