I grew up with very few holiday traditions. The ones we did have came from my grandparents more than my mom. My dad died when I was 4, so she was a single working mother and she did her best. She always did Christmas morning breakfast for the whole family. Christmas Eve was at her mom’s house and Christmas dinner at my paternal grandma’s house. At the grandparents’ houses, we had traditions, but at home, not so much.
When I was a teenager, my best friend and I decided to take a Sunday and bake Christmas cookies. Sunday was the only day off we both had, and we both enjoy baking. The first few years we did this, we baked at my house and my mom was very tolerant of the mess we made. She of course got plenty of cookies for putting up with us. We gave cookies to everyone we knew.
It became our tradition. Through husbands and pregnancies and children, we’ve baked together every year for the last 24 years. We still have people asking why we do it. We get looks like we’re crazy when people hear that we spend ALL day baking. Our answer: we love it. It’s a day we can spend together and just bake and talk and have a few laughs.
Our production has definitely increased over the years. On average, we make about 20 kinds of cookies. I don’t think we’ve ever kept track of how many dozens, but I’m sure it’s a scary large number. People have come to depend on our Christmas cookies because they’re so good. I’ve had fellow teachers wince when I quit working because they knew they would no longer get that tray or tin of cookies. (Yes, I’ve actually had colleagues ask if I would deliver cookies even though I no longer worked there.)
It’s a tradition that our kids expect too. They’ve all taken part in cookie baking. Whether they roll dough into balls or sprinkle powdered sugar or just taste test new recipes, they all participate. They like bringing the tin of cookies to school and letting their teachers know they helped bake.
I bake year round, but this is special baking. This is about friendship and love and sharing.
What traditions have you started for yourself or your family?