20 December 2010
Complete with its homemade tin-foil star.
I inherited my love for the Christmas tree from my mother, who would spend at least two full days perfecting its glory. This involved fully decorating it in one corner of our living room only to take everything down and start from scratch in another corner. Because she thought it would look better.
She was a lovable maniac.
It wasn't only the tree which garnered her enthusiasm. She loved all things Christmas and always came out with the big guns, despite the fact that it had to be tough as a single mother of five who worked the third shift as a nurse's aide. She made dozens of Christmas cookies not only for us but for our classmates, her co-workers, our neighbors, and just about anyone else willing to be stuffed with butter and sugar.
And I, brat that I was, oh ye of little faith, doubted her ability one year. I remember lying in my bed, about 2 a.m., worrying that my mom wouldn't be able to whip out her famous gingerbread cookies in time for me to take them to school to share with my fourth-grade class. You see, she was still at work, in the middle of her shift, and I couldn't fathom how she would get home, make cookie dough from scratch, chill the dough, roll and cut out cookies, let them cool, decorate and package them (not that I really comprehended all the steps involved) in time for my school party.
But she did. And threw in some finger sandwiches for my classmates as well.
This is the fifth Christmas since she died. I miss her every day, but even more so at Christmas. The cookies I bake —gingerbread and sugar cookie cut-outs, snowballs, black-eyed susans, rugelach, pecan tassies, bittersweet brownies — I bake for her. It doesn't matter that our household of two couldn't possibly down all these cookies without going into cardiac arrest. My mother taught me that everyone loves a cookie, so we share.