Mom was, and is, a great cook. I swear, every time I call her to chat, she's in the kitchen. So, I have many stories that I could tell that relate to some feast or another, or a cooking mishap, but what I'd like to share today, in the spirit of the season, is a most-cherished memory that began each year on December first.
With weeks to go before Christmas, the only way for the cookies to stay fresh was to freeze them. She'd line shirt gift boxes with tinfoil and waxed paper and layer the treats gently until they reached the top. Then she'd lower the lid, taping the boxes shut - to discourage any early sampling - and store them in the huge chest freezer we kept in the basement. Hmmm...looking back, I guess that was also to discourage us from getting into the cookies. Nicely played, Mom. Nicely played.
At six pm on the dot - I know this because, as the youngest of my siblings, I was tasked with watching the clock, usually beginning at 4 pm...lol - Mom would unveil the Sugarplum Table. What, for the other fifty-one weeks out of the year, was merely a brown, wooden coffee table, it had been transformed into a confectionery buffet. Plates piled high with iced and decorated sugar cookies, gingerbread men, thumbprint cookies, peanut butter 'Kiss' cookies, chocolate chip cookies, meringue cookies, Spritz cookies, and my absolute favorite - bon bon cookies. For as many times as I used the word 'cookies' in the previous sentence, there at least twice that many varieties laid out in front of four, eager young children. After all, we'd waited a month for this moment. Now our patience was to be rewarded. Well, sort of.
There was no way Mom was going to allow us to gorge ourselves, not to mention this 'feast' had to last until New Year's, so we were each permitted to choose one cookie - two, if we pleaded hard enough - to mark the beginning of our Christmas festivities. As our eyes moved from plate to plate, mouths watering, we weighed our options, debating, reasoning, making our choice, then changing our minds.
Chocolate chip cookies are yummy, but Mom makes those all of the time. No reason to start off with one of those. Oooh...I decorated that gingerbread man. Maybe I should eat him first. Nah, he's too cute.
Spritz cookies! I wait all year for those. But wait! How about a chewy coconut meringue cookie? Or a thumbprint cookie? I know, a bon bon!
Choice made, that first bite was heavenly. The second bite wasn't too shabby, either. And the best part? The same spread awaited us every day for a solid week. Our cookie limit was also lifted, though we knew better than to over-indulge. No one wants a stomachache during Christmas vacation.
There are a lot of family traditions that I wanted to pass down if I'd had kids, and the Sugarplum Table was at the top of the list. As it turned out, life had other plans for me but, today, I'm passing it on to you. Maybe you already incorporate something similar into your holiday traditions or maybe it's the first you've ever heard of such a thing. Either way, remember to always make time to make memories. They're sweeter than any treat on the Sugarplum Table.
Oh, and by the way, I'm the proud owner of that Betty Crocker cookbook. The cover is falling off and there are smudges on the pages but the recipes - and my love for them - are the same as they were back in that kitchen all those Decembers while I was growing up.
|Copyright © Kristine Raymond|