My three favorite Christmas cookie bakers come from roughly the same generation.  I imagine each of them learning to bake at the side of someone who loved them, with a sense of community, learning the reward of being exhausted and continuing to build beautiful and delicate things.

Those women turn out baking by box.  One made my second favorite day of the year at my former place of employment -her family fills a board room table with cookies and buckeyes and lord’a’mighty – for EACH of the participants.  Cookie DAY brings the press cookies and chocolate chip cookies and that gel stuff in the plastic tubs.  The season is rounded out by just a couple delicate German cookies on Christmas day.

Grandchildren are always recruited and taught – just like I was.  Ours was a big house for frosting and sprinkles and cut out cookies.  I remember there being batches and batches coming from the oven and the kitchen table covered over in them.

I had a day like that one year.  Jeff’s grandma in-residence (my neighbor), a friend and her daughter, me and Jeff.  Making cookies together.  It was a great day and I am happy to have done it — but community is different for me than it was for my mom.

Christmas is different too, and every year we feel our way through what is right for us right now.  During LLV we put whatever we though was pretty on the tree because we hadn’t brought ornaments.  Last year my husband did all of the decorating because he saw that I was too sad from my dad’s death to muster decorating and he understood that I was still going to need it to be there.  This year we have a potted live tree on the table  – our traditions won’t settle.

It was 60 degrees outside today with a brilliant blue sky and I knew that it was the night to make cookies.  I had half a tub of frosting from the Star Wars cupcakes so I stopped at the store for mix and sprinkles.  It wasn’t community.  It wasn’t a table full of cookies.  It wasn’t buckeyes or press cookies or the ones with powered sugar.  It was compiled instead of homemade.

It is 13 (well, 11 now) cookies.  One has suspenders, one is an homage to Doctor Who and Vincent and the Doctor.  I don’t know what Jeff will remember even though I realize he is of an age where he will remember now.   I’m not sure it matters.

Carry forth the traditions you love in the ways that you can.