Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 11: Traditions with Zach from Thoughts of a Nobody

When I hear someone mention Christmas I don’t think about snow, presents, or even sweet little baby Jesus in the manger. I think of family traditions. I see a family piling into a cramped car and heading out to purchase a Christmas tree. The whole family spending hours walking around a maze of Douglas Firs, Leyland Cypresses, and Blue Spruces searching for the perfect tree, and only accepting its perfection when everyone gives it their vote. I see the same family all together decorating the tree, and making sure no branch is left untouched, and the ever so familiar battle with tangled lights. I see a little boy and girl mesmerized each year by the story of Santa Claus, and the two leaving milk and cookies for good ole’ Saint Nick. The two young kids waking up Mom and Dad on Christmas morning even before the sun peaks above the horizon, and rushing them downstairs to see what Santa left them. Looking back into my own vault of Christmas memories I’d have to say I’ve had my fair share of experiences with traditions. I remember decorating the tree with handmade ornaments created by myself and my sister, and hers always being more perfect than mine. I loathed her for that, and still do, of course in a loving manner though. I remember always having Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s house, and having a spectacular dinner to end the night. I remember waking up on Christmas day, only to find my Mom and Dad already awake waiting for my sister and myself. I remember my sister’s meticulous procedure at opening presents while I sat next to her tearing away like some rabid animal. These all may seem splendid, but there is one tradition that I thrive off of, that seems to bounce around in my head. This tradition is baking Christmas cookies. I had to ask myself why this stuck out so dominantly in my mind and the answer is that it is what I considered the start of the Holiday. We always baked these cookies at my grandma’s house a few days before the 25th of December. My grandma would mix the recipe that she got from her mother the day before, so when my sister and I showed up it was ready to go. It never occurred to me when I was young that my grandma did this, In keeping with the Christmas spirit, it always seemed like magic. We would roll the cookie dough out and then choose our cookie cutting weapons. I always and still do reach for the Christmas tree shaped cutter first and I have no idea why it just seemed right. I remember how much fun the simple act of cutting shapes into the dough was, and always sneaking a taste of the sweet dough when no one was looking. It didn’t really matter though; everyone was doing the same thing. I remember my grandma always making “dirty” Christmas cookie men, and never understanding what it meant until years later. Decorating the cookies was always my favorite part. I always loved frosting a candy cane shaped cookie, shaking red sprinkles to form stripes like the iconic look everyone knows. We always finished decorating early and never ended up with the right amount of cookies, too many were lost to temptation along the way. I loved baking and decorating Christmas cookies during the holiday, and I someday hope to share tradition with my own kids and grandkids. While some traditions have faded away in our family due to loss of loved ones, steps towards a new life in a big city, or even just a simple move to college, we always manage to relive those memories through a simple act of baking and decorating with the Christmas spirit.

You can read more of Zach's musings on his blog Thoughts of a Nobody.

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