Who can forget the excitement of Christmas morning as a child? I remember waking up before the sun rose to sneak out and see if Santa did indeed come, while my parents were still sleeping soundly in their beds. Oh, the joy of seeing presents piled under the tree! There was nothing like it.
However, when I think back to those times, it’s not the presents I remember, but the people who shared the day with us. Some of them aren’t here in person anymore, but they are alive and well in my memories. One of my grandmothers didn’t have a lot of money to buy us expensive gifts, but her cookies, pies and homemade presents were just as meaningful as anything she could have bought. My other grandmother brought us gifts galore from a variety of stories and catalogs. My brother and sister and I could not wait for her to arrive at our house with her bags and bags of presents, somewhat like Santa himself. However, both grandmothers were equally special because we knew they loved us. Whenever I think of Christmas I can still recall the happiness they brought with their presence.
Even though we have lost some people, our family continues to grow and there are new faces to be found around the tree. Fortunately, I still have both of my parents, and thanks to my brother and sister, I have nieces and nephews and their children to share the day with. I also have, thanks to my husband and his daughter, a wonderful grandson and granddaughter to add to our Christmas celebrations.
My family is my favorite and most meaningful gift all year round. Who needs presents when you’re surrounded by people who love and appreciate you? When everyone is stuffed with the food I prepared and wrapping paper litters the floor, it’s the smiles on their faces that make me joyful. I know someday when they all look back, it will be the conversation and laughter that will be remembered, not just the clothes and toys, although of course they are nice too.
Here is a cookie recipe that I make every Christmas. They look like little piles of snow when they’re done, and taste oh so delicious. Enjoy!
From the kitchen of Susan Baldani
2 egg whites*
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup semi sweet or milk chocolate morsels
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to foamy soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and chocolate morsels. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Place in oven, turn oven off and forget cookies overnight (or at least one hour).
*Tip: egg whites whip better and fuller when they have been out of the refrigerator for about a half-hour or so.