Each year my family decorates Christmas cookies. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, not the way we decorate them.
We usually bake 4 dozen cookies and the colors we create are pretty wild. Paul’s the best at making black icing.
It’s a fierce competition and everyone is a bit nervous until the decorating begins. A lot is at stake with this because there are categories and the winning cookie maker gets bragging rights.
Here are the categories so far:
Best in show
Best cookie repair
Best back story
Best entry by a diabetic
Best transportation runner-up
Cookie cutters are crucial for determining the winning cookie. We must have 50 or so accumulated throughout the years. We have traditional cutters: Christmas trees, stars, snowflakes, candy canes and Santas. Less traditional ornaments include ninja warriors, Star Trek, basset hound, poodle, bicycle, cars, bus, rocket ship, crown, lobster, bunny, Easter egg, guitar, hammer and kitty cat.
We always bring food and drink to go along with the party. We try to have plenty of protein because it’s hard to not the cookies after the icing has set. Protein and alcohol. I think we need to bring more protein and nosh throughout. By the time we were done with cookies, we were starving. The only thing on the table – cookies.
We started the cookie baking tradition back at the house on Joan Street. Actually, it started long before that. My ex’s mother used to make Christmas cookies and we’d be given a plate each year to take home. The icing she made would hurt your teeth. It would also stain your teeth. Tongues and lips would turn Fiesta Ford blue or angry tumor red. She didn’t use icing per se, it was more frosting slapped on there and festooned with sprinkles. My ex and the kids eagerly awaited each year’s plate of sugar.
She also made popcorn balls and they were legendary. Everyone (but me) loved them. Sometimes she’d get distracted and wouldn’t pay attention to the candy thermometer and the candy would pass through the hard-ball stage and into tooth-break stage. You could gnaw on one of those popcorn balls for hours. I couldn’t stand them. With each bite I could calculate in dollar and cents the dental work that would be needed after the holiday season. You could break a tooth on those balls. My feelings: never liked popcorn balls, never will.
Anyway, everyone still lived there on Joan Street and my ex decided he wanted Christmas cookies but didn’t want to have to go to his mom’s to get them (after a while, nobody wanted to go to Mom’s for much of anything). He bought some refrigerated cookie dough and cut out the cookie patterns that came with the dough. One pattern was a candle with a flame and the other was an angel with wings. The cookies looked like a penis complete with balls and the “angel” looked like a butt. Needless to say the kids had a great time decorating them and a tradition was born.
The family dynamic has changed and grown but the tradition remains the same. The first year Jason saw the family decorating cookies was at Cove Creek. He stood back and watched, slightly appalled. By that time we were making cookies from scratch and using a powder-sugar icing with less intense colors and flavors. I think that first time he decorated one cookie.
As each person has come into the family fold, the tables have gotten bigger to handle more cookies, colors, icings, tools, sprinkles and ideas.
Last year, after doing this for so long, we decided to have categories and a contest. We started with the categories “Best of show,” “Most offensive,” and “Most original.” As you can tell from the list above, it’s grown a bit.
We have odd categories because we’re odd.
The newcomer category is for new participants that bring a different viewpoint to our collective. Emma, at age 2, figured out how to take the top off the sprinkle jar so you can unload a rainbow on a cookie. Her discovery made everyone stop. Nobody had thought to take the top off the sprinkler jar.
Best repair is awesome. We get quite a few broken cookies and they’re the tools for the most unique decorations. The lobsters provided lots of broken cookies because the lobster arms are a little thin broke easily.
Most offensive is pretty self explanatory. We’ve had some pretty bad ones which I won’t explain here. Just suffice to say most of the time it includes body parts.
Best transportation is used because we have quite a few cars, trucks and bicycle cookie cutters. We have one set of cutters that came complete with wheels to set your decoration on and wheel it around. My favorite this year was the Bacon Mobile.
We gave Jill her own category – Best entry by a diabetic. If anyone develops diabetes she’ll have some competition.
Ugliest cookie usually has plenty of offerings. Sometimes the only thing to do with a cookie is make it ugly. Even ugly cookies are still really good to eat.
This year’s winners:
Best in show – Kate – Wheelchair Pete
Best repair – Kate – Wheelchair Pete
Best newcomer – Emma – Sprinkle Moose and for taking top off the the sprinkles so you can pour them out
Best imagination – Jen – Shark attack
Most offensive – Mumford – Car-wreck bunny
Heaviest cookie – Kate – Donald Trump
Best back story – Mariah – Guitar killer
Best transportation – Matt – Police car (on wheels)
Best entry by a diabetic – Jill – Pancreas cookie
Ugliest cookie – 3-way tie: Jill: Cataract Charlie, Paul: Paul Pollock, Mariah: Wrecked-it cookie
Best transportation runner-up – Jill – Bacon mobile (on wheels)
Christmas cookie decorating is always a good time. There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of teasing and memory sharing. It’s the best thing about the holidays, for me, even better than Christmas Day.