Amish cook

From my corner in the office, where I was finishing up a note to a friend, I heard the entrance door open. My mother’s cheery voice caught my attention. Next came Hosanna’s inquisitive: “Whose birthday is that for?”

Mom’s chipper voice popped up, “Why, it’s Jesus’ birthday!”

As I rounded the corner, I saw it with my own eyes: a plateful of attractively decorated cut-out cookies with the one in the center gracing a large birthday candle. I took it all in. There was my little daughter dancing with delight, her freshly washed curly hair bobbing up and down. Her little brothers all gathered around as Grandma handed the plate of fresh cookies to eager hands.

It only takes a grandma to bring an extra-ordinary splash into an ordinary day. “These little heart-shaped ones are for you children,” she explained. Knowing that we monitor their sugar in-take, she proceeded, “You may have one at a time, whenever your mom tells you so.”

There were more little dances of delight as we set the table for supper.

As soon as the main course was finished, I cleared the table of emptied food dishes. (I can’t relax with dessert if the table is too cluttered with unneeded pots or pans.) Julia fetched the plate with birthday cookies. In preparation for lighting the candle, we turned down the lights so everyone could enjoy the soft glow. As is our custom with birthdays, we lit the candle, then all sang Happy Birthday, only this time it was to Jesus. My heart glowed as I explained to the children that this song is heard, even in heaven!

How old is Jesus?” Hosanna wondered. My mind flashed here and flipped there. “Well, Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago, but in heaven he does not grow old, neither does He grow old in our hearts,” I explained.

Now you probably remember in last week’s column we talked about Grandma taking her grandchildren Christmas caroling. It turned out to be an amazing event. Get the picture: grandma, who I am delighted to call my mother, glowing with eight of her grandchildren, ages four to ten. They are all bundled up, going from house to house singing Christmas carols at seven different homes sprinkled through the quiet country side. My mom was busy in the kitchen that day as she made candy, party mix, and more cut-out cookies to put on trays to pass out along their way.

They winded up their singing as they lined up on our porch and sang for us, beaming through the windows. Afterward they came in for snacks and hot chocolate. They each found the setting with their name, at the little picnic tables I had set up and decorated for them. All too soon the evening was past. The memories remain etched forever.

From all the cut-out cookie recipes we’ve tried, this one remains our favorite! Enjoy.

Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter,melted

2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons soda

5 teaspoons baking powder

5 1/2 cups flour

Combine in order given. Chill dough for a couple hours. Roll out on floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters and place on cookie sheets. Bake at 350 until cookie is set (8 – 10 minutes). Don’t over-bake. Cool and frost and enjoy! Yield will depend on your size of cookie cutters, approximately 5 dozen.

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