My grandmother, Christine, was known for her Christmas cookies and we all looked forward to them every year. She must’ve gotten started making them in October because it seemed like she had an endless supply packed carefully in Tupperware® (the real stuff) in her freezer.
If a cookie recipe called for nuts, grandma used pecans, often sent to her by her sisters in Georgia. Her sisters painstakingly picked, shelled, and packed the pecans into Ziploc freezer bags and sent them to grandma who stored them in perfect stacks in the second freezer in her garage.
Grandma made crescent cookies (like Mexican [or Russian, depending on your perspective] tea cookies but made with pecans and carefully shaped by hand into crescent shapes) dusted with powdered sugar. She also made mini pecan pies, fudge slices laden with mini marshmallows in pastel colors, and toffee bar cookies topped with melted chocolate and sprinkled with chopped pecans.
When guests dropped by, grandma set out a plate of cookies. She carefully metered them out for family and would let you know if she thought you’d had your share, which is when she would offer you fruitcake instead.
My mother and aunts knew to go directly to the source and would sneak cookies from the stash in the freezer. I don’t remember ever daring to do so myself although I wasn’t above swiping a marshmallow from the jar in her pantry.
One Christmas a few years ago I attempted to reproduce my grandmother’s tradition. I spent weeks mixing, baking, and storing the cookies. I served them to guests and boxed them up to deliver to a few people including Richard, the old man who lived alone on the corner of MLK and E. Pike. After doing it myself I can tell you that I gained new respect for the amount of work my grandmother exerted to maintain that tradition every year and that I guarded my freezer stash almost as closely as she did. But I’m sure my husband and children swiped a few. At least I hope they did.
Offering: one wooden rolling pin (that never belonged to Christine)