December 22, 2017

Readers share their favorite Christmas memories

Like birth of our Savior, grandmother’s cookie recipe lives on through generations

Karen Gerhart

The taste of my grandmother’s homemade oatmeal cookies always meant Christmas.

My grandmother was a hard-working, petite German-American. She could easily bake a batch of her signature holiday cookies along with an entire feast for her family of four kids and 12 grandchildren in her small kitchen.

Those oatmeal cookies were quite frugal. The cookies called for simple ingredients such as flour, cinnamon and raisins. Perhaps it was the shape of them that was most unique. There was no congruence with shape and size. Teaspoons full of dough would be plopped on the cookie sheet, placed in the oven, and sprinkled with a light coating of sugar.

The years would pass, and my mom and aunts would soon take over the cooking and baking for holidays as my grandmother aged. I distinctly remember several years of dropping my grandmother off in her dark, quiet home on Christmas night after a day full of festivities, family, food and cookies.

How quiet her house was on Christmas night. I can still see her small town’s corner Christmas decoration shining light through her windows. I’d see the image of her standing in her kitchen as we’d leave on all those quiet Christmas nights. It made me sad as a child. It still makes me sad.

My mom now bakes her own signature cookie every year—a secret recipe that she has taught me and my own two young sons. However, every year my mom continues to pay tribute to her own mother by baking my grandmother’s oatmeal cookies as well.  I’ve filed both these recipes away.

Recipes and cookies are like family heirlooms; they bond a family together through generations as we cling to the past and to the memories of those we love. It’s often through these recipes that we can still feel a sense of closeness with our loved ones who have passed—if only for an instant.

With each Christmas that passes, it’s clear that it is not the ingredients or recipe that made my grandmother’s oatmeal cookies one-of-a-kind; it’s the love and the memory associated with those cookies and all those Christmases spent with my grandmother.

And, each Christmas as I close my eyes to savor this simple oatmeal cookie, I am taken back to my childhood and to my grandmother sitting quietly in a room full of family as we celebrated the birth of our Savior. 

(Karen Gerhart is a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield.)

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