Today as I reached for the foil wrapped candy, carefully set in the December 7th spot in my old Christmas countdown calendar, I was reminded of the small pleasures this season so often brings. They’re usually subtle and all too easy to get whisked in to the everyday scramble, but this time, I took a guilty second to let the sentimentality of Christmas do its work. Plucking those candies from their respective pockets is something I look forward to every day of December, right up to the 24th. Being 20 years old, approximately 5 times the age when I can first remember partaking in this activity, doesn’t lessen the flurry of excitement when I realize I’m one day closer to German potato salad and a Honey Baked Ham. Even though a Hershey’s chocolate kiss isn’t a culinary masterpiece, the sensation of eating one merits some special attention. Last year I tried using bite size Milky Way’s and little red and green lifesavers, but that’s not what I remember eating in the first house I lived in with a shaggy, protective dog by my side hoping for a bite. Sometimes, particularly gorgeous and made-up rooms in magazines like Martha Stewart, make me depressed for their lack of silly, over-themed holiday decorations. The tables on those pages are set with decadence, but the old time comfort isn’t there. The sparkle of the unused, over polished silverware shines that humbleness right out and the flowers aren’t missing a petal, untouched by curious noses. What I love about Christmas isn’t the meticulously placed candles or the abundance of gold and silver painted decorations, but the memories associated with the activities surrounding them, like my tattered countdown calendar.
One memory that’s made new every year is when my mom and I decorate sugar cookies. I wish I had some genius recipe but actually the Betty Crocker mixes made with Crisco instead of butter turn out wonderfully and bake to a perfectly textured sweetness that I can’t seem to replicate on my own. The same can generally be said for cake mixes although I was thoroughly scolded from a relative over Thanksgiving for admitting to such a well known convenience (-a convenience for those of us who don’t like to bake that is, as it’s a huge time saver and requires no sifting, separating or sieving. Perhaps an indulgence for you weird people who enjoy all of that preciseness…). Anyways, there is one cookie recipe that proves to be exceptional every year and worth all the measuring and such. I’m pretty sure my little brother or sister got this recipe from school and it makes the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had.
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 boxes instant butterscotch pudding
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 3 tsp ginger
• 3 cups flour
• 1 cup margarine
Mix it all together and bake at 350 for 15 minutes!