Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?
Christmas cookies come hell or high water
Well, the last thing I made was sugar cookies, one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I felt especially blessed this year because I had my mom, one of my sisters, and my nephew with me. Traditions like this are my touchstone, my little pockets of stability when life goes crazy, as it always does during the holidays. They became especially important after my parents divorced and my mom and three younger sisters all made their way to Southern California while I stayed in Fresno.
It was hard, at first, to adapt. The Christmas season was the hardest of all. But I had the family cookie cutters, sugar cookie recipe, and rolling pin. Come hell or high water, I was making cookies at least once every year. Sometimes I made them by myself; sometimes I invited friends over; a couple of times I made them at my mom’s new home in SoCal when I visited for Christmas.
During most of my twenties, I was something of a nomad, albeit mostly unintentionally. For one reason or another (safety issues, bad management, new roommates) I was moving to new apartments about once every year. One of those moves resulted in the loss of my beloved cookie cutters. I of course didn’t realize they were missing until December rolled around in the new place and I couldn’t find them anywhere. I was devastated! I had grown up with those cookie cutters. I loved the shapes and variety and the nostalgia that wafted through the room with every cut; although I knew I could buy new ones I could never really replace what I lost. They may not have been worth much in a monetary sense, but to me they were priceless.
Looking back, I can see now that the loss of those cookie cutters represented the loss of family life as I knew it. I had still been hanging on to how it used to be, trying to force those feelings by upholding the baking tradition in as identical a way as possible.
Letting go and adding bubbles
But of course I had to learn to let go of how it used to be; I gradually began relaxing my standards for traditions, allowing them to evolve and exist in whatever form was best year to year. I bought new cookie cutters; I let the decoration process be less elaborate (frosting all those cookies could take hours!); I didn’t badger anybody to join me if they didn’t want to.
This is the second Christmas since my mom has moved back. One of my sisters and her son live here too. My youngest sister is back in SoCal and I miss her a lot, especially because she was almost as excited about the annual cookie baking as I was. I’m still hoping that she’ll be able to visit over the holidays and we can have our own baking session.
I know I can’t always have things exactly the way I want them. People change. Circumstances change. Traditions change. The sister who helped with the baking on Saturday added a new twist: mimosas! That is definitely staying in the tradition. See? Change can be good!