Every year I make a metric tonnage of Christmas cookies. I start right around the first of December and end up hurriedly putting the last ones together right before my daughter gets out of school, usually, because the goal is always to give the cookies away as gifts. Teachers, instructors for lessons, the mailman, the neighbors, and more. It all sounds good in theory, but it means I make a lot of cookies.
What I love most about this tradition is twofold: one, I always know what I’m bringing to gatherings or as a hostess gift, and two, everyone always has a favorite. Some of the cookies are in the rotation specifically for certain individuals. My sister loves the fudgy bonbons. My daughter’s godfather loves the peanut butter cup temptations. My husband goes weak in the knees for gingerbread. My sister-in-law is there entirely for the monster cookies.
Every year it seems I add another cookie, and every year I can’t take it away because it immediately becomes the one someone can’t live without. Is it a hassle? Yes. Is it expensive? Yeah, it can get there. But man, it’s fun, especially when I give myself the time to get the job done. The house smells amazing. The porch is full of cooling cookies and cookies in tins and bags and everything else. (Benefit of living in Iowa: your screened-in porch is your walk-in freezer in winter.) And everyone is so happy to get the cookies as gifts. They love the variety, love that you took the time, love that you thought of them.
And think of them I do. While I’m baking the fudgy bon bons, I think of my sister and the time we made them together, of how we had to find somewhere open on Christmas Day evening that had sweetened condensed milk. (Walgreens.) My daughter and husband usually do the cut-out cookies, which include the gingerbread, and I love listening to their banter and teasing as they work. I remember the face of my therapist as she poked through the gift bag full of goodies, how her eyes lit up and how she thanked me, of how I finally felt like I’d given her something back that equalled what she gives me. I remember how one year we didn’t get the cookies done before school got out and my daughter had to deliver them to the teachers’ doors. She actually asks every year now if we can do that again just because it’s fun.
Best of all, making my Christmas cookies reminds me of what the holidays are supposed to be about: giving, of my time and myself, for those that I love and who mean something to our family. That, and making Christmas cookies means there will be spritz shaped as green trees with red sprinkles. Because those are my favorite.
As Laurie and Ed lose themselves in dance, their lives continue to spin around them: Ed’s injury makes it clear he’s nowhere near recovery, Laurie feels the pressure by friends and family to perform once more, and the community center that has become such an important part of both their worlds threatens to close. Alone, they haven’t had the strength or spirit to face what life has hurled at them. But as the turns of their personal paths lead them into the arms of love, Ed and Laurie begin to think that if they dance this dance together, they might be able to succeed.
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