Once upon a time I was the Queen of Christmas Cookies. True story.
Picture the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland only prettier and younger and cookies not hearts. Pretty much nothing really like her at all except that she is a queen too. I rarely used the term “Off with their heads!” either. Just saying. She was kind of loud like that
I have always liked to bake and cook. I learned how to cook eggs over a campfire when I was smallish. From there well there was no stopping me. I should have been a baker. All the cooking I have done I love baking the most. Bread, cakes, cookies, candy, desserts. Chocolate anything, heck, sugar anything.
What better time to go crazy with that than Christmas. That was my form of magic. It is what I brought to the table.
In 2000 when my 11 yo son was born I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with him. He was born in the end of October and I worked right up until then so after we settled into a life of being at home, I realized I didn’t have a clue what the hell I was supposed to do. Ok I had an idea as I was briefly a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) after 16 yo son was born but not long enough to ever be really good at it. So here I was wondering what to do with all this time I suddenly had on my hands and in true form of grandiose ideas, I decided I could bake. Way more than I did when I worked, which wasn’t anything to scoff at. The rest is history.
I watched the Food Network. I collected recipes for any kind of Christmas treat that appealed. I bought cookbooks. Did you know that there is a WHOLE BOOK of JUST Christmas cookies? It’s true. I have it around here somewhere.
I perfected every family favorite, plotted planned and schemed all year-long to make anything and everything that I or anybody else wanted. I would start in October and bake at least 3 to 4 times a week right up until a couple of days before Christmas and freeze everything as soon as it was cool enough. I put my heart, my soul, my love into it and gave elaborate gifts of cakes, cookies and candies to everyone that was not someone who was with us for Christmas day. If we were traveling to my mom’s I brought all my creations with me. My family and friends told me what they liked and didn’t and I would make notes for the following year.
As each year passed and my kids grew and I had more kids, the goodies I made, the cookies I baked became a source of pride for me and I think well they should have. I also fell to doing as much as I possibly could and even perfecting the family recipes of my husband’s family. In reality I changed things, whether it was better or not – who cares. It also became my moment to shine with DH as he believed that making a home and raising children was not actually contributing to society. because I didn’t earn a paycheck ……well let’s not open that can today.
( DH – I always wanted to use this abbreviation. I see it all the time. I believe it is meant for “dear or darling husband” so I can use it knowing I mean Damn - or delusional – or deranged or ..well you get the idea, Husband with none the wiser. Except you of course…. )
DH was even impressed. Dare I say, proud? He would take in all the goodies to give to his coworkers and then tell me how they enjoyed them. Of course there was watching my kids eyeballs get wide and light up too.
I was a Queen to them. The Queen of Christmas Cookies – with a minor in anything else yummy from the kitchen. And it was the one thing I did that no one could do better. My DH could not ruin it by telling me how he wanted it done. It was me, all the way baby!
Praise and adoration aside, it was my way of giving love. My way of sharing the Christmas spirit. It was something I did well, and brought joy to people. And that was what drove me. To give. To do my best and share it with those I loved. Food and love go hand in hand,, Add sugar (or a suitable substitute for those who don’t or can’t eat it) and there is nothing better.
The last year DH and I were together I was also pregnant with my almost (and wow he really almost is!) 5 yo. So the baking that year was scaled down quite a bit and the following Christmas even less. Soon after, we moved to where I am now, and although I am with my family and they know what I am capable of, I haven’t baked anything from scratch except chocolate chip cookies and nothing for Christmas more than some store-bought or kid fund-raiser bought, dough. My recipe books and loose cards are scattered and my baking utensils and pans – long-lost and ruined for the most part in all the moves made of late.
My 18 yo very pregnant (36 weeks!) daughter and my 7 yo daughter of the other people and I were talking a few days ago. It most likely has been a few weeks now as I have not been too good with the passing of time. 18yo prego was telling me that she really really hoped I could make these yummy almond cookies I used to make and that I had the recipe. I was asking questions trying to discern which ones – I mean almond just doesn’t tell me. My 7 yo listening intently said,
Mommy, are we going to bake cookies this year? Can we?
Sure Love we can do that. What kind do you want?
Do you even know HOW to make cookies? Can you make them from scratch?
Can I bake from scratch? Do I know HOW to bake cookies? Why Santa used to save all his belly room for cookies that I baked – because I was the Queen of Christmas Cookies and there were so many that you guys never could decide what kind he would like. Honey, don’t you remember?
I looked at my 18 yo disbelieving and yet at the same time I knew why and as I sat there and listened to 18 yo tell 7 yo exactly what Mom, the Queen of Christmas cookies could do, I felt that horrible sinking feeling of knowing I had screwed up royally. My youngest daughter was almost 3 the last year I baked from my heart and with my love. Something that my older kids looked forward to every year, my two youngest kids have no idea I am even remotely capable of. The magic I can create.
To them, at Christmas, I am just Mom, harried and worried and sad. They don’t understand why. The moving and the money and all those things a single parent worries about. The things they shouldn’t know anything about at their age. And the past few years my struggle with my illness has been harder and harder to stave of during the season like I used to do.
I stopped baking because I thought it was a luxury (despite the belief that it is cheaper to make baked goods when you are short on money for gifts, it can be very expensive I assure you) that I couldn’t justify. And for other various reasons I am not so sure of or don’t care to explore and I inadvertently cheated them out of something – a tradition I didn’t know I started, a part of Christmas, of me their Mother being someone who could create magic and make Christmas more.
Tomorrow, after school gets out, I am putting on my favorite apron. If I can’t find it then I’ll imagine I am tying it tight and getting out my crown although probably tarnished, and I am baking Christmas cookies. With The Gaggle. For the first time in …years. Nothing like the Queen of old but still a Queen indeed.
Wish me luck. Next time you get a plate of cookies as a gift, or a loaf of bread, or anything handmade, food or otherwise, stop for a second and remind yourself that even if it doesn’t seem like much in our modern world of consumer goods and the gazillion presents that can be bought, it may be more than everything to the giver and no doubt is made with heaps of love.
And to anyone who thinks less, or different, Off with their heads!
Ok sorry, just flexing my Queen muscles. I am a little out of practice
- Spiced Cocoa Snowflakes (alexandrabengtssonsblog.wordpress.com)
- Traditions of Christmas Pasts, Italian Tutu Cookies (savoringeverybite.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Cookies (findingmisha.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Recipes 2011: Sliced Almond Christmas Cookies (nami-nami.blogspot.com)
- Holiday Sweet & Simple: Christmas Cookie Sammies (thesmartcookiecook.com)
- Fabulous Finds: Christmas Cookies (thethreadaffect.com)
- Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes – 2011 (VI) (webnerhouse.com)