This week I decided to bake some Christmas cookies. I love love love to make cookies that need to be rolled out, because I love to use the rolling-pin that belonged to my Great Grandmother, Sito Vicky (Victoria’s namesake). I also love to decorate cookies, but I am really not that good at it. I mean I can bake like nobody’s business, but decorating? Not so much. Anyway, I decided to let the kids take the reins, and I just supervised. It was a great time. The first task was to find a recipe that did not need to be refrigerated. I hate having to wait for the dough to chill, because when I bake cookies, I want them soon. I am too impatient to chill the dough for a few hours, so I always look for a recipe that doesn’t require that step. I have used this recipe many times before and it never fails to deliver wonderful sugar cookie cut outs. Here is the recipe that I use:
- 2/3 cup butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 TBS plus 1 tsp. milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 2 cups plus 2 TBS. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
1. Blend the butter, sugar, and milk with an electric mixer on medium speed. 2. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. 3. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; mix to combine. 4. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with desired cookie cutters. 5. Arrange on ungreased baking sheets and bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes. 6. Transfer to cooking racks and allow cookies to cool completely before frosting.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- water or milk
1. Add sugar and vanilla to a mixing bowl. 2. Add water or milk by the teaspoon to reach desired consistency.
I didn’t necessarily start out planning to make cookies. It was more of a snap decision. In lieu of all the craziness that has taken place in the world over the last few days, I am holding even tighter to our little traditions. As soon as the thought to bake cookies entered my mind, I immediately got up, called the kids into the kitchen, and got to work. I cannot imagine a life where I cannot do just that…make cookies with my kids on a whim. It breaks my heart, that so many families will never be able to do that again with their precious babies. I am completely heart-sick over the happenings in Connecticut. I cannot stop thinking about all the people who lost their lives that day. Some literally lost their lives, and others figuratively lost their lives as they knew it, when they lost a child or loved one. The juxtaposition of events that occurred for me personally that day were striking. Friday was the last day of school in our district. Every year on the last day of school before Christmas break, our parent group hosts “Santa Day.” Santa and Mrs. Claus come to our elementary, and spend the day with the kids. All the children in the early elementary get to come and visit with Santa and his lovely wife. They can sit on his lap, make their Christmas wishes known, and then leave with a happy heart and a yummy candy cane. The children in the later elementary get a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus in their classrooms as they take a walking tour to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. So I literally spent all day grinning from ear to ear, watching the kids enjoy Santa, their class Christmas parties, gift exchanges, and yummy treats. I was with Ryan on the playground watching a crazy game of kickball, when I got the news. Our district has an instant alert system, and I got a call from the superintendent. In his message, he expressed his deepest sympathy to the families of Newtown, and reassured all of us that our children’s safety was top priority. I was a bit confused by the message as I had absolutely no idea what had transpired. Remember, I spent the day with Santa. As always, I relied on Dan to fill me in on the details. I wish it was a conversation that never had to occur, as it once again changed the way I viewed our world.
This is a difficult time of year for us anyway, as it is the time of year that my Mom passed away. Additionally, two weeks ago, we had to say good-bye to our Merlin, the sweetest cat to ever walk the planet. We are all still absolutely heartbroken about his passing. Given the heightened emotional environment in our house already, Dan and I made the decision not to tell our kids about this tragedy. For us the decision was easy. Friday was the last day of school in our district, so school was letting out for Christmas break by the time we were alerted to what had happened. We do not get a “newspaper” or watch the “news” so our children will not learn about it that way. I have boycotted both the newspaper and televised newscasts in my house, as I cannot stomach the way the media appears to thrive on heartbreak and tragedy. I have heard it said “if it bleeds it leads,” in relation to media coverage, and I cannot and will not give any credence to that sort of mentality. These are people for goodness sake. Their pain is real. I cannot bear to see it trivialized, or worse exploited for good ratings. Additionally, my boycott is personal. I have an extremely difficult time letting go of the bad things that I see or read about. This is exactly why I can no longer watch scary movies. Once those images are in my brain, they are there to stay. So for my own mental and emotional well-being, I cannot partake.
Further, we live in the sticks, so there is no fear that our kids will learn about the details while playing outside with neighborhood kids. Our children are not allowed to go on the internet unless Dan and I are around, and our kids do not have televisions in their rooms. Further, before Dan and I go to bed, we make sure the television is set to a kid friendly channel like ” Nickelodeon” or “The Disney Channel,” just so no terrible images are accidentally seared onto my precious babies’ psyches. I know we will have to revisit this decision in January before the kids go back to school, as I am sure they will learn about it then. It makes me sick that we as parents even have to make these types of judgement calls. All children (not just mine) deserve to live in a world that is kind, safe, and welcoming. I wish they never EVER had to be made aware that this type of evil exists in the dark hearts and souls of a few extremely disturbed individuals. Unfortunately, in instances like this, “wish” is not an action word. All the wishing in the world cannot erase the horrific events of that terrible day.
As I reflect on the last week, I am struck by how sad and bleak the world sometimes appears. I am reminded of a sentiment that I blogged about a few weeks ago in my “Chocolate Pumpkin Mini Muffins” entry. In lieu of the last week’s events, I’d like to revisit a portion of that entry as I feel, now more than ever, it is pertinent.
“… in my opinion, it is not necessary to wound others on purpose…period. I try to live my life by the following quote by the Dalai Lama: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” Exactly. It’s okay if you cannot help others, but for the love of all that’s holy, please, and I am begging here, please…don’t hurt them just because you can. It really doesn’t seem that hard. It doesn’t require a whole lot. In my opinion, it requires only kindness. Basic human civility. That’s it. If we could all think before we speak, and choose our words and deeds in the spirit of kindness, what a different place the world would be.”