Like many families, mine has a tradition of making Christmas cookies. My mother used to make dozens of dozens, filling large boxes full to send to people as presents (particularly the kids when we went off to school) and keeping plenty on hand to snack on for months. Sometimes there would still be some stored in the freezer by the time the next Christmas rolled around.
For a few years, I followed her example and would wind myself up into a tizzy of cookie making. However, eventually, she and I both realized that, while cookie making is fun in the short term, once you get past a couple hundred dollars' worth of ingredients and a half-day's worth of cooking, it gets overrated real fast. Neither one of wanted to have stress-related breakdowns over whether we'd get all the damn cookies done, or who burned what, or how to get them shipped in time, anymore. And so, every year we try valiantly to resist making too many cookies. Yet, every year, the urge to bake returns.
So, what to do? I want to make a few cookies - enough to make us feel cozy, indulgent and satisfied as we loll around over our break, despite not exchanging presents due to a tight budget. But which to make? When you have multiple kinds of cookies enshrined as family traditions, how can you choose just a few?
It's puzzling enough that Mrs. Nator and I are setting aside a particular time to talk about it. I happen to know that Ma Nator is making gingerbread and chocolate chip, and Sis and Bro-in-law Nator usually make pinwheels and ranger cookies, so those are out. For me, I think I'm going to set the rule that I am not going to make any cookies just because they're someone else's favourite. If the Mrs. & I can do without 'em, they're off the list. Also, we don't need multiples of particular flavours. One kind of chocolate item, like brownies, will do, as will one fruity item and one buttery item. And for heaven's sake, no kinds that have to sit around for several days, or be chilled overnight, or what-have-you, just to get done. Let's keep it simple, people. This is supposed to be fun and fulfilling, not a chore.
So, my short list this far? Brownies, macaroons and jewel brooches (a buttery cookie with jam in the middle). And possibly those white trash concoctions made of Saltines, butter, sugar and chocolate chips that my ex-roommate introduced to us. That's it.
Now watch me break these rules just because we "must" bring those pecan sandies and/or lemon cookies to Mrs. Nator's family in Atlanta, or everyone will cry and think we don't love them.
What are your holiday cookie musts?