Spreading Joy with Cookie Cutters
When I was 7, my mother was the grade mother for my 2nd grade class at Morehead School in Durham. For class holiday parties, my mom and a few others baked Christmas cookies.
I knew my mom would be in the kitchen for a while. and that my brother Sam and sister Joy (Alex, the youngest, had not arrived at this time) were much too young for the cookie-baking process, so I felt confident that I’d have my mom to myself for a few hours.
She started by mixing the butter, sugar and eggs together, then added the salt, vanilla and flour — very slowly as it stiffened. She rolled out the dough and pressed in the cookie molds, then flipped each over, gently pushing the dough into the mold. She then smacked the mold onto the counter in hopes it would come out in the right shape. It seemed to take forever. We sang carols and she told me stories of funny silly things she did when she was a little girl. It was our very special time together. We cleaned the kitchen together (well, she cleaned the kitchen), and we sprinkled colored sugar on the cookies as they came out of the oven. The three-dimensional cookies were so different from plain‑cut cookies. I was very proud to have a part in creating them.
Twenty years later, I was helping my mom clean out her kitchen cupboard and ran across the cookie molds in their original box with the original recipe and instructions: Aunt Chick’s Merry Christmas Cookie Cutters. At the time, my son Will was in the 2nd grade and I was a grade mother for his classroom. So, I was given the cutters and went home to give it a try. Soon after the mixer started blending the dough, I found Will on the kitchen stool beside me. We were singing carols, and I was telling him stories of funny silly things my mom did when she was a little girl. (I didn’t do anything funny or silly!)
Will grew up, but I continued to make the cookies for our friends with children, and also for each of my music students.
Will grew up, but I continued to make the cookies for our friends with children, and also for each of my music students. Going through the trouble to paint the cookies with confectioner’s sugar mixed with coloring and water, they turn out looking more like ornaments than cookies.
Recently my grandsons helped me make the cookies. One on each side as the mixer blended the dough, and as we rolled it out, we sang carols and I told them funny, silly stories of things their dad did when he was a little boy. (Remember, I didn’t do anything funny or silly!) This was truly special time together.
I now gather some friends to go to the Ronald MacDonald House in Durham and make cookies for 40 or so families. These families have children who are in the hospital. Many of them will not celebrate Christmas at home this year.
Bett Padgett, Raleigh
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