I called my mom at 10 one night with a confession. "Mom, I forgot to mention something. I said we would do a story about our traditional, marathon cookie baking day for the December issue."
Just think, I told her, this could be a good thing. "We'll have cookies in the freezer and ready to go before the holiday rush. The catch is, as far as the December issue deadline goes, it should have been done two weeks ago."
I know my mom pretty well. She responded just as I expected. "How about this weekend?"
Next, the kids. "Don't make plans this weekend. We are baking Christmas cookies," I told them. I know my kids pretty well. They responded just as I expected. "Christmas cookies! Are you crazy? It isn't even Halloween yet."
On this particular day, a day in which we should have been carving pumpkins and putting spider webs on the bushes in front of the house, we baked Christmas cookies. I got dressed, put on my Christmas sweater and went up into the attic to dig out a Christmas table cloth and the Christmas cookie cutters. The first kid out of bed said, "Mom, check the calendar, nice sweater!" And as each kid woke up and noticed me, they had a sarcastic comment to make to me, the dorky mom wearing a Christmas sweater in October.
Then Grandma arrived. She was wearing a Christmas sweatshirt-she was even wearing Christmas earrings.
Let the baking begin. We started with the two batches that required rolling, cookie cutting and decorating. They take the longest and we needed the kids to tackle the hardest parts of the day first-before they started losing interest. Kati left us first, she used the old homework excuse. Kylie left next, she had to go to her friend's choir concert. Alek was the next to ditch us, he had some dancing to do at a friend's bat mitzvah party.
Grandma said this was easier when they were little, because we could stick them in a high chair and they couldn't get away. I realized I was alone in the kitchen when I heard my mom call out, "Check the cookies in the oven." She was on the computer, printing out knitting patterns.
Sofie, my little trooper, made it to the end. Her prize was that Grandma planned ahead and the last batch of cookies were decorated with Halloween sprinkles.
We took a ton of pictures while we were baking. We even took a picture of Sofie's feet. She was barefoot and the bottom of her feet were red and green from walking on all the sprinkles that fell on floor.
We started at 11 a.m. and the kitchen was finally cleaned up around 4 p.m. All together we made five batches of Christmas cookies and one batch of Halloween cookies. We made sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, spritz cookies, pecan balls and peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses in the middle. My favorite are the shortbread, Sofie likes the sugar, Grandma likes the spritz, and even though he wasn't there, we made the pecan balls for Grandpa. Kati and Kylie like the peanut butter and chocolate combination. Alek declared, much to Grandma's dismay, that the raw dough for the sugar cookies is the best of all. He kept sneaking it into his mouth when Grandma wasn't looking.
There are four giant containers of cookies in the freezer. It is a nice thought that we now have enough cookies for the holidays, enough for gifts for people like the piano teacher, and maybe even enough for the cookie crumble at school. I bet though, the reality is the cookies will be eaten, little by little, and that come Christmas time, we will have to bake again.
I won't mind at all. The best part about a tradition is spending time together, laughing at each other, laughing with each other and most of all, spending the day doing something we enjoy, together.
Sandi Pedersen is the mom of four and the Web mistress for Chicago Parent.