Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Calendar of Memories - Day 8 - Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies - what memories I have of sugar cookies baking in my mother's kitchen!  Throughout the year, we called these cookies "tea cakes."  But at Christmas, the tea cakes took on a different look when their normally round shapes were transformed into "Christmas" shapes.  First, my mother mixed the ingredients, including hand-sifted flour, real butter, and pure vanilla.  Next, she rolled out the cookie dough with her wooden rolling pin until it was somewhat thinner than "tea cake" dough.  When the dough was just right, my mother allowed my brothers and me to cut it into "Christmas shapes" using shiny little cookie cutters with slightly sharp edges.  We chose our favorite shapes - reindeer, star, Santa, and Christmas tree.  After the cookies were all cut, we sprinkled them with colored sugar before my mother delicately placed each cookie into the baking pans. The wonderful aroma of sugar cookies baking in our mother's oven was like no other, for it meant Christmas Day was right around the corner.

When I began making cookies in my own kitchen, I continued my mother's tradition of making Christmas sugar cookies.  And after I had children, I allowed them, too, to help cut out the Christmas shapes.  But my cookie cutters (which I still have) were not shiny metal like my those from my childhood - they were made of a new material called "plastic" that was much safer for little hands and fingers.  Early on, I added a new tradition to the Christmas sugar cookie making process - icing the cookies with a homemade glaze made of confectioners' sugar, something the children thought was really special. We added food coloring to the icing and decorated each of the cookies with sprinkles and colored sugars, turning them into edible ornaments.  (I think the children, when they were really young, thought colored icing was something akin to edible finger paint!) Decorating the cookies was the messy part, but the colorful and unique cookies and my children's happy faces far outweighed a messy kitchen.  

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