This weekend I’m going to make some home made drop cookies to take in to the office and to send out to my G’ma. So far I am all about Snickerdoodles (Oooo, shiny, pretty, happy) and oatmeal butterscotch chip cookies (tasty!) but I want to make a couple more kinds too. I just haven’t decided what they will be. I still have 7 pounds of chocolate chips left from the last time I did this so I guess they too are on my list but I still cant find a good fourth to complement my arrangement. Peanut butter? Molasses? Sugar? Hmmmm, the debate rages on.
Which brings me to the tradition of frosted sugar cookies. My dad always used to make 6, give or take, batches of sugar cookie dough some time in the early teens of December. This was the first step in preparation for the Great Cookie Frosting Party in which the three neighborhood families and their kids would come over and decorate cookies (if they were kids) or just hang and do grownup stuff (if they were grownups). Day one always started with the Making of the Dough which, quite frankly, I have little to no recollection of any of the years we did this. Who likes making dough anyway? I much prefer eating it which may explain why I probably wasn’t allowed to help much in stage one.
The next stage though, was the cutting and baking of the cookies. This was almost as much fun as decorating them and maybe just a little bit more special because it was just my dad, my sis and me. We would go through trays of one kind of shape, be it snow men, Santas, reindeer, ghosts (you know- past, present and future), churches, ginger dudes, candy canes, or what have you and it became a game to see how many of one shape we could get out of a single rolling of dough without compromising a head or limb. Then, the scraps would be gathered, rolled and the process would start over until there was only enough dough to squash into the cookie cutter and make a “schmedly” cookie. We always got to eat the schmedlies because they were ugly. We also got to eat any broken cookies (honest dad, the arm fell right off! Oops, there goes another arm too) and dough scraps that we deemed “eatable” and that dad did not catch us filching (but dad, it was going to fall on the floor! No really!). The sheets would be baked and the whole house would smell great for the entire next day. Mmmmm.
Among the myriads of different shapes, my dad always used to do one hand cookie each for my sis and I. We’d ask him sporadically thought the evening if we could do hand cookies now (not now) and then in the waning hours of baking he would consent and roll the dough out for our own special cookies. My sis and I would place our hands on the dough (but not too hard because then it would be melty and oozy and burn) and my dad would cut the outline of them and pop them onto a sheet. We then got to watch our cookie hands slowly brown until they were ready to come out. Sometimes we ate them as soon as they were cool enough to stay intact when we picked them up, sometimes we savored each digit for hours or even a day until the hand was gone. I think cookies hands tasted the best of all the cookies we made.
The last part was the party itself. This is where mumses made her debut on the party scene. She was the Queen of Frosting. I still cant make frosting like she can nor as easily. She would get out the butter, milk and powdered sugar and bippity bam-frosting! Then, of course, she would add the coloring and the party was officially open for business. While the parents did whatever the parents did, us kids attacked the plates of cookies, picked our favorite shape, staked a spot out on the wax paper covered table and began designing. We were artists! We not only frosted the cookie, but the table, the floor, the dog and each other. There has never been so many different colored jimmies, non-parelles, cinnamon bits, and what have you gathered in once place at the same time. Well maybe in the store but on the cookie party day you could open any and all of the bottles and decorate your cookie with wild abandon. Or the table if you weren’t so coordinated. Or the floor…
The cookies would get uglier and uglier until the parents decided that the pile of gray icing and heaps of decorating stuff on Santa was a sign of boredom and not budding artistic genius and the party would wind down. They would all leave with their trays of cookies and the house once again would belong to just my family. And the frosting encrusted table that had survived another onslaught of cookie madness.