Grandma Verkaik’s Sugar Cookies (a Christmas Cookie Exchange Link-up)

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Today I am going to teach you how to make the Christmas cookies that our family has been making for about 50 years.  And I’m thrilled to share it, and even more thrilled to read all of your heirloom recipes and the stories that go with them.

My Aunts and Uncles have memories of these cookies that extend back into their childhood.  They remember eating them as children and then returning thousands of miles from college to help roll them out and decorate them together.

As for me, I can’t remember a time when these cookies weren’t a huge part of my Christmas.  My dad always made them at home along with 6 other traditional cookie recipes.  He had an affinity for christmas tree shaped cookies, frosted green with green sugar sprinkles. He didn’t like to get crazy with the decorating and I must confess I’m still partial to a good ol’ green tree.

Not only that, but every year growing up my Grandparents would rent a cottage for our family so that we could spend a weekend together over the holidays.  My Dad was 1 of 5 and I have 13 first cousins, so this was no small gathering.

We would play Euchre on card tables, spend hours in the snow and stay up late telling stories and plotting practical jokes.

At some point over the weekend we would roll out these Christmas cookies by the dozens and then spend the next 24 hour devouring them with hot chocolate from a huge thermos.

I love that because of my Grandparent’s intentional living, my cousins and I have these recipes and memories in common. Continue reading

Saved by the Dough

You know the song lyric: “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute, we need a little Christmas now” ?

That perfectly describes the atmosphere in our home yesterday.

Yesterday there were tears and silence, I wept through church, dear reader there is so much I’m not ready to unveil here yet, but when I can, I will.  I promise.

So yesterday I decided that part of our aching may be soothed with a few twinkle lights and some nostalgia. Christmas has historically been the best part of my year, where my family managed to forget the sickness and pain and find joy together.

I grew up measuring my year by it, how many months until Christmas?

Grieving my parents has certainly messed with my feelings about Christmas but I still try to breathe it as deeply as I can, even if it stings a little bit.

So, yesterday we put up our grove of Christmas trees.  No ornaments yet, just the three white lighted trees that spend December in the corner of our living room.  I haven’t even fluffed the branches out yet, they look a little sad but they still do the trick.

Then I shattered a Bath and Body Works Wallflower refill on the tile floor that runs past our living room and the atmosphere really took on a Christmas feel, er.. smell.  Plus the added danger of cleaning up chards of glass while the little ones attempt to investigate the mess.

Then to top is all off we spent the evening listening to Christmas music and baking my Dad’s famous Christmas cookies.  Something about standing over that huge bowl of cookie dough, like I had every year for as  long as I can remember, healed me a bit.

Everything we’re going through, my Dad endured too.  All the gossip, the inner anger and bitterness, he walked through it.  I also know that he came out of it and wanted his children to live with the knowledge that men’s praise does NOT matter.  It’s not why we’re here.

He wanted his kids to be free from people pleasing, from legalism, from caring what other people think of God’s call on their lives.

Somehow in the cookie dough I found that reminder.  I was rejoined to who I am and why I’m here.

Then I ate 3 cookies and fell asleep on Kel’s lap at 8:30.

I think that in December I may share our family’s Christmas cookie recipes with you, what do you think?

What’s something that grounds you to who you are and why you’re here these days?