TODAY’S FORECAST: Encouraged
My mom called the other day, hoping to coordinate our equally busy schedules, to secure some time in the next couple months when we could get together to make Christmas cookies. My first thought was “Seriously, I’m not even ready for Halloween, I can’t even think about Christmas yet;” but my next thought was, “Maybe we’ll make “shit, damn” cookies.” Yes, you read that right: “shit, damn” cookies, or as we’ll refer to them in the rest of this post, “SD” cookies – for short.
Christmas cookie baking has been a tradition in my household since before I was born. My mom is one of those people who loves to bake and is really good at it. She doesn’t just make a few different kinds of Christmas cookies, 14 different kinds was usually the norm. As she’s gotten a little bit older she’s pared it down to about 9 and still feels guilty about it. Me, who is a self-proclaimed non-baker, still looks at her thinking, “Mom, you are still crazy, but YOU TOTALLY ROCK!”
One of my favorite kinds of Christmas cookies that my mom makes is Spritz cookies. You know, the really buttery ones that you make with a press? When we were kids, my mom used to color them red, yellow, green and blue with food coloring so that there would be an array of colors for our cookie platters. Then she’d sprinkle them with those colored, sugary decorating crystals and we’d eat to our hearts content.
Now, if any of you reading are over the age of 40 or have an older family member that bakes, you might remember the old-time cookie presses that were used to make Spritz cookies. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ve included a picture here for your viewing pleasure. In the old days, you had to put Spritz cookie dough into the canister, screw in the desired shape plate and then twist the black handle to squeeze the cookie dough out onto the baking sheet. The problem was, if the dough was too stiff it wouldn’t come out of the press and if it was too soft the cookies would come out looking like dough blobs that wouldn’t amount to any shape at all. You actually had to lay the press on the cookie sheet to dispense the cookie and sometimes half of the dough would stick to the sheet and half would stick to the canister. It was these times that my Mom could be heard praying aloud “Please Lord, please let this cookie come out of this press.”
My mom is a devout Catholic. She is probably one of the most Christian people I’ve ever met. I think I could probably count on one hand the times I heard her swearing when I was growing up, and about 4 out of 5 times it was for these cookies. The first few were always a challenge before she found her groove. In the midst of Gene Autry singing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer over the stereo we’d hear Mom exclaim, “Shit! Damn!” and knew Spritz cookies were on their way. So we began to lovingly refer to them as “SD cookies,” in honor of Mom’s hard work every year.
About the time our Jacob was born, I tried my hand at selling Pampered Chef. With all of my newfound consultant points, I bought my mom a Pampered Chef Cookie Dough Press. It is a much easier contraption to handle, with a trigger pull and cookies that come out perfectly every time. No dough blobs getting stuck in the end, no cookies sticking half on the press, half on the sheet. It’s even dishwasher safe. My mom thought it was pure genius. My brother and I agree that it took all the fun out of SD cookie- making. Ask Mom to make a Spritz cookie now and she gladly will do so easily (and without profanity) with her wonderful cookie press. Had I known that I would ruin family tradition with that simple purchase, I may never have bought it in the first place.
No, seriously, these days Mom makes perfect Spritz cookies that taste the same, are less painful for her to make and still as yummy for our families to eat. I’m glad that I could lessen her frustration, even if we did so enjoy those devilish moments that making SD cookies induced. Maybe when I go to make cookies with her this year I’ll ask her if we can pull out the old press, just for old time’s sake. Or maybe I’ll just ask her to pretend and yell, “Shit! Damn!” while we’re using the new press. Either way, it’s a memory made for a lifetime and it still makes me smile. Love you Mom!