Dusting off the Tradition of Baking

10 Dec

I’ll admit, Christmas baking has all but disappeared at my home. There seems no reason to bake for the holidays. The beloved and I escape…flee the city…go anywhere but here during the holidays.

This is sad because in my heart I know the traditions I treasure are slipping. That of baking peanut butter balls like my grandmother and placing them on a three tiered glass serving dish. My daughter doesn’t have the memory of piling up on the couch with the family, in a house barely able to contain the love, or grandchildren. She hasn’t experienced it and that makes me very sad.

We are too scattered. Too separated from family and friends, that too makes me sad. One of the most heartbreaking experiences when I moved to GA from TN was leaving my neighbor. Amy felt like the sister I never had, but the move to GA ripped us apart. This was before Skype and the time when everyone could text. I miss Amy; miss her girls who have all but grown up and gone now. Still to this day, each time I make chocolate chip cookies I think about making cookies for Amy’s daughter, Hanna.  It was just a blink ago, wasn’t it?

Then an invitation came in the mail from my GA neighbor, a cookie exchange invitation to be exact.  While some might feel burdened at the thought of making dozens of cookies, my heart leapt with the opportunity to spend time with women in the neighborhood.

We don’t do that much anymore; take time to know our neighbors.

I love my KitchenAid mixer. LOVE it.

I love my KitchenAid mixer. LOVE it.

The invitation launched me into a baking frenzy. It was time to dust off the KitchenAid. Not wanting to take chocolate chip cookies, I scoured books and determined to bake it up old school with a batch of gingerbread cookies.


Moving on, I determined to try chocolate truffles. Certain the beloved would love them, I made enough for the required cookie exchange and a couple dozen extra. I know, truffles aren’t technically cookies, neither were the peppermint brownies I settled on. When it comes to baking I figured there are no mistakes.

So I baked, and tasted, and lived through a two day sugar high that had me cleaning out my closet and doing a deep cleaning of the living room.

Last night, was the exchange. I’ll first share the cookies that are NOT mine.

These are the cookies I did NOT bake. Aren't they lovely?

These are the cookies I did NOT bake. Aren’t they lovely?

Aren’t they precious?

Miss Hall asked each of us to tell about what we brought and why we brought it. I discovered that she comes from a long line of Scandinavian bakers. Her thumbprint cookies and these precious snow people honored them. Don’t you just love the happy faces on the snow people?

My chocolate truffles, chocolate chip cookies and brownies paled in comparison.  I don’t understand why we default into comparison mode, but we do. Shaking off that negativity I embraced the reason for the exchange.  Last night was an opportunity to meet my neighbors and begin a new tradition, of exchanging cookies and the hand of friendship.

Here is a copy of my contribution. Next year, I’m bringing rum balls.

Mint brownies and traditional chocolate chip cookies.

Mint brownies and traditional chocolate chip cookies.

What are your baking traditions?

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author. Learn more about her work at



Posted by on December 10, 2012 in A Glimpse into My Life, Wrinkles and all


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5 responses to “Dusting off the Tradition of Baking

  1. veggieval

    December 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Nice post, Renea. All the goodies look lovely and I bet your mint chocolate brownies were awesome. What? No recipe?! LOL I do love the looks of the melted snowmen cookies. Pinned it!

    My baking tradition has become bread since I got a grain mill last year. I make the best English Muffins around. Haha. Holiday baking seems to have slowed in recent years due to so many people cutting back on sugar. Even grandma’s fudge seems to last entirely too long. We just have to create new, easier, more healthful traditions… like your cookie swap. *wonders if she could start a veggie swap* 🙂

    • Renea

      December 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Recipes are coming. I promise. I didn’t want the posting to be so long readers would leave. I bake a lot of bread, and rolls, at my house. With the price of chocolate and sugar through the roof, bread is a inexpensive alternative to those sugary cookies. I need to get Miss Hall’s snowmen cookie recipe. If I so, I’ll share that as well. Last night we determined to plan a “dip” swap. Everyone brings a dip and a veggie tray.

      • veggieval

        December 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm

        Oooh! Yummy idea!

  2. latebloomershow

    December 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    It’s a drag getting older, getting high cholesterol and all but stopping baking altogether. My college senior tennis player son likes chess pie, so I am determined to make him one when he is home for Christmas. Also, I found a great gluten-free bakery in Los Angeles, so I plan to purchase some goodies, trying to do the gluten-free thing, too. (the only thing I’ve mastered gluten-free is pancakes, and that took some effort) Sigh. I remember, 30 years ago, when I left D.C. for the Big Apple, my going away party was a homemade dessert party and I made all the desserts: chocolate rum balls, fresh from scratch plum tarts, chocolate cake, oh, I wish I could remember them all, but, with age, the memory goes, too! LOL Thanks for making me hungry! 🙂 – Kaye

    • Renea

      December 10, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Oh Kaye, I understand. I’ve done the GF route as well. Nobakes, made with oatmeal, work well.


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