A Christmas tradition we had growing up was baking cookies.
Not with my Mom. No - you'd never see my Mom baking in the kitchen. Ever. Period. End of story.
We'd instead bake cookies with my Dad.
Remember, my dad's mother was a professional baker - so, naturally, my Dad grew up watching Grandma in the kitchen, whipping up homemade cookies and pies and breads.
And so Dad was the cookie-maker in our house.
Every year, a few nights before Christmas, Dad would gather all of his sugar cookie supplies in the kitchen, sound out the much-anticipated words, "IT'S COOKIE NIGHT!!!" and us kids would come running, and drag the kitchen chairs over to the counter so we'd be "big" and could function as able-bodied assistants.
Cookie Night was an added incentive to be good and behaved, because an indiscretion or a lie or a tattle would revoke your cookie-baking privileges. A tragedy to be avoided at all costs, if possible.
Mixing bowls, measuring cups, spoons, spatulas, cookie sheets, oven mitts - the supplies would scatter from one end of the counter to the other - no empty bowl was left unturned - no spoon left unlicked - all interspersed with sugar, flour, butter, vanilla - and other mysterious ingredients that Dad would experiment with.
And the MOST important ingredient of all? Why, the red and green sugar sprinkles for the decorations, of course.
Nothing fancy back in those days - red & green sugar sprinkles would suffice...although every now and then, a candied "red-hot" could be thrown in as a special bonus.
Candied red-hots made excellent noses for our reindeer cookies - transforming an ordinary reindeer cookie into a much-in-demand Rudolf cookie.
Several hours later, we'd be finished...
There would be flour dusting every available inch of the kitchen, including our noses...
Sugar sprinkles would be underfoot, leaving crunches as we'd walk across the sticky floor...
The mess? Humongous.
The smell? Heavenly.
The taste? Delicious.
The memories? Priceless.