Baking My Grandma's Christmas Cookies (a/k/a Why We Need Grandmas)

Baking My Grandma’s Christmas Cookies (a/k/a Why We Need Grandmas)

I wrote this several years ago, when my oldest son was in Kindergarten. My grandmother read it soon afterward, and thought it was such a great story. So, as embarrassing as it is, here’s the story. I hope you enjoy it as much as my grandmother did.

So, here’s the deal.  My 5 yr old son had his class Christmas party today.  I, being the loving Mommy that I am, promised him I would bake some cookies for the party.  My grandma, being the awesome Grandma that she is, has this incredible sugar cookie recipe that is out of this world.  For years, she made these cookies each and every year, for our entire family.  We live in Florida, and she in Michigan, but she would send a batch to us in FL.  She’s gotten quite a bit older now, though, and unfortunately doesn’t make the cookies anymore. So, I thought I’d give my son a special treat, and make my grandmother’s recipe.
I followed her recipe precisely. I had to refrigerate the dough, for two hours, it said.  It lied.  After two hours, I was supposed to be able to roll the dough out and use cookie cutters.  Not happening.  It stuck to everything, including me.  I stuck it in the freezer.  I begged it, bargained with it, threatened it, all to no avail.  Finally, in desperation, I called my grandmother, figuring the woman who made such awesome cookies, with cutters, would surely know what I did wrong.  We discussed, we analyzed, and couldn’t find a problem.  Finally, my grandmother’s final suggestion was that she always let it set in the fridge over night.  So, I said, okay, I’ll try that.
This morning, the dough still wouldn’t cooperate.  So, I said to hell with it, I’m making balls, flattening these babies out, calling them ornaments, and I’m done.  So, I start rolling up little balls, flattening them out and putting them on the cookie sheet.  I’m making them a nice little size, for 5 yr olds.  Big enough to get a good taste and enjoy, but not so big that they will be bouncing off the walls. Right?  Wrong!
See, my grandmother’s cookies were always pretty big.  But, in my granddaughterly way of not really appreciating what my grandmother was actually doing, just assumed that she had really big cookie cutters. I put the first sheet in the oven, and started rolling out the second sheet.  I glance into the oven to see how the cookies are coming, and discover cookies the size of a teacup saucer!  I didn’t realize they were going to expand quite that much! So, I scrap the second sheet.  I take all those cookies off and re-roll and flatten them, make them a little smaller (figured I’d keep the huge ones in the first batch home).  Well, that didn’t work so well.  They came out bigger than the first batch!!
I finally got it figured out, and got some cookies just the right size for the great kids in my son’s class.  I decorated them with homemade frosting, and put on edible glitter, and nonpariels and little snowflakes, etc.  Packaged them all up, even some for the teacher and my other son’s babysitter.  I was quite proud of myself in the end, although it took me three hours start to finish.  The cookies were quite well received, and I am very proud to say that my parents think they taste just like my grandmothers.  A better compliment than that is just not imaginable.

 

I even did dishes before leaving for the school, although it made me late.  And do  you know, my kitchen is still a mess!  But, I will say this: I have developed a whole new respect for my grandmother.  That she would bake those cookies, and many more batches of them than I did, with five children under foot, and years later, many more grandchildren, that she would bake them even as she got older and began having more health problems, as did my grandfather, whom she would care for when he needed it (thankfully, both are still around!), is just amazing.  I’ve always said I want to be as good a mother as my mom, but my grandmother has shown me a whole new level than I ever knew existed, and all because of a sugar cookie recipe.

Cookies

The 2011 batch

Update to the story

The above story is about the first time I tried to bake the cookies, which was in 2007. I am very happy to say that in the intervening years, I have proudly baked my grandmother’s cookies without incident. And last year, I even managed to find some metal cookie cutters! This year was a bit more difficult than it has been, I believe due to our rather warm, humid weather. I still laugh about that first time, though. So does my grandmother.  And I’ll tell you something else: I’m still trying to figure out how that smaller amount of dough made bigger cookies in that second batch!
“Baking My Grandma’s Christmas Cookies”
© 2012 by Wendy Miller
All rights reserved. For reprint information, contact wendy@wendy-miller.com