So 9 is the magic age. The age when you ask kids to decorate Christmas cookies, and they do it better than you do!
In a kitchen full of sunshine, carols, and frosting, we spent an afternoon decorating Grandma’s gingerbread, rolled out and cut into snowmen, mittens, candy canes, snowflakes, and angels. We know better than to try to make reindeers and camels because the legs always break.
Some of us know better than to lick our fingers, but this really IS the easiest way to keep them clean!
Cookies are a tradition that Christmas couldn’t exist without. In Austria they are sold in every grocery store starting in early November, and traditional women (I would be one of those) take days off work to immerse ourselves in powdered sugar and flour. Helene, my Austrian friend, brought us a tin of of little cookies in all these different shapes. They were such an impressive labor of love, I couldn’t resist taking pictures!
Gus Gus couldn’t resist them either.
At our holiday house in Zell Am See, Jake, Eli, and Sahara were equally impressive at the zen of cookie decorating. What artists! Or maybe I’m just surprised, as a mom who has gritted her teeth for the past 8 years while watching her delicate cookies smothered into inedible, crusty mounds of goo? Who are these gentle kids, sensitively placing red hots in all the right spots?
Christmas is magic because it’s when we take time to think of others, to plan ahead, to bother to make things special. The gifts are not the whole story. It’s also about letting the people around us know that they matter. For those of us that do this by baking, Christmas is a dream come true. Helene made us hundreds of Austrian Christmas cookies. Peter, the owner of the house we rented in Zell Am See, showed up on Christmas Eve with a homemade Sachertorte.
Our friend Lilly and her mom, Dora, made us a Hungarian apple cake.
Two weeks ago we crowded around a Christmas table at Forchtenstein Castle to ice lebkuchen snowflakes. Is it apparent yet that my love language is baking?
Or even better, spending an afternoon baking with the most precious children in the world?
The urge to create and believe in one’s ability is the great gift of childhood. As kids become adults this urge to create, and also to believe, sadly disappears.
But for now, we are in the middle of the best part. This dimension our children give us is the best gift of all.
And we can even eat the cookies! Or at least most of them. We’ll keep Hunter’s cookies in their own special place for another year or two :).