Traditions

Something about the holidays always brings out the nostalgia. We all have those traditions that make the holidays special. One of my personal favorites: making Grandma's crisp Christmas cookies.

They are part sugar cookie, part almond cookie deliciousness. And they are always covered in glaze and little sprinkles, never frosting. As a kid, the holidays meant tins of Grandma's cookies, first from her, and then from my uncle after she passed. Still to the this day, you cannot convince me that there is a better cookie (or that we should add frosting haha). 

Over the years since my Grandma left this earth, I've thought a lot about her. She passed away right before Peter and I got engaged (fun fact: he proposed the evening after her funeral; it was a little odd, but my family insisted that Grandma would have loved it). The older I get, the more I feel connected with her. 

For one thing, Grandma had 12 children. Yes, 12. No multiples, no miscarriages, just kept having kids for well over a decade. My cousin and I love to joke that fertility runs pretty strong in our genes. I only have four kids, but I can certainly relate to her in at least a small way with having a big family. 

Grandma loved to bake. Her famous family cookbook was recently digitized and I am so excited to use it. My dad told me that she made everything from scratch, even to the point that he used to hate homemade bread and swap his sandwich with kids at school for wonderbread. She didn't always know what to name her recipes so some have fun names likes Apple Padeedledunk. 

Grandma was also a writer. She gave me my first typewriter as a teenager and I used to adore using it for my poems and short stories. I still have that typewriter carefully kept away; there always something so magical about writing on it. Grandma wrote books about her ancestors, her children, and her life, including my favorite "Louder by the Dozen." They were carefully printed and lined the hallways of her house. I remember so distinctly how she encouraged me to write and always wanted to hear about what I was crafting. I can feel her around me as a create now. 

What I love most of all, Grandma and I share a love of our Savior. She was a devoted Catholic her entire life, and I knew without a doubt she loved Jesus and followed His teachings. 

I gave Julia the middle name Elizabeth after Grandma because I want her to grow up to be a strong, loving, creative woman just like her Great-Grandmother. 

Every Christmas I pull out her typed out recipe and roll out the crisp cookies, remembering her smile and the way she sat in that recliner in her living room, listening to me week after week. This year has been a struggle in many ways, but it's wonderful to take a moment and reflect on those things that matter most.