Baking My Way Through The Holidays

My Mom was mainly a stay at home mom when I was growing up.  This gave her a lot of time for creating holiday treats including beautifully decorated Christmas cookies.  I always helped do the decorating but I am not really very good at it.  The thing is, it didn’t really matter.  It was something we always did together.  A solid tradition.  Besides, no matter what they looked like, my Dad or my Grandpa would just rave about how great they looked and gobble them up.

When I had my own kids, we still went to my Moms every year and decorated cookies with her and my younger brothers.  But then we moved home to Michigan and my Mom and brothers remained in North Carolina.  That first Christmas I was pretty sad without them.  So my kids and I baked as my holiday therapy.  We couldn’t get too crazy because we were in transition and most of our things were still packed up, but the next year we really unleashed the baking.

Christmas Cookie Therapy…..Where it all Began

I planned an elaborate event in December 1998 inviting all my work friends and their kids to come over to bake and decorate with us.  I bought the supplies, and set up tables in my basement where the mess wouldn’t be an issue.  We rolled, baked, decorated and drank some warm mulled wine.  When we finished we had enough treats for a city block.  Everyone took some home, we shared them with our other coworkers and families, and we shared them with some of our customers.  It was great holiday therapy fun.

I thought it was just a one and done party until the local Police Chief came to me the next year and handed me a $10 bill.  I was pretty confused.  He said “Isn’t it about time for you to make the cookies? Put this toward the cost.”  And that was how it became a long standing annual event.  Every year it got bigger and more people came and it was an amazing thing. I loved it.

 

img_5187
Baskets for Days

 

Christmas Cookie Elves

Each year we planned out what goody baskets we would make for people who needed some extra holiday cheer. We made a list of folks we knew had been sick, were all alone or who had lost a loved one.  One of my favorites was the huge box we made each year for the local group home for adults with disabilities. It was amazing delivering a basket to someone and seeing them smile.  It really was MY holiday therapy.

 

img_0974
Ninja Bread Men

 

Tradition

Every year I added to my crazy collection of cookie cutters. I am just a big kid in an adult body so I look for unique cutters that will be fun to decorate, like gnomes, ugly sweaters and ninja bread men.  I have been collecting so long that I have 2 big boxes of cookie cutters now along with a vast array of decorating tools and supplies.

But sadly time rolled on, the kids grew up, some friends moved away and other people just got too busy to come.  There were so many other holiday parties and events that it made it hard to fit this party into those precious few weeks of December leading up to Christmas.  So last year there wasn’t one.

Although I still do a cookie exchange with my friends, it’s just not quite the same.  Last year my daughter and I didn’t even get a chance to decorate together and then we both had the blues.  This year, we stuck a flag in the ground and claimed 12/15 as our cookie decorating day.  I have all my supplies ready and will be firing up the oven tonight to start making some gingerbread.  Hopefully, I can get my sugar cookie dough mixed up and chilling too.  I might need a little extra baking therapy this year because my Son won’t be able to make it home for Christmas.

 

My 2019 Holiday Baking List

  • Sugar Cookies
  • Gingerbread
  • Monster Cookies (Oatmeal, peanut butter, M & M’s, chocolate chips)
  • Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Biscotti
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip with Michigan Dried Cherries (Boom Chunka’s)
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels
  • 4 batches of Chex Mix

My holiday cookie for the exchange this year will be Chocolate Cherry Amish Sugar Cookies.  I haven’t made them before but they look yummy.  I like to bring something unique so we don’t end up with all the same cookies.  Last year I made Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies.  I love the spicy mix of chocolate and cayenne pepper.

My Mom doesn’t bake cookies any more, which is a shame because she is an amazing decorator.  She did suggest I send some goodies her way though.  I guess I will be making care packages to mail to her and my Son this year.   Although it is important for me to make them, I certainly don’t need to eat all those cookies myself!

Hope you all have amazing holidays and enjoy some yummy holiday treats.  I would love it if you shared your favorite traditions or recipes.

Dev