Christmas cookies. I remember when I was a child, Mom would bake dozens and dozens of cookies—cut-outs, pinwheels, checkerboards, thumbprints, and many more that I don’t know the names of. I honestly don’t know who ate all those cookies, because even with four of us kids plus Mom and Dad, it seemed like an awful lot. I can’t remember what my favorite cookie was, but I’m pretty sure the cut-outs were near the top of the list. I especially loved the reindeer-shaped cutter, and I insisted that we make lots of reindeer. Of course, I also loved cats during that time, but there were no cat cookie cutters around then (or if there were, we couldn’t find them in our small-town stores).
Mom stopped baking when I was a teenager, so I took over as head Christmas Cookie Baker. Now, I never did the real fancy ones like the pinwheels, but I did make cut-outs, chocolate chip, and chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips.
And hermits. Dad’s favorite cookies were hermits, a spice cookie with nuts and raisins that Grandma Daniels used to bake. For such a simple drop cookie, those things seemed to be difficult. They would either get rock hard or not bake through. Dad told so many stories about Grandma griping about her cookies being like rocks. Grandpa always assured her, “Well, then they’re good for dunking.”
I made hermits for the first time the year Grandma had died. Dad warned me that Grandma always had trouble with them, and not to get discouraged if they got hard. I wanted to do it anyway. My first batch of hermits was heaven, baked to perfection, chewy, and spicy-sweet. Dad asked me how I pulled that off, and I told him that maybe Grandma had helped. He said, “Yeah, maybe she did.”