I just finished decorating my first batch of Christmas cookies this morning. I have more to bake but at least my first batch is done.
As I decorated and listened to Christmas music I couldn’t help but realize that I’ve been baking those cookies for a very long time. It’s my mom’s recipe and she trained me well. As a kid I remember sitting at the kitchen table helping her cut out all the different shapes. I had my favorites so I’d do more of those than the others. If she noticed, she didn’t say anything.
The next step was making the frosting, adding the food coloring and gathering the sprinkles. My siblings and I would sit for what seemed like hours decorating those cookies. We’d start out very meticulous, taking our time and showing our artistic side with each cookie. The gingerbread men would have a face and clothing. The trees would be decked out in colorful sprinkles in an effort to make them look as much like a real Christmas tree as possible.
To my recollection, the patience we had and the time we took with each cookie diminished rather quickly and soon we were just slapping on the frosting and sprinkles just to be done with it all. We’d even “break” a few just so we had an excuse to eat them, but don’t tell my mom.
I continued this tradition and included my kids in the process as soon as they were old enough to “help”. They, too, spent the first half hour or so carefully adorning each cookie in their own style and uniqueness. Then they fell victim to the boredom of the repetition and found themselves slapping on the frosting and decorations just to be done. I guess that part of the tradition didn’t have to be taught.
Anyway, as those memories consumed my thoughts this morning I couldn’t help but think of Jenny and my brother. Jenny is no longer here to help me decorate or even sample the cookies and my brother is no longer here to participate in his family’s traditions. My heart aches as I think of the loss of my daughter. It also aches for my sister-in-law and nephews as their first Christmas without Tom draws near.
What gets me through the holidays is the fact that Jenny is celebrating Jesus’ birth in heaven with all the saints who’ve gone before. Tom has joined her and my parents. I smile as I think of them sitting together at the kitchen table inside their mansion in heaven, decorating and snitching those cookies. I can imagine the smiles, laughter and love they exchange as they continue this family tradition.
One day I’ll be with them, too. Until then, I’ll do my best to make mom proud by using her recipes and cutters, while I continue my favorite family tradition here on earth.