Dec. 14, 2016
It happens pretty much the same every year. On Christmas Day I’ll carry presents into my dad’s house, drop them by the tree, give quick hugs and make a beeline for the cookie tray. It doesn’t matter what time it is or if I’ve already eaten. Christmas cookies are tradition and I simply can’t resist them. Chocolate crinkles, coconut butterballs, holly wreaths, cutouts, almond trees, peanut kisses – the list goes on. I’m not just talking a few cookies on a plate – I’m talking a ridiculous amount of cookies.
My incredible dad, who is in his 80s, makes about 20 different kinds of cookies every year. He makes up beautiful boxes and gives them out to all sorts of people in his neighborhood and at his church. Luckily, he saves plenty for me. (Well, not just for me, but I will push my sisters out of the way to get to them.) Sure, they taste delicious, but it’s more than that. It’s the pure love and sentimental tradition that are baked in each one that really makes them special.
I simply cannot remember a time when these cookies weren’t a part of my holidays. My lovely and generous grandma always had just as many different kinds on a platter. My amazing and kind mom baked and baked around the holidays so we would have our own. The recipes were handed down and new ones were added. When my mom faced health challenges, my dad stepped in to carry on. I miss my grandma and mom a lot during the holidays, but my dad has made sure that our traditions continue.
Years ago, when my mom was still with us, she and my dad made personalized recipe books for me and my sisters filled with not just cookie recipes, but all the family meals we grew up with. It’s one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received. While I don’t make 20 different kinds of cookies, I often pull that cookbook out, make something that reminds me of my childhood and remember the two women who not only fed me, but also made me who I am today. Every single one of those recipes is sprinkled with love, tradition, history and memories. What went into those are part of what I’m made of.
I’m also made of all the ingredients that make a Spartan a Spartan. We’re incredibly diverse — certainly not cookie-cutter — but there are common things found in all Spartans. Check out the adorable video, featuring gingerbread Spartans, in this year’s 2016 Holiday Greeting, and celebrate that dash of something special that makes Spartans a force for good.
I probably need to send my dad the MSU Bakers’ recipe since he hasn’t made gingerbread before. Maybe we can add it to our book or perhaps I can even make them. Because, of course, we need one more flavor on the plate. I will try my best not to taste all 20 kinds at one setting, but that’s hard at the holidays.
Elizabeth Hanna is an expert on holiday temptations. She’s a nurse practitioner in the College of Nursing and has some great advice on how to enjoy the traditions wisely. Check out her FACULTY VOICE: Holiday weight maintenance, to find 10 tips to get you through the season healthier.
If your family is like mine, the platters that the cookies are on carry as many memories as the recipes. Jeff Painter, a doctoral anthropology student, is an expert on the history of the function of ceramic vessels in the past. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Aren’t bowls just bowls? to learn about the plates, bowls and cups from the 1860s discovered on campus during archeological digs. I think the tea plates probably held the cookies, but certainly not 20 different kinds.
There are as many flavors of Spartans as you can imagine. But all Spartans have boldness, smarts, passion, determination, collaborative spirit and kindness sprinkled in the mix. With more than a half a million Spartans making this world a better place, you can’t find a better recipe for success. Spartans Will.