When I was a small child, I can remember each year, come the beginning of December, my mom would start her Christmas baking. This usually involved collecting Christmas magazines by the dozens (a habit she still continues.) As soon as they would hit the news stands she would start collecting. She would sit for hours pouring through each magazine reviewing the recipes and then compiling "the List." Most often the list would amount to 20-25 different varieties.
Each night, she would practice the "make and bake" concept. She would make a dough for the next night and bake one dough from the night before. I can remember our tiny kitchen buried in cookie sheets and cooling racks. She would bake while my sister and I would sit in front of the TV watching all the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. She would be up for hours working on the cookies so they were ready for christmas giving. Rest assured though, no matter what the cookie was many baked and unbaked cookies were snatched from those sheets.
The cookies were stored in the freezer downstairs until it was time to create the cookie trays. If you remember back in the day, gallons of milk came in cardboard cartons. Weeks ahead of time, these would be washed out and saved to store the cookies until it was time to make the cookie trays. With our playroom down in the basement, trips to the freezer for the "sneaky snack" were plentiful. She will never know, we thought! Right, especially when our favorites like "Ice Cream Cookies" would be 50% of the original amount.
Well, as I got older, I now carry on the tradition. Each year, I pour through that magazines and make the list over Thanksgiving weekend. Baking proceeds the beginning of December. I also operate on the "make and bake" concept. Every year, our friends, any visitors to the house, or hosts of parties that Kevin and I might be invited to are the recipients of the "Cookie Tray." These cookies are made with love and those on the receiving end always seem to enjoy them.
Keeping this tradition alive is one way to take me back to my childhood each year. Watching my mom bake these wonderful cookies every year has stuck with me. I can see it as though it were yesterday. This year, being in a bit of a funk, I didn't bake more than 3 different kinds. And, as Kevin and I talked the other day, we decided it just didn't feel like the holiday this year. It wasn't until sitting here writing this post that I realized part of what keeps Christmas alive in my heart is not only the giving but keeping what is familar to you alive and near.
So my parting comment is "Begin traditions with your family and keep the ones that do exist alive by passing them down!"