Today was our family’s annual cookie bake. Eighteen bakers ranging in age from 4 to 90 years, nineteen cookie recipes, two ovens, and seven hours of chaos in my sister’s kitchen.
I think it’s my favorite day of the year.
Our baking tradition started in 1990 when I was an exchange student to Australia. My sisters Donna and Caroline joined my mom for a day of cookie baking when she was missing “her baby.”
In 2002, Mom gave us little notebooks as gifts. My sister Mary Jane suggested we turn one of them into our cookie journal. I offered mine for the cause.
For fifteen years, we have kept notes in this journal. We write about our flops, like the year Mom forgot to put sugar in the fancy brown cookies because she was worried about Mary Jane and I driving down in snow. We write helpful hints, like how important it is not to put too much filling in the pecan tassies. We sometimes make reference to the fact that someone didn’t read the journal about the last time we had difficulty with a cookie.
Mary Jane started the journal that first year and anointed me the keeper of the journal. Over the years, other sisters and family members have all added to the journal, but each year it comes home with me.
The journal is a record of our family history. The year my father was in the hospital for Thanksgiving, we recorded how we baked in shifts so we could all take turns going to visit him. New births are recorded, as are tragedies.
We all cry when we see Mary Jane’s last entry in the journal tucked against my sister Susan’s words. Her simple message of love, written a month before she passed away, reminds us why we gather together for our annual tradition.
The day isn’t really about the cookies, although we do make some really good ones if I do say so myself. It’s a day full of love and laughter, and I wouldn’t want to start the holiday season any other way.