One of my earliest Christmas memories is baking sugar cookies with Mom and Grandma Johnson. I have Grandma's old-fashioned recipe...the kind that is made with heavy cream. I use that from time to time for sentimental sake and sometimes I use my friend Sonia's Snickerdoodle recipe (church friends...it's in the CNC cookbook) which makes awesome fluffy sugar cookies, minus the cinnamon. But my favorite all time recipe is "Ethel's Sugar Cookies" from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. It has been reproduced and claims to be authentic to the 1963 edition. Mine is a 1963, 1st edition, 6th printing. I love that it was passed from Aunt Grace to my Mom to me and has a couple little notes. This may not be the healthiest cookbook on my shelf, but it's a classic with the type of recipes that your Mom and Grandma made when you were growing up, not 4 hour martha-ish recipes that don't always turn out. The 60s line art is fun and the photos bring back memories too. I'm curious, how many of my blog readers also have this book.
While I am surprisingly satisfied living in our little tin shoe box, the one thing I have the most difficulty with is our family and storage unfriendly kitchen. I would love to build some of the same memories with my own children, but it is difficult with four or five in the kitchen! Today I whipped up a batch of Ethel's which are cooling in the fridge. I am working on a compromise. I think I will cut out the shapes on our 2 feet of cupboard (not kidding...there's 3 1/2 feet, but there is a mixer and Vita-Mix there too) and then place them on the baking sheets and bring them to the table for the kids to put the sprinkles on. I don't even have Christmas colors left, so I think we're going to just use the pinks, lavenders and spring green and multi sprinkles that we already have on hand and just cut round shapes. They can look like Christmas balls or snow balls! I don't think the kids will care, do you?
I'm taking a break from the kitchen while writing this. Today is baking day. Every year we take packages to 8 or 9 of our neighbors, filled with cookies, white chocolate popcorn and pumpkin bread, clementines or other goodies we make. We go out together as a family to deliver them. We live in a community where people are a little suspicious of their neighbors (and sometimes rightly so), but we try to share a little bit of Christ's love in neighborly sharing. It's a small step, but a step none the less, in building relationships.
So, I would like to challenge you this Christmas or Hanukkah to make and/or bake and take something to one (or more) of your neighbors that you don't know very well. It will be a blessing. Take advantage of the world's materialistic season...often this is the only time of year that some people will accept gifts or acts of kindness. Who knows what doors to friendships and relationships you may knock on with your gift!