Look, I’m a good American and do my fair share of grumbling about the ridiculous excess of Christmas just like everyone else. But, also like everyone else, there a few things that I look forward to, little returning guests each December. I’ll write about a few of them over the next couple of days. And I’ll start with my favorite of them all.
Grandma’s Xmas Tree Cookies
We lost Grandma this past spring, so this is our first year without seeing her in her Christmas sweaters or receiving a card from her, and that’s sad enough. But I know everyone in the Jardin family will also be thinking, “Awww, Christmas tree cookies.”
They are little shortbread numbers, green with sprinkles, and delicious. My brother Matt and I had different philosophies about how to eat the cookies — he would gobble them up pretty soon after they arrived whereas I kept mine in a freezer bag like a dutiful squirrel, and rewarded myself one or two every week, never wanting to eat that last one.
Due to failing health, Grandma actually hadn’t been able to make her cookies for the last couple of years, but that doesn’t mean the tradition has stopped. My father’s wife, Liz, who spent so much time with her these last few years, learned to make them under Grandma’s tutelage, something I will be forever grateful for. She has totally nailed it too but — and she’s gracious so I know she won’t mind me saying this — there is that little something missing. It’s that little break in the continuity, a hiccup where just a little bit of what had always been there falls away. And now of course, with Grandma’s passing, there is the real, physical absence, an undeniable truth.
In a few years, the younger kids in the family who didn’t know Grandma Eleanor will come to welcome those cookies every year themselves, praising Grandma Liz and knowing there was something special about her, just for creating them … and they would be right.
We miss you Grandma.