This recipe is close to my heart. I have many happy memories of my mom and grandmother making these delicious spritz cookies in Christmases past. Grammie’s cookies were always a little bit different. I think she used more candies, like little silver balls on the wreaths, or her food coloring was a bit more intense. But mine are pretty close to my mom’s. We usually divide the dough into three sections, one green, one pink, and one yellow. These cookies should not be browned, just baked through. The almond flavoring and combination of sweet flavors make these the ideal Christmas cookie for me.
For a wedding gift (I think–or many moons ago anyway) my mom gave me my own cookie press, which I pull out once a year to make these cookies. My mom and I have problems getting all of the shapes to work, and this year was no exception for me. I couldn’t get anything but the Christmas trees to work. A friend gave me a cookie “stamp” a few years back, and I use that to stamp an image on the cookies when I get frustrated with the cookie press. There’s some problem with the recipe itself. It’s just too moist for the cookies to “stick” to the cookie pan. If anyone has any ideas for a fix, I’d love to know it.
Last year, I had gallbladder surgery on Dec. 13, and was hospitalized for 3 days. Once I’d recovered enough, I made these cookies. I simply had to. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them! It is funny how we add so much to the Christmas holiday that simply MUST be a part of our tradition every year.
I have a Chinese student, whom I’m helping with his English. He was raised a Christian, and I asked him what his Christmas celebration was like in China. Does his family buy a tree? Decorate the house? Give gifts? Make cookies? Go to Christmas concerts? Have Sunday school Christmas programs? Hang stockings? Nope, he said. All they do is go to church. Wow–wouldn’t that be liberating? I mean, seriously, let’s think about all of the many things we pack into our schedules. All the expectations, hopes, things we feel like our kids must experience. Some of these traditions are great, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in the extras that we forget about what’s really important: giving to others, sharing our bounty, and thanking God for His gift of the Christ child.
Here’s one tradition I really love, though. When all of the cookies have been shaped, sugared, and baked, it’s time for the leftovers to be formed into letter cookies, one for each family member. In addition to our S, J, and J, I decided to add our pet letters too this year, just for fun. Then, as my mom insisted, the letter cookies had to wait until Christmas to be enjoyed. That’s what we did this year too. Lucy, our golden retriever ate hers and at least one cat’s.
Another tradition I love is decorating our church Christmas tree with Chrismons. Chrismons are ornaments (ours are all white or gold). Each of these has special meaning, some symbol from the Bible to remind us of a teaching or Bible story.