Today I will be doing some Christmas baking. It is a crisp, frosty day outside. Kish is up in Vermilion visiting her Mom. The Browns stink, so there will be no NFL-based distractions.
I’ve bought the ingredients and temporarily parked them on the kitchen island. Nuts, flour, sugar, brown sugar, spices, coconut, eggs, butter, and milk, among others — just waiting to be chopped, sifted, beaten, and stirred into something good. I’ve retrieved the familiar Christmas cookie implements from their storage places. The oft-floured wooden rolling pin, seemingly straight from the hands of the angry wife in some 1950s sitcom. The electric mixer, with its variable speeds and whirring efficiency and metal popouts. The motley collection of mixing bowls, each a lone survivor from formerly matched sets. The cookie cutouts that have been gradually accumulated over the years, some of which have been donated by our respective families.
My baking day procedure is time-honored and as comfortable as an old shoe. I play familiar Christmas music, featuring liberal selections from A Charlie Brown Christmas, Bing Crosby, church choirs, and other classics, that puts me into a sentimental, holiday mood. Recipes that require refrigeration are tackled first, so that they can chill while other baking goes forward. As different concoctions are prepared and taken from the oven, the kitchen island fills up. Icing is the last step in the process. And then, after all of the baking is done, platters and gift boxes are prepared by walking around the island, selecting a finely calibrated assortment of baked goodies that are carefully placed on wax paper in colorful holiday boxes.
I always try to bake Christmas cookies early in December. Baking cookies that I will give away to friends and family never fails to put me in a jolly holiday mood.