The new year breaks, and after a brief look at resolutions that may or may not be kept in the coming months (or days), I am considering all the traditions I want to repeat in my new year. My mind very naturally turns to cookies.
Now, I must confess that in a list of favorite types of desserts, cookies do not even make an appearance in my top five. Pies are, of course, number one, followed by cakes, ice cream, puddings, and pastries. When we eat cookies at my house, they are always someone else’s suggestion. However, during the holiday season last month, and in all the holiday seasons of recent memory, my daughters and wife plan a day to devote to a mammoth cookie bake. Cookies, you understand, are a tradition for them. On their
collective calendars, a cookie bake date appears way before Thanksgiving and none of the invitees would ever consider canceling the event. This past year, the bake date fell on a Saturday, so I was a witness to all the festivities and chaos.
Traditions are passed along from generation to generation. My extended family would congregate in summer for the annual reunion that brought the Terrell clan from far and wide to
one of the uncles’ home places in Central Louisiana. Like many other families who have the same tradition, our extended family celebrated each other over shared recipes and shared memories, extending to the next generation. Want to know who we are as a family? Come early for the preparation, stay for the meal, and linger for the songs and stories, learn the history and legacy
of being us. Being connected matters. Our traditions remind us of that.
Some traditions pop up almost unexpectedly as a one-time event only to recur over and over until, like reunions, they are markers on each year’s calendar. These can include a family’s way of celebrating birthdays—while most of us honor the special day of our loved ones, we seem to go about it in unique ways. When our children were young, each arrived at the breakfast table to have gifts waiting in their honor. Right after we enjoyed waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream, we sang the song, cheered
the honoree, and watched as torn gift boxes and ripped paper revealed birthday treasures. Later that day, the favorite dinner meal of the birthday person was served, followed by the cake of choice, more singing, more celebrating. Such good memories to recall and laugh again at the simple times and the joy we felt.
The annual cookie bake takes place at our house. My now grown daughters arrive early laden with needed kitchen appliances, baking supplies, and festive tins, brightly colored cellophane
bags, and cardboard boxes to carry goodies home. Favorite Christmas movies from their personal collections will be watched while carols break out spontaneously.
This tradition is now six years old. Before then, since the girls lived with us, there was no need for a day set aside to bake together. Piece-meal, it came together little by little, a series of bakes
that culminated in colossal amount of treats to share and give away. When that reality evolved, the new tradition sprang to life.
From my place on the outskirts of the event, I watch the women in my life, so different from their younger selves, acting, reacting, interacting with each other, all with their own personalities, one so different from the other and yet all amazingly working together. There are hilarious moments, small mishaps, the inevitable
spills, and minor catastrophes, and yet the sweet aroma from the cookies brings smiles to all. I marvel at the way the chaos turns into order, the tiredness changes to satisfaction.
Families have traditions to celebrate and unite all involved. Year in and year out, we resolve to keep our union strong, to support
each other, and to be the cheering fans we all need on the sidelines of our lives. As this new year unfolds, may we hold tight to all that will not fade, nor tarnish, nor lose value. Thanks be to God Who goes before us into the unknown and bids us follow: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I look over at those weary and wonderful faces, and I am indeed aware of a strong, good future.
Samples? Yes, please! And may this tradition remain a part of my life. Our lives.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children