I’ve been busy this afternoon and evening baking cookies for Christmas. It is, at times like these, I remember, although my heart is in it, I struggle to be a good Baker. I will never be Martha Stewart, I will never be my Grandma Isabelle and I should just throw out all those pages of pretty cookies, cakes and the like that I have ripped out of magazines in the hope of mine turning out as pretty as those do in the pictures.
I always make some mistake. Like, realizing I left out the brown sugar after I have already started adding the flour to the chocolate chip cookies. What can I do? I add it in midway between the flour and cross my fingers hoping for the best. Or I run out of the icing when I clearly followed the directions. I’m sure I don’t have enough powdered sugar left to make another batch so I just grab the tube of decorator icing of red and black left over from Halloween. I figure out on the first cookie I have no talent for designing even an easy swirl of a circle, that’s why the icing is left over from Halloween to begin with!
I have a fuzzy memory in my head. I think it is a real memory, but I cannot, no matter how hard I think on it, have a crystal clear picture of the people around it. I can see an old black cookie tin. I remember flowers on it, maybe pastel, maybe not. I remember the wax paper peeking out from under the closed lid, sitting on an old gray 1950’s, maybe 1960’s kitchen table, the one with the naugahyde cushioned seats or maybe they weren’t. It would have to be my Grandma Isabelle’s house, because I remember frosted Thumbprint cookies in that tin. She was the only one who made them.
I’ve been thinking of that old black tin and my Grandma’s cookies all day. My Grandma’s cookies were perfect. They were pretty and the best tasting cookies I have ever eaten. I have never since had a thumbprint cookie that tasted like my grandmother’s.
The Old Norwegian tradition (my grandmother’s mother came here from Norway, I don’t recall whether my Grandma made seven different cookies or not, I was too busy eating them and admiring their beauty) is to make seven different types of cookies at Christmas time. There is a list of traditional cookies. Along about January I decided that this December would be different. I would make the time to bake fabulous cookies. I knew enough of my skills to not attempt the traditional cookies and just chose cookies I wanted to make. Well of course this December has been no different than any other. There are not enough hours in my day! Yet I told myself over and over again for the last week I would, come Hell or High water, bake cookies this weekend! I’m happy to report Hell and the High water are not currently winning the battle. I’ve made three out of seven cookies today. For me that is remarkable. I did not give up after the first set of cookies, Sparkling Oatmeal cookies. I made it through that batch without a mishap of the baking. It wasn’t until I got to the icing the trouble arose, but I had already started the second batch, another oatmeal cookie with coconut. A recipe my friend Nancy made last Sunday. I can honestly say mine did not look perfect like Nancy’s. And then of course it was the fiasco of the brown sugar on the chocolate chip cookies, but I persevered. I’m sure the “Fistmas” Holiday Ale by Revolution Brewing poured into a wine glass that reads, “Don’t Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle may have helped, or possibly the second glass or maybe those two glasses were the problem. I can honestly say my Grandma Isabelle did not crack open a can of ale to get through her Holiday baking.
Tomorrow is a new day and after I finish shuttling the 13 year old around and get some Christmas shopping done and whatever other excuse I can think of to stay away from the kitchen, sooner or later I will be back in my little kitchen working on a few more cookies, well at least one other cookie.
Tomorrow I will try to make my Grandma’s thumbprint cookies. I already know they won’t be the same as Grandma’s. I know myself too well for that. I will be happy to just not burn them or leave out an essential ingredient like an egg (I left that out of her Kringla recipe). I have never tried to make the thumbprint cookies before, but I miss my Grandma and I am hoping, somehow making these cookies, will bring her closer to silencing my heartache. I do miss her especially at Christmas. I miss that old black tin, whether it is a figment of my imagination or if it truly was real, it is a memory of wonderful times that will never be again.
I don’t know what happened to that old tin. I thought about it over and over today. I’ve never put cookies I made in a tin. I had never even given it any thought until I decided to make her cookies. My chocolate chip cookies have always gone in the old plastic Tupperware. It only seemed right my thumbprint cookies should be placed in a tin for old memories of Grandma’s tin, for Grandma’s house at Christmas. I went out today after I bought my baking supplies and bought a couple old tins from the thrift store, they don’t look like Grandma’s old tin, but they made me smile when I found them. I washed them up and I am putting my cookies in what have now become my old tins. The cookies, nor the tins will be the same as Grandma’s, but they are mine, my creations and my heart will be light as I remember that old black tin of Grandma’s sitting on that old gray kitchen table at Christmas time. I will open my tin and take out a thumbprint, close my eyes and feel the presence of my Grandmother beside me. Merry Christmas Grandma.