One annual tradition that died hard for me this year was cookie baking.
Ever since my children were very small, I’ve baked Christmas cookies to give to our family friends as our holiday present. We gave them to all their teachers and helpers, too. Soon my sister decided to help out, too, and we added in her recipients. She starts looking at cookie recipes as soon as the holiday food magazines start appearing in the grocery store aisles.
She has normally arrived on Monday night of Thanksgiving week. Our school district typically has teacher in-service days on Monday and Tuesday. We could dedicate all of Tuesday and Wednesday to the preparation (and still have time to do some Thanksgiving night and Black Friday shopping). Just a year ago, our Illinois sister and youngest niece traveled out for this special time, too, so there were even more of us in the house for this week of togetherness.
Over the years, some of my friends have started coming over for several hours, just joining in the fun of mixing, rolling and baking. The decorating crew changes each year—as does the skill level. The cutout cookies have always been designated as the kids’ contribution (along with cutting gumdrops and unwrapping Hershey kisses). Last year, I think we had fifteen teens/early twenties kids frosting cookies late at night.
This year, all that is impossible. My sister couldn’t come up; that’s not allowed by either of our states’ quarantine rules now. My friends and I can’t gather. My kids can’t have people over.
It was down to my daughter and me, with a sporadic bit of help from my two sons. (One chopped nuts, the other ran to the store for more butter and sugar. Rest assured that both claimed that they were huge help, though, because they “taste tested” everything.) But guess what? I still enjoyed cookie baking this year. Turns out my daughter and I found a rhythm that worked well for us, and we were productive and had fun. It was my silver lining of the today to realize I have found a new baking-partner-in-training!