It was an annual tradition. On a Saturday in early December, Mother and I would venture to Elsie’s two-story Victorian home to bake holiday cookies, “Christmas cakes,” as the then-90-year-old would call them.
Elsie, a neighbor with no husband or children of her own, would revel in the time spent: a day when three generations could roll dough and share stories in her kitchen drenched in the aroma of vanilla and love.
My job was to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the snickerdoodles or to shape the chocolate jumbles into perfect circles, complete with fluted edges and chopped peanuts. Sometimes, I would carefully peel her beloved lace cookies from the agate cookie sheet and gently place them on a waiting towel, their caramel–rich fragrance soothing my young soul.
After a day of batter and butter, cinnamon and sugar, we packaged our labor in painted cookie tins to bestow on friends and family.
Those Saturdays were magical, memorable, and wonderfully fragrant.
Now, a half-century later, I pull out Elsie’s culinary gems: the seasoned wooden rolling pin, the chipped glass mixing bowls, and rusted cookie tins, and I sniff them.
“Merry Christmas, Elsie,” I whisper.
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