Christmas Cookies

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"Smells like Christmas!" exclaimed one of my family as she came in the
door for a visit. "It does not," I said. "I haven’t even bought any
fresh greens, and even when I get a tree it’s got to be out on the
porch, not in the apartment."

"Ah," said the family detective.
"But it smells nice and yeasty, so I bet you’ve made cinnamon buns to
put in the freezer for Christmas; and on top of that, I smell ginger,
which means Maltex cookies, and I know you never make two things on the
same day except for a big holiday, when you know you’ll be doing a lot
more. ERGO," she said triumphantly, "you’ve started your Christmas

Couldn’t surprise the kids when they were little, can’t surprise them now that they’re grown up.

so many years, when the children were much younger, we always gave one
day to making old-fashioned Christmas cookies, the kind you cut out and
decorate with colored sugars, chocolate sprills and dabs of icing. This
year I hope that a couple of the grandchildren will get home from
college in time to help with those. It’s so nice, now they’re old
enough to realize that deco-rating the counters, rug, floor, and any
drawer left open, with all those cookie beautifiers, isn’t necessary or

And grownup kids are quick. It used to take all day to
make the cookies, as the children painstakingly selected favorites from
among the old cookie cutters – a Santa, a tree, a swan, a reindeer, a
church with a pesky steeple that was almost as hard to preserve as the
neck of the lovely swan, a star or two, a motherly-looking female who
looked more like a femme fatale if you elongated her when moving from
the cutting board to the baking pan, and inexplicably a rabbit, a hen,
a club, a heart, a spade and a diamond. Some of those metal cutters
were my mother’s, pre-World War I, but most she bought in the 20’s and
bestowed them on me when I married.

I have the trusty wooden
spoon she used for all her mixing, worn down comfortably on one side,
and now a historic artifact that works perfectly. My sentimental
daughter has dibs on that when it’s available.

I DON’T use
mom’s old baking pans. I prefer to bake cookies on a couple of the
modern, double-thick insulated pans that help prevent burning and are
much easier to handle. (I still haven’t learned to bake all this stuff
without burning my fingers at least once on an oven shelf, though.

come on, Christmas, I may not have bought half the presents yet, but by
golly the baking will be done and I still have Christmas Eve to finish
the shopping, right?

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays one and all.

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