By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
More than just desserts: Holiday cookies a tradition
Holiday cookies are a much-loved family tradition. - photo by Jennifer Lambert
Both my earliest and most recent memories are of being in the kitchen with my family making cookies for the holidays. As a young girl, I'd watch with wonder as my mom rolled out the dough and pressed each cookie cutter into it. I'd wait with baited breath for the cookies to cool after baking so that I could help decorate them. Putting the sprinkles on was my job, and I took it seriously.

As I grew older, my younger sisters and I would join in the baking fun, helping my mom mix the dough and roll it out. I wasn't very good at that part, nor were my sisters, but we never heard a word of complaint when the cookies were so thick that they came out of the oven doughy, or so thin that they were burnt to a crisp. With time, we got better.

Every holiday in our family called for cut-out cookies. Christmas, of course, was our biggest holiday for cookie making since we gave our neighbors and friends a plate of cookies every year. It became expected, and neighbors would call or come over if Christmas was getting closer and they still didn't have a plate of cookies. But Christmas just yielded the largest amount of cookies. Valentine's Day was a close second, with the other holidays all tied for third.

Since cut-out cookies were made for every occasion in our family, the hunt for appropriate cookie cutters was always on. On a family trip to Sant Fe, New Mexico, mom found a cookie cutter of a Spanish-style church with a cross on top. She had dad fashion the cross into spires to look like an LDS temple.

As our family became older, everyone became involved when it came to cookie time - even my dad. He brought his technical skills to the table, making a frame used for rolling the dough. Getting the dough even was a problem, you see, but with dad's invention of a cookie template each cookie was uniform in height. After my mom's last visit to my house, I found that yellow-painted wood cookie frame nestled between my cookie sheets and cutting boards. My heart melted knowing that my mom was passing the torch, so to speak, on to me.

Every memorable moment in my life has cut-out cookies attached to it - my husband and I made cut-out cookies for our wedding reception because it was a tradition my family was tied so closely to.

As I now have a family of my own, I've kept up with making cookies. My little ones love it and I have even found them making their own version of cut-out cookies and putting them in their play kitchen oven to bake. I couldn't be upset when I found the mess a week later because it was just so innocent and sweet of them.

Meg Cox, the author of The Book of New Family Traditions, says that family tradition is any activity you purposefully repeat together as a family that includes heightened attentiveness and something extra that lifts it above the ordinary ruts. For my family, making cookies does just that.

Cut-Out Cookies:

1 cup butter

1 cup margarine

2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons whipping cream

4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon almond extract

6 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together. In a small bowl mix eggs, whipping cream, and extracts. Add the mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until combined. Sift the baking powder and flour together. Add the flour to the creamed mixture and mix until blended and the dough comes away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Roll and cut out. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet @ 325 F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.


2 cups powdered sugar

4 teaspoons milk

4 teaspoon light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Stir the powdered sugar and milk together until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If it's too thick, add more corn syrup. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar.