Small Town Traditions

Our Christmas cookies

We don’t actually make Christmas cookies every year. I want to…I mean, it seems like a tradition that all good families have. They pick a day, do a cookie trade with another family or have cousins over and design all kinds of beautiful cookies…go caroling and share them with others…and all of the good family things that good families do. And since I desperately want to have a good family…that’s what we did this year too.

I prepped by watching 5 different video tutorials about how to decorate cookies. I can actually recite the steps:

  1. Using a piping bag or condiment dispenser to outline your cookie with Royal icing.
  2. Flood the inside of the outline with more royal icing
  3. Add edible glitter or the silver metallic balls (I still can’t remember what they are called) but don’t eat them…you might crack a tooth.
  4. Etc. etc.

I found the perfect recipe on Pinterest (you can check it out here) and checked the cupboards:

  1. Sugar. Check. (We had to chop at it with a knife to break it apart, because apparently when you’re not a baker and don’t use sugar for over a year it gets crusty and sticks together…but I have a great set of knives from Carson’s culinary camp this summer, so we solved that problem).
  2. Flour. Check. (We found a half a bag in the back of the freezer)
  3. Butter. Uncheck. Apparently “I can’t believe it’s not butter” doesn’t count…I checked…so it went on the grocery list along with baking powder (not the same thing as baking soda according to the internet) almond extract and eggs. Oh, we eat eggs, it’s just that Carson finished of a carton for breakfast, so we needed more.

I also wanted to be absolutely prepared for the process, so we bought a whisk…I feel like it’s a good purchase that we might use again at some point. And because I wanted to really commit to the process, I bought condiment containers to use for the Royal icing.

Yes, Kaitlyn is using a wine bottle as a rolling pin.

Speaking of Royal icing…apparently the grocery store around the corner doesn’t just carry meringue powder…who knew…and since I don’t own a mixer…or a beater (I was willing to make the investment, but Kaitlyn reminded me that it’s kind of a big purchase for a once-a-year baking experience, so I didn’t) I knew I couldn’t use egg whites…so instead I found a recipe that only called for powdered sugar and milk. And surprisingly…I had powdered sugar in the cupboard…from that time 3 years ago that I made Christmas cookies with my cheer team. But since there’s no expiration date on sugar (probably…I didn’t actually check) we went ahead and used it.

So…5 demo videos and one grocery trip later, we were ready. Sort of. I mean…we had to hunt down a measuring cup…and fortunately we found a 1/2 cup in the back of the cupboard…so the math was easy from there…and a rolling pin…which we don’t have, but I have plenty of wine bottles, and amazingly, those work incredibly well. We cranked up the Christmas music, mixed and stirred, measured, and rolled, and we made our cookies

And they were terrible.

And ugly.

And nobody actually wanted to eat them.

So now we have a plateful of sucky cookies ready for Santa (he’ll eat anything!) and a few more handfuls laying in a pile on the counter…because of top of everything else, the cat (yes, the bad one) jumped on the counter, landed on the cooling rack, and dumped all of the cookies onto the floor…and now, I’m not sure if we should just dump them or keep them on the counter to look at…it seems a waste to throw away all of that hard work.

These ones are ready for Santa

And it’s not really the cookies that I don’t want to throw away…they aren’t worth keeping around…it’s what they represent. They represent that short period of time in which we were all together laughing and singing, dancing around the kitchen, rolling out dough with wine bottles and leaving everything else behind. And I wonder if that’s the beauty of Christmas traditions in the first place. It’s not the final product of the cookie making, or the caroling, or the gingerbread house competition…it’s the process. It’s the moments in which the kids throw flour at each other and squirt non-Royal icing on each other’s cookies. It’s the moments when someone eats the head off of the gingerbread man and pretends it’s a Halloween cookie instead of a Christmas one. It’s the moments when everyone chimes in to “All I Want for Christmas is You!” even when no one can sing on-key. And it’s the moments when everyone is together for just one moment and despite the fact that the cookies didn’t turn out…the family activity did. And that’s what it’s all about.

So, as I try my best to be the kind of family that has amazing traditions, and does the activities that all good families do…I realize that maybe it’s okay to be just a mediocre family that does mediocre things, as long as we do them together. And today, as some of us are watching football, and some of us are texting our friends, and some of us are writing a blog. I think about the fact that we’re all sitting in the same room being a mediocre family and that everytime one of us looks at another one, we smile back and share the knowledge that is what love looks like. And that’s a tradition that I’ll stick with all year long.

Merry Christmas from a mediocre, but filled-with-love Small Town Girl.

4 thoughts on “Small Town Traditions

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