This is National Cookie Cutter Week reminding me that the winter holiday season is fast approaching. It just doesn't feel like the Holidays until I've burned at least two sheets of gingerbread men and taken a "Cookie Hookie Day."
My mother started this special tradition when I started school. The exact day in December varied from year to year and she always caught me by surprise. "You know," she'd say one night, her eyes twinkling. "I have a bit of a tickle in my throat. How are you feeling?"
This was my cue. "My throat is ticklish too." And so it was decided -- we couldn't possibly go to school or work the next day. Instead we stayed home and baked cookies all day long -- it was our "Christmas Cookie Playing Hookie Day."
We slept in late, then hauled out mom's special old cookie cookbooks that were dog-eared and yellowed with egg yolk. We each chose our favorite recipes. I liked anything that required frosting or candy centers, like sugar cookies and oatmeal gumdrops. My mother preferred cookies with nuts and exotic names like Pecan Tassies and Mexican Wedding Cookies.
Flour settled over the kitchen like a light snowfall as we spooned, sifted, and stirred. I was the designated gingerbread maker. I cut out cookies until they'd grown from a family to a troop to a small nation of gingerbread people. I pitted them against the snowmen people and tiny snow ball (cookie dough) fights ensued.
I was also the unofficial quality control manager. I burned my tongue, ten fingers, and two toes sampling cookies just out of the oven. My mother and I baked cookies all afternoon, until our arms ached from too much stirring and our stomachs hurt from too much butter and sugar and there were no clean bowls left in the house.
Some of the product of our labor was packed away and frozen, saved for the upcoming holiday dinners. Some cookies we gave to our neighbors. My mother and I always selected the nicest meringues and brightest sugar cookies and perkiest ginger bread boys and arranged a large platter for the local soup kitchen.
I'll never forget the way my mother took a day off in the middle of the busy holiday season to create a special holiday all our own. It always communicated to me, "I love you and I enjoy spending time with you." And that is one of the best gifts anyone can give a child for the Holidays.
Copyright 2003 © Heather Tomasello
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