We had a cookie contest today at the facility. I baked cookies and managed to win "Most Like Christmas Cookies". It was fun and helps build the team, but making the cookies was most interesting. For the first time, I made a recipe my mom had always made. For as long as I can remember, the cookies were just called Mrs. Zieg's Cookies. They were named after a neighbor of my grandparents who had given the recipe to my mom. Every year these cookies were a favorite at the house and enjoyed by all. It's been at least eleven years since I last tasted the cookies. Long before she left the earth, my mom had lost her ability to manage recipes and bake these gems.
It was a strange trip backwards for me. Years ago, two copies of the recipe were one of the few things I kept (along with the family photos and a handful of Christmas ornaments) that tie me to the world where I grew up. One of the recipes is the tattered and faded old typewritten index card that I remember my mom dragging out of a cookbook every holiday season. The other is a hand-written copy she wrote for me after I left home to live on my own. She didn't realize I never had a reason to bake those cookies as long as I could go home and visit them.
As a kid I had a great time shaking colored sugars and sprinkles on the cookies as my mom rolled and cut them. It's funny how our tastes change over time. Then I always enjoyed the trees topped with a chocolate chip. Now I enjoy the tree cookies with cinnamon-sprinkled bases. For all of us, there comes that time when you can't go home. At least the cookies let me look back.