I have been a Christmas Cookie making fan since forever. Well, maybe not that long, but almost. Ever since Rebecca was a teeny baby, the only creative thing I could manage to do while caring for an infant who seemed constantly hungry was to cook. I made elaborate meals every day, and then, when they were ready, could not sit down to eat them, because a demanding other wanted her dinner immediately. A cookie was quite another thing. A babe at the breast could prevent one from sitting down to a nice meal at the table, but could not prevent one from enjoying a cookie. Around Baby’s first Christmas, I made several Christmas specific cookies from my ever trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, and lo! There was a revelation and a tiny miracle-let. The Lebkuchen worked like a little mystical Madeline and transported me back to my Grandmother’s house and reminded me that these were my favorite cookies ever! The next time I made them though, they were a disgusting flop. The dough tasted just as it should, but it refused to ever turn into an actual cookie. I gave it another go the subsequent year, and -- gooey mess again. Determined, I tried yet again and the fourth time was a charm. Delightful! But, as I could not imagine where I had gone wrong with my two earlier failures, I switched to a surer recipe. It was not quite as good, but it never failed.
This year, my failure was spritz – Rachael’s favorite cookie!
I had never made them before, but how could one go wrong with such simple dough? Well, easily, I discovered. Rebecca had been valiantly, but unsuccessfully, trying to motivate herself to launch into the cookies she felt obliged to make. I assured her that life and Christmas would go on if she didn’t make cookies. She had to, she sadly said. How well I know this feeling – of just being unable to start some obligatory something and the ensuing guilt and sense of worthlessness. An hour or two later, I texted her a photo of my spritz and then called her to whine about my failure and how they were Rachael’s favorite and how I had hoped to thrill our Baby. This sent a thrill of Schadenfreude through Becca and galvanized her utterly. She swung into action, and later that evening, as Rachael and I were driving towards Rachael’s house, she texted me a photo of her spritz.
Rachael thought this was not nice of her, but I thought it was très funny, as Rebecca well knew I would. She even posted a blog entry about her triumph! My other cookies, including my sine qua non Christmas cookie, Pfeffernusse, all turned out well, I am pleased to report.