Deciding the two stories that most touched my heart was tough--there were so many to choose from and they were all wonderful. After much deliberation, here are the winners:
Honorable Mention goes to: DM Ryan of Massachusetts. I fell in love with her last paragraph...
"Holiday Cookies were never part of my Christmas growing up. I’m not sure why as my dad had a real sweet tooth. Mom made pies, banana breads, bread puddings using stale donuts and of course chocolate chip cookies but I don’t ever remember sugar cookies with colored crystals.
When I married I found out that cookies were big in my husband’s family. By then his mom had died so I never experienced this yearly cookie sensation but my husband expected it – especially his favorites the Spritz cookies or as he called them “trees”! Going by the name "trees" it took me a while to figure out what he meant and I bought a simple cookie gun/press to make them. The color needed to be right, the sprinkles just so and of course almond not vanilla flavoring. Yes, you could make many shapes using that gun but “trees” were the only acceptable ones.
It’s been 37 years since I started the “trees” hunt. I have gone through several cookie guns partially because my dough would be too strong to press though. Reinforcing the press with a large nail worked for a while. Then I found a better press- more expensive and apparently a better design. Every year on our now expanded cookie tray we have our “trees” and sometimes I even make a few different shapes just to even out the cookie tray- personally I like “wreaths”!
I have found that competing with a memory is difficult but if you get it right the memory becomes a family tradition. This one has. It also makes the 59 year old man become a boy again every year for a week and that is a miracle!"~DM Ryan
And the winner is Norma Wills!
"Growing up, I had a very lonely childhood. My sisters were much older than me and out of the house before I started elementary school. Both of my parents worked hard and didn't have much time to spare.
However, every year, my mom and my sisters always made time for us to get together and bake cookies. I know that there were years in which my sisters wished they were off doing other things, but they would still drop everything to come over for our annual cookie baking day.
There was always a wide variety of cookies, brownies, and other goodies that were made. Every year without fail, we would bake Scottish shortbread, Toffee Bars, Butter Tarts, and No-Bake Fudge Cookies. Plus we would make several other types that would be decided a day or two before.
The house always smelled wonderful and we would all have a great time. At the end of the day, the goodies would be divided between us and my sisters would head for home.
A few years ago, my mom had passed away at Christmas time. She had been too sick for our annual bake day. We were too busy taking care of her, that we never stopped for our sister time together. After she passed away, we started losing contact with each other. We went off to cope with things in our own way.
A few months passed without talking to my sisters and I get a call from one of them. It seems that the eldest had decided that we would continue with the annual bake day. The four of us reluctantly got together that day. At first, we just started going through the motions of mixing, chopping, and baking. Then all of a sudden we started talking about all the other bake days. And the flood gates opened. We were laughing, crying, and bonding all over again.
It has been 3 years since that day. We are now planning for our annual bake day that's coming up next month. I don't think our bond would be as strong today if we didn't have our bake day.
Last year we baked over 12 dozen types of cookies. We each had huge trays of different types to share with family and friends. It was truly wonderful."~Norma J Wills
Norma, your words touched me. I love your commitment to carrying on the family tradition of a bake day. Sincere thanks for sharing your story!
DM will receive an autographed copy of My Gift to You. Norma will also receive an autographed copy of My Gift to You as well as a $10 gift certificate to KitchenKneads, and an assortment of holiday cookie cutters from Off the Beaten Path.
Congratulations, ladies and thank you for entering!