Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas cookie trade-off

A new holiday tradition

I read Mildred Kalish's exuberant depression-era memoir Little Heathens over the summer, and was so inspired by her family's spirited ingenuity in times of dire need. They were inventive when it came to special occasions like Christmas, and gave one another homemade scarves, pies and toys as gifts.  Throughout the book, Kalish never gives the impression they suffered for want of better things; rather, it seems that her family relished in the work, and had fun doing it.  Fun is not something you would normally equate with the Great Depression, but that's what makes Kalish's perspective unique. 

I wanted to apply a similiar can-do philosophy to Christmas this year.  Being unemployed has meant that I have more time to devote to the holidays but less money to spend. I've been an industrious knitter, and most people on my list will be receiving homemade gifts. Although I wish my circumstances were different, designing and crafting presents for those I care about, with my own two hands, has me looking forward to Christmas morning more than in years past.

In keeping with this theme, some friends and I decided to have a cookie trade party, where we all produced a recipe and its essential ingredients and came together to bake and share.

My friend Kate makes amazing sugar cookies, and had them prepped for us to decorate once we arrived.  We used some traditional Christmas cookie cutters, but also a shape that was closer to our hearts.

We made over a dozen batches of different cookie recipes, working from 4pm to 9pm straight.  We were so engrossed in our baking that we didn't even notice when it started to snow outside.

When we finished, we each had at least 3 dozen cookies to give as presents and eat at home and new recipes for next year.  The ingredients for my recipe cost a grand total of $30.00, and were mostly things that you would have in your cupboard anyway. 

Tins from a local consignment shop completed the gift.  Tip:  My mom always throws a couple slices of bread in with her cookies while storing them.  It keeps them fresh and soft.


  1. I love your peace cookie. I think presents that reflect your heart are always the best ones. Growing up, my little family of three, my mom, me and Devin, didn't have alot of money. But we always had a great Christmas together, with our own traditions and memories outweighing whatever presents were given. Or sometimes, what we did to give each other presents. I remember one Christmas when I was in middle school, I saved all my lunch money from September through December in a band-aid tin to buy my mom a present. I wanted her to have a present under the tree on Christmas morning too. My mom just told me a story about how another Christmas she joined one of those music clubs, where you get so many CDs for a penny, and then Jerry had to drive all the way to Indiana to get her out of her contract, since she didn't have the money to keep up with the club every month. That is multi-layered love.

    I read your blog, and I am so proud you are my cousin. :)

  2. Miss Keedy! This is such a strange post for me today, because #1 I found your blog through Facebook and #2 I'm in the middle of making cut out cookies myself. I have the other half of your cookie collection... I brought the UP with me in copper cut-out form :-D Merry Christmas, hope you enjoy time with your family. -Megan Killian

  3. Erin, thanks for sharing that. I love you!

    Megan, thanks for reading. I'll have to look out for the UP to finish my collection. Merry Christmas!