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Christmas Cookies

I lived with my sister, Caryl, the first Christmas after her husband died. Nothing was going to make that year better for my niece, Kellie, and nephews, Kenny and Lenny, but I did everything I could to keep some cheer in their lives. I often packed their school lunches and put special treats in the boxes. That day’s treat was often the first thing each child exclaimed about as he or she came through the door at the end of the school day.

As is traditional in my family, Christmas found me doing a lot of baking. When I made the rolled and cut sugar cookies, I hit upon the idea of not just decorating them, but painting them and making them trully beautiful. I made buttercream frosting in a half-dozen different colors, and I painted the Christmas trees green with brown trunks and yellow stars. I decorated them in multico;ored sprinkles. Santa’s sled was red, the runners were gold, and the presents inside came in many hues. I painted and sprinkled stars, angels, bells, and more — each with an eye to detail.

The house smelled like cookies when the kids came home from school. I gave them undecorated cookies and the left over frosting so they could design their own after school snacks. The cookies I had decorated were hidden.

That night, after the kids went to bed I took out the hidden cookies, wrapped them carefully, and placed them with love in each lunch box. The next day I waited anxiously by the door when, Lenny, a kindergartener only in school a half day, was due home.

Sure enough, he burst through the door, his face shining with joy. He cried, “Aunt Charlene! Aunt Charlene! Your cookies were the best!”

Naturally I beamed with pride.

He thrust out one gubby little hand with an ancient yellow yo-yo clasped in his fist, “I traded them for this!”

Before my ego completely crumbled I reminded myself that I’d made the cookies to make him happy, and they had obviously been a success. Then he added frosting to my contentment by asking anxiously, “You still have some of them cookies left don’t you? Can I have some?”

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. they must have been almost too pretty to eat! I don’t make good Christmas cutout cookies- they come out like little thin burnt crusts…so, I cheat and make candy instead.

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Pauline — thank you.

    OC — iced or plain? Which shape? Sprinkles or not? Milk or hot chocolate? (You may not dip my yummy cookies in your Coke.)

    Cindy — make the cookies fatter, and don’t bake them for as long as the recipe says. Leave them just a tiny bit soft in the middle, because they continue to bake a bit even after you take them out of the oven.

  3. OC, you are good at that!

    AQ-will you bake me cookies? The last thing I remember having in Gram’s kitchen was cauliflower. I adore it. But it’s not sugar cookies.

  4. I’ll give you a working over if you really want me to. It’s gonna hurt though. And I don’t know what it has to do with making cookies. You really are an interesting one…

  5. Quilly, the answer is yes. Though toll house, homemade, always top the list. And I don’t pollute my cookies. Take ’em straight.

    You tryin’ to tell me somethin’, Cindra?

  6. Cindra — never you mind. You know too many of my embarassing secrets. Here — have a cookie — and don’t talk while your mouth is full.

    OC — Yes is the exact same way I would have answered that question, and I am partial to Tollhouse, too. I especially like them hot out of the oven while the chocolate is still melty and burning my fingers. As to dipping, I suspected as much …

  7. Damn, and I so wanted to give you a working over…Merry Christmas! Oh, and being me, I always say it wrong and tell my kids not to eat with food in their mouths…goes over well!

    OC-well…actually…no. Merry Christmas to you too, cookie monster. Dip on, dude.

  8. Charlene, the kids (ages 36,37,38)and I were just talking about those cookies yesterday and the ones you made with them out of salt dough and decorated for Christmas tree ornaments. I still have a special few of those that have weathered the past 26 years of storage in various attics, basement and garages! They have so many wonderful memories of their Auntie!! not all children were as lucky as mine! They certainly never lacked for love or attention from any of us. Thanks, it has been great having you in my life. Love Caryl

  9. Caryl — I love you and I adore your children. As you can tell by the stories on, The Grownups Wanted Us Dead many of my most precious memories revolve around your children.

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