The Serious Business of Sugar Cookies
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“The Serious Business of Sugar Cookies,” Ensign, Dec. 1975, 67

The Serious Business of Sugar Cookies

Christmas memories come back now in bits and snatches, but the one that lingers longest is a vision of sugar cookies.

Mother baked them, and my sister and I decorated them: we were convinced that they should look like a Christmas-cookie-page layout in a fancy cookbook.

Sometimes I was frustrated by Mother’s lack of cookie cutter shapes—she only had about five—but what we lacked in shapes we made up in decorations. We always had at least five bowls of frosting—white, red, yellow, blue, and green—and besides that, we had chocolate shot, silver dragees, red-hot cinnamon candies, raisins, chocolate chips, and at least four colors of sugar.

I think Mother worried that we’d lose interest in the middle of it and she’d be left with all that blue frosting, but there was no danger of that. Her biggest problem was that we only “sort of” cleaned up.

Cookie decorating took place two or three days before Christmas, and produced at least five dozen cookies. During this time, the kitchen was off limits to our four brothers. If a boy wanted to help, he was given a stern lecture on the cosmic importance of his responsibility, and had a trial period during which he had to prove both his earnestness and worthiness. If he snitched or made a green Santa Claus, he was OUT. We were about Serious Business.

Some time during the process Dad would wander through the kitchen and stand with his fingers entwined behind his back and a Mortimer Snerd grin on his face. At first we would mostly ignore him, so he’d clear his throat and say, “How’re you doing?”

“Fine,” we’d say. “Isn’t this a pretty one?” We’d each display one of our most elegant creations.

“Wow, that’s a beauty,” he’d say. “Looks good enough to eat.”

It never occurred to us that he was waiting to be invited to eat such breathtaking cookies. Finally he’d say, “How ’bout a sample?”

If one of the boys snitched, he was banished, but this was Daddy and we couldn’t say no. “Okay, but take one of the broken ones. We’re saving the best ones for Christmas Day.”

Dad was a carpenter and early in our sugar cookie tradition he made a three-tiered plywood cookie tree that we covered with aluminum foil and decorated with a red bow. It was only fitting that our beautiful cookies be served in style.

I don’t remember when we stopped making sugar cookies for Christmas—probably when we became teenagers and outgrew “childishness.” But I’ll always remember that they were beautiful, and that I made them.

In those days we didn’t have money for Christmases full of bicycles and wagons and toy refrigerators. But we always had enough sugar cookies. Pam Williams, Sanders, Arizona