Friday, December 30, 2011

Snickerdoodles and Headless Ducks


   Christmas cookies have a special meaning for my family. My mother begins preparations for the holiday season by stocking up on enough baking goods to make about 4000 cookies. She whips up batches of Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cakes (note - As I type this, I realize that might be a politically incorrect term), and many more.  Great care goes into making sure each cookie is perfectly shaped, packaged and safely delivered to loves ones around town. We laugh that the larger the cookie tin, the better the friendship.    

   I'm not actually part of this cookie making machine because of lack of time to participate, but I do try to keep up the family tradition of making the Sour Cream Cut Out Cookies.  This is a recipe handed down from my great grandmother, Grammie. She gave her cookie cutters to my grandmother, Nana, who, in turn, gave them to my mom.  I have enjoyed forty-seven Christmases, all with cut out reindeer and tiny angels.  My favorite is a 1940's looking Donald Duck in a sailor cap.  His neck always breaks during baking and we end up with a bunch of headless ducks.   All the cut out cookies are always lightly sprinkled with just the right amount of red and green sugar crystals.  They are a sight to behold and a treasure to eat. 

   This year, the cookie cutters were handed down to me and instantly placed in my twelve year old daughter's hands.  She loves to bake and began the process of preparing the family treasure.   I let her go with little guidance as I was literally tied up trying to wrap Christmas gifts, pay bills, sort laundry, and prepare dinner.  It seems she discovered some Easter colored pastel sugars in the cabinet and thought they might be good to use. I assumed she was stamping out red and green reindeer and a few headless ducks and I took comfort knowing the family tradition would continue on.  

  After two trays of cookies, I suppose she lost interest and wandered off.  My mother came in about that time and I found her standing over the counter in a state of shock staring down at a pan full of purple bells, one legged horses, and a glob of unshaped dough all baked to perfection.  I saw her begin to tremble as she tried to grasp what had happened.   I knew her blood pressure was rising and her pace maker was probably jumping into override as she scanned the kitchen hoping to find the sour dough cookies that had been carefully prepared in the same fashion for over eighty years.   I quickly moved her to a chair, slapped some dough on the counter, rolled it out quickly and pressed out twenty perfectly shaped bells and angels and sprinkled them with just the right amount of red and green sugar.  I prayed as I placed them in the oven that I wouldn't discover a pan of burnt Christmas cookies with Halloween colors and tiny bat and pumpkin sprinkles.  That would probably send her straight into cardiac arrhythmia.   I continued with my cut outs and crafted pans of reindeer, Christmas trees and headless ducks.  Before too long, we had a container full of cut out cookies that would make Grammie proud and my mother's heart beat return to normal.   

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