Lessons: Cookie Baking Edition

Butter is good for you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you let it, butter can be the source of laughter, of traditions, of gift giving… of creative solutions to get around the annoying grocery store check out limit of one item at the sale price… when you need 12.

This weekend while baking 12 batches of butter cookies with my mom, a few lessons crept in.

Whenever possible, wear goofy hats.

Seriously. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Take the time to be silly. To be a kid. To shed the labels and the personas and the professionalism. Put on a goofy hat and do your job while wearing it. It’s not possible to get mad or short tempered when you see your reflection and you’re wearing antlers, or you have elf ears. Give yourself permission to find joy in little moments, in clearance rack costume nonsense. Wear the goofy hat.

It’s not beneath you, I promise.

Take a break.

There is always more to do. Another batch to mix. Another tray to decorate. Another timer going off. You need to pause. And make yourself a bowl of chili from the crockpot so you can recharge and keep going. So you can burp loudly and laugh about it. If you go and go and go, you miss it.

Their smile. The smell of cookies permeating the house. The twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. That Alvin and the Chipmunks are singing Christmas music to you.

Don’t let the need to “do”, overshadow your need to be present.

Life is best with sprinkles.

Notice that I didn’t say glitter. Glitter comes from the devil. You can’t get that stuff off of anything. Ever. It survives longer than cockroaches. But sprinkles? Those are different. They add color and light and just a tiny bit of sweetness to whatever you’re making.

When you can, add sweetness to what you’re doing or creating.

Sprinkles are the surprise and delight to the project. They aren’t needed but when you can find a way to make someone smile, you should do that. Figure out the sprinkles to your work. The sprinkles to your chores. To your errands. To your responsibilities. If possible, also wear a goofy hat.

Pick up where you left off.

We only bake these cookies once a year. We tried to figure out how young I was when we first started baking Christmas cookies together. Mom did this with Busia before I came along. And there are many years where Mom, Busia and I did this together. Maybe I was 6 or 7? We’re not sure. It was well before social media and even well before digital cameras.

But there is one year in my adult life that I can remember where we didn’t bake cookies together. Busia was in and out of the hospital and Mom couldn’t come to me. And even if I drove up to her, chances are good she would be with Busia in the hospital. So my friends, my elves, came to the rescue and we baked together. Katie and Teddi were my answered prayer.

And next year, Mom and I picked up where we left off.

We kept baking like we hadn’t skipped a beat. We used the same recipe, the same cookie shooter and did what we had always done. Sometimes in life there is a hiccup. Sometimes it’s circumstantial. Sometimes it’s a hurt or a choice that requires an apology. But we have a choice to pick up where we left off. To keep the tradition going. To keep the friendship going. To keep giving.

Sometimes you need to pick up, where you left off.

Honor those who came before.

The recipe we use for our butter cookies is a variation of Busia’s butter cookie recipe. The one she used at Easter to make chickees and bunnies (I always preferred the chickees though they were identical in ingredients to bunnies. They tasted “better” to me). In addition to butter cookies and baking, Busia also loved Cosmopolitans. They were her favorite drink. I loved that woman but she could not hold her liquor as she got older. If she had two, there were going to be stories. So while Mom and I have tweaked the cookie recipe to make it our own… we still honor Busia. Her photo watches over us, and this year I made a terrible cosmo (sorry Mom I am not a bartender) but we drank it and toasted to her.

  • We can choose to include people. In the moment, in the experience…
  • We can choose to remember people and reshare their moments and stories…
  • We can clink glasses and be thankful for those who came before and help them live on in little ways.

Move forward.

Don’t give up on traditions. Tweak them if you like, but always wear a goofy hat, pick up where you left off, be present in the moment… covered in sprinkles, toasting to the legends who brought you here.

thoughts go here... be nice... be thankful...

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