Thursday, December 27, 2012
It wasn't so long ago that I would spend a day, maybe more, making Christmas cookies with my mom and siblings. There was a standard list of recipes that appeared only once a year. Oftentimes they required more effort than the usual cookies or bars, so it really took an entire day to make them. Christmas music would be played, the younger generation would lick beaters and spoons before relinquishing them to be washed, and Tupperwares would be filled with various confections, ushered away into cold hiding spaces where they would be preserved until Christmas parties required their presence.
It's a little different these days. To prevent my own waistline demise, I limit myself to 2, maybe 3, types of cookies. But which types? I can't use the cookies from my family's tradition, because it's no fun to bring more of the same to a family gathering. My grandmother no longer bakes, and since one of her signatures was Molasses Spritz cookies in the shape of an S [for the family monogram? for spritz? just an easy shape? I really don't know; I should maybe ask] with powdered sugar icing, I made an attempt at them. Next year hopefully I'm armed with her actual recipe and less water in my icing. One of my favorite treats is toffee, but making it has proved that it is truly my nemesis. The recipe I used this year involved saltine crackers and the oven...shouldn't that be too easy? Evidently not.
As I look at my meager baking, I wonder what our family baking tradition will be. What recipes will I hold dear? What treats will our children feel constitute Christmas? Will I ever be successful at making toffee? How did our parents arrive at their standard recipe lists?
On a completely separate note, I ponder how we will instill the truth of Christmas in our children in the midst of its cultural context. It probably won't happen with flour and sugar, but perhaps it could happen in conversations over a mixing bowl. What a day that will be!