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Sweet Memories of Mom's Christmas Cookies

by Mary MacVean
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From the L.A. Times

xmascookies.jpgBy Thanksgiving weekend, the prep work was well underway. All year long she'd been saving the boxes from stationery and from her nylon stockings, stashed with the Christmas ornaments. She'd made lists in her perfectly inscrutable handwriting. In our basement refrigerator, she had squirreled away some of the raspberry jam she made during the summer.

So every fall, when my mom told us that she'd grown tired of the whole idea of Christmas cookies and was giving them up, she didn't mean it. We were never sure, though. And we'd whine on cue, begging her to please at least make the kind we just couldn't live without -- for me, the Russian tea cakes, for my brother, the spice cookies called pepparkakor.

But most of her work went on in secret, while we were at school or after we'd gone to bed.

And by Christmas Eve, we'd have maybe 100 dozen cookies, as many as 20 varieties of exquisite, painstakingly formed cookies, stored in our freezer.

As a small child, bringing out box after box of cookies that morning was kind of a miracle. Not quite as wonderful as Santa, who would get a plate of them that night, but part of the blur of a holiday full of magic and surprise.

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