She does have happy memories of helping decorate eggnog cookies, the huge recipe filling the dining table with sparkling colored sugars and silver dragees (illegal in California now!). When she and I got to be teens we took over the job of holiday baking as our mother much preferred cooking to toiling over dough. I still make these mild nutmeg-flavored butter cookies and hope my children follow in the tradition. They do like to help decorate and my youngest loves rolling the dough and cutting shapes.
Homemade cookie-baking is becoming a lost art known mostly to grandmothers now. In these days of busyness (and dieting) many families end up with a box of storebought cookies or at best the sugar cookies from those rolls of dough in the dairy case. My daughter has little friends that like to come over and help bake because it is just not done much in their own homes. I have taught them how to pack down the brown sugar in the measuring cup but let the flour be light and fluffy. I ask them how many quarter-cups make a whole cup, which is the half-teaspoon, what makes the cookie dough rise. Baking can be a math as well as chemistry lesson.
The only “younger” person I know who really bakes for the holidays (besides me) is our neighbor, the Cookie Queen, who each year has an open house filled with every cookie imaginable. She puts all us other moms to shame! She starts in September, I think, and must have a freezer set aside just for cookies. Her sons are lucky kids whose wives will have some big oven mitts to fill.
So perhaps you can make REAL cookie baking a holiday tradition for your family. Just one batch is enough to thrill the kids. Warm up the oven on a cold day, mix those comforting baking smells with the evergreen scent of the tree, and enjoy soft, fresh cookies – without the preservatives!
PS: for the eggnog cookie recipe, see Making Christmas Memories from Dec 2005