All day long I've had a family Christmas tradition on my mind, one that I won't be a part of this year. It was always something I looked forward to every year for the last fifteen, since we started it. Alas, this year it's not meant to be.
The Saturday before Thanksgiving my two cousins in Maryland, Debbie and Diane, along with my Aunt Rachel and I gathered in Debbie's kitchen and spent the day baking Christmas cookies. It became known as Cookie Day. The four of us assembly lined homemade cookies until well after dinner, producing a hundred dozen or more.
There were certain types we made every year; cinnamon strips, oatmeal, peanut butter, sinful variations of chocolate. Every year we added a few new ones, recipes we'd found during the year we wanted to give a try. We took requests, too.
The rule was you had to submit your recipes to Deb by Halloween. She then coordinated everything. She'd split up the ingredients and arrange the baking order. She had two ovens, i.e. why her house was always the bakery, and she'd arrange the baking so the oven temps started at a lower temperature and went up as the day progressed.
It was a great day of fun, chat and chocolate, peanut butter, etc. Family members dropped in and dropped out all day long. We switched stations, mixing, cookie sheets and baking.
Then Sunday after church, we'd meet at Aunt Rachel's for lunch, whose house is between Debbie and Diane's. After a great meal, we'd trot back over to Deb's for any last minute touches to the cookies, i.e. drizzling icing and divide them up equally amongst everyone who pitched in.
Most of the family simply had them around the house until Christmas. I always took mine to work that Monday as my gift to my co-workers. I think I looked forward to that most of all.
So all day long, I realized that this Saturday was Cookie Day and I wouldn't be there. Maybe next year, I'll do the same thing in Tennessee or be able to travel to Maryland for the bake fest. Even if I just do it myself next year in my kitchen here, I will.
After thinking about it all day long, I came home and checked my messages. I was floored at the number to my email and on Facebook from former co-workers at Barnes & Nobel lamenting that they will miss me on Monday, because I will not be bringing in cookies.
I hate to sound "punny", but that is so sweet. It's good to be remembered for something. I think of all the jobs I've had, my job as newsstand lead in the Lancaster, PA Barnes & Nobel is the one I loved the most. The co-workers were all like family, and the customers to some extent even more.
Unfortunately, this year I will be giving my Lancaster family only cookies of the heart. I hope those that lament the lack of confections on Monday will at least remember me fondly and know that were it possible I'd be there encouraging them to ruin their waist lines.
I miss you all, and believe me I'll be missing Cookie Day more than you,