Every December my Mother would bring out sacks of flour, sugar, butter, and bottles of vanilla and almond flavorings. There would be zests of lemon and orange and squatty plastic containers filled with colored sugars and confectioners candies. Candied cherries and walnuts would be set aside for garnishments for cookies and date nut cakes. She would fill numerous Christmas tins with cookies and wrap date nut cakes in foil tied with ribbon to give as gifts to family and friends.
Our 1960’s dinette table with its green and yellow flowered vinyl chairs would be covered with cookie sheets and mixing bowls and spilt flour. Her old Mirro cookie press stood ready for service as it had been for countless Christmases past. It could fill eclairs and cream puffs with custard filling and squeeze out lady fingers, but our favorites were the spritz cookies, Christmas trees, and cream cheese cookies that Mom made every year.
When I was a little girl I would watch wide eyed as she turned the knob on the cookie press and the dough came out forming holiday shapes of snowflakes, Christmas trees and wreaths. I would be allowed to decorate them with the colored sugars and candies. My Mom, my sister and I would roll dough for mounds of sugar cookies and then cut them out with the antique tin cookie cutters that belonged to my grandmother. The sounds of Bing and Sinatra crooning Christmas carols from vinyl records would fill the house. It was a happy time and a tradition that has been carried on through the years.
When I was a young wife and we were far from home moving place to place with the Navy I tried to keep that same happy tradition alive. Mom handed down the cookie press to me. Instead of me watching wide eyed at the dough squeezing out it was my son with his knees on the chair and elbows on the table, eyes wide with anticipation . To this day his wife has to make him cream cheese cookie wreaths and I hope the tradition lives on for my grandson.
Unfortunately I can’t pass down the old cookie press. The knob stripped out a few years ago. I couldn’t throw it away, instead it is packed away with other keepsakes. I did find another one at a flea market still in the original box. My mother’s was from the 40’s or 50’s and the one I found is a little newer version, but still the same style. I found one for my daughter-in-law too so the tradition would live on.
I don’t think my mom knows what she started by making those cookies. My cousin remembers her making them when he was a little boy. Twelve years before I ever came on the scene. She would give a hand full to him and my brother and tell them to go play. It is a good memory for him and he still gets excited like a kid when I give him a tin full.
Today I decided to bake a few of those cookies. Bing and Sinatra were crooning in the background as I turned the knob on the cookie press. Warm memories filled the house and just for a second I was that little girl making cookies with my mom and sister.
Handing down traditions is what keeps families connected through the generations. They may change slightly but the memories created are still there generation to generation. What traditions are special to you?
Note: Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Take time to remember our military men who perished and what that day meant to the United States.