Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, Day 8 - Christmas Cookies

Ah yes, the Christmas cookies.  During World War II, my mother and I lived in an upstairs apartment at my grandparents' house.  Mother had four brothers serving in the War, three of them in Europe, and although I was a pre-schooler, I well remember the impact on our household.  My grandmother started baking early - to fill boxes of breads and cookies to send to her boys and their buddies.

For the rest of her life, my Mammaw baked and sent boxes to her sons and their families as part of their Christmas celebration.  We always lived either in the same town, or no more than two hours from my grandparents, so we got our share of the bounty directly. 

Mammaw died in 1973 when she was 86; my mother promptly took up the cross and made sure her brothers always got a box of goodies from "home".  Mom lived to be almost 92, and her cooking skills decreased.  Her brothers asked me if I could suggest she cease the baking - the cookies weren't very good anymore and all but one of the brothers was by now diabetic.  I just told them they could feed the cookies to the birds or the garbage disposal, but this was an act my mother very much needed to perform.  Time took care of the problem, as Mom moved to an apartment with only a microwave.

Several years after I married, we moved away from the "nest" so sometimes I got the Christmas boxes of goodies.  However, I think both my Mom and my grandmother knew I probably had some genetic predisposition to do my own baking for Christmas.  They were correct.  Several of the cookie recipes I had inherited from them, as well as others from my old Betty Crocker recipe book, became the traditions for my own children.  I did often participate in cookie exchanges among friends, take plates of assorted cookies to neighbors, but I never felt the need to box them up and mail them anywhere.

Years have passed and now that I am a single traveler in this world, there is no need for a lot of baked goodies sitting around the house.   But I live only a couple of miles from my daughter and her three teen-aged children.  She has a wonderful kitchen with double ovens and a large granite-topped island.  Now we set aside a day before Christmas and all gather to bake multiple batches of cookies.  A great time is had by all.  They share  the results with me and their neighbors.  And, yes, we are still baking some of the same kinds of cookies...