HOLIDAY COOKIES

My holiday preparations are different this year.  I decided to shake things up and am so glad that I did. 

Usually I put up our Christmas decorations Thanksgiving weekend.  Last year I wanted to put the tree on the patio but decided to go with tradition and it went in the same spot it always goes.  The other decorations go in the same spot each year.  I have several Christmas Yankee Candle holders and I place each in specific spaces, and I love them. Do all these things go in the same place each year because that is the best space for them or because I am used to that “look.”

As I decorate the tree, I re-live the memories over and over and they are lovely memories.  I have ornaments that Tom’s mother made us during our marriage that Tom graciously let me keep.  Other ornaments are beautiful memories of life in Germany.  I have some that my sister Barb handmade in 1975.  There are ornaments that were gifts and some I bought myself for one reason or another.  I am sure most of you have similar experiences as you dress your home for the holidays.

This year I just didn’t feel like being traditional.  I decided not to decorate the house at all.  It isn’t that I don’t have the Christmas spirit, I do!  I just felt like I was going through the motions instead of living, feeling, enjoying the season.  I decided I wanted to do something different that would actually have meaning to me.

What happened started out innocent enough.   My sister Patti and I decided to spend a Saturday making cookies together.  We had never done this before but thought it might be fun.  Mom didn’t want to join us and my other sister Barb had to work so it was just Patti and I. 

Both of us went through all of our recipe books, boxes and drawers to find our favorites to share.  We called back and forth asking if we wanted to try this or that recipe, deciding what to make was fun.  I wanted to try to make “Sponge Candy” which is a recipe my Aunt Jean gave me.  It usually cannot be made in Florida, too much heat and humidity.  But we were game to try.  (The sponge candy did not turn out.  I think it must have been too warm.)

We made arrangements to start around noon at Patti’s house.  After the initial getting used to each other’s “method” of cooking, I relaxed and really enjoyed the day.  I made chocolate chip and Oatmeal Raisin, Patti made what we called refrigerator cookies and chocolate crinkles.  The idea was to share the dough with each other and it would not be so much work. 

We decided to give the “dough” as gifts instead of actually baking the cookies.  That way no one would be stuck with a bunch of cookies that might go to waste and they can control how many they cook at a time.  We made the dough into balls and froze them, packaged them in freezer bags with the baking instructions written on the bags.

After our day together I realized how much I loved to make cookies.  I have not done it in years.  All of a sudden, I was off and running.  I have not stopped making cookies.  I am not only making dough and freezing it, but I am also making and baking cookies I have never before  attempted.  I made Gingerbread Men, and Toffee bars.   I have never been able to make a decent Peanut Butter cookie and Patti gave me a few tips and they were great!  I am sharing them with others and it has become almost magical for me.  I am having a ball.  Some people I give dough and it has been received amazingly well.  People don’t think I am nuts, they love the idea.  I baked for some senior friends and they were thrilled. 

Every day I am more and more excited to try a new recipe.  John is now telling me to stop but I am obsessed with it.  I know it is all short lived, the season will be over and all the dough in the freezer will be shared or baked.  I will be burned out because that is who I am.  I think I am obsessive compulsive with A.D.D.  I go like crazy, lose interest and move on. 

Maybe I will try breads next … anyone have a good recipe for Pumpernickel?

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