Wednesday, December 14, 2011
When I was a young girl, every year a big cardboard box package tightly wrapped in brown paper bags would arrive at our family's house the week before Christmas. It contained lovingly arranged presents and other various items, like an ornament or candle holder, and always some sort of hand towel to fill in the extra spaces. At the bottom of the box was the most special treat of all--a metal tin filled with my Oma's homemade German Christmas cookies. We each had our favorite kind, and it was oh-so-difficult to not eat them all at once, lest we have not a one left past midnight! After we each ate just one (two, if it was a big tin that year!), the metal can was promptly sealed back up--even the tissue paper lining it carefully folded back in place as if it was never touched--and under the tree it went, hidden as much as possible, to be rediscovered Christmas morning.
As I grew into an adult, I always felt like a child again around this time of year, eagerly anticipating that package with those cookies to show up on my doorstep, whatever door life had taken me to. Then came the Christmas (many years ago now), when my doorstep was empty, and the hole under my tree felt as big as the one in my heart. The loss of my Oma was deeply felt that first Christmas without the tangible gift of her love by the work of her hands in the kitchen.
That was the very same year I decided that in some small way, maybe I could honor her by taking on that tradition. I didn't have her recipes, but I did have vivid memories and a strong will to try. And so it began and has been every year since then, that at this very time of year, I put on her old apron and start baking her cookies. They will never taste quite as good as hers, but somehow (divine intervention by way of her spirit, maybe, if a grace such as that can indeed be found in a humble cookie) they come very close.
Once again, as I've started my own little family this year, I find it evermore important to carry on this tradition. It's one that gives me an overwhelming sense of peace, joy, and gratitude for my Oma.