12 December 10 • MAV

Once you’ve had these sugar cookies nothing else really compares. It’s the nutmeg that makes the difference.
—My Mom

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Tradition is defined as ‘something that is handed down; a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting; a continuing pattern of practices.’ These days I find tradition is something I ache for and yet much like when I was growing into a young teenager, I am also looking to plow my individual path. I am searching for my own traditions.

Truth be told there are no more Christmas Eves at Grandma and Grandpa A.’s with carol-singing and presents piled to the ceiling or Christmas Days at Grandma and Grandpa V.’s with shrimp cocktail and torrone. Instead each year is truly different. My family members (which includes dear friends) are all in the middle of trying to find new rhythms and new comforts. It’s both incredibly refreshing and, well, slightly melancholic. I suppose transition always is.

One tradition that will always be alive is simply that we will see each other around the holidays. There might not be a Christmas Eve dinner or a big Christmas Day gift exchange but we’ll share time, hugs, stories, sweets, laughs and ultimately, traditions … some old and some new. We’ll feel our way around these transitional years until at some point soon certain rituals will stick, everyone will agree and life will move ahead, at least for this generation, with some kind of pattern. I look forward to that day and in the meantime remind myself to relish the joy in the year-to-year newness and the freedom it allows.

These sugar cookies are one of our family traditions. Their presence on our sweet table goes way back and I am so happy to be sharing this special recipe with you.

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My Mom tells me, ‘I sprinkle mine with cinnamon sugar. When you were little I used to sprinkle them with red and green but now I don’t like that.’ Of course while making this batch I kept mine plain. I really do like them both ways but remember what I said about new paths? I’m always rocking the boat in this family!

My Mom’s Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
makes about 5 dozen

4 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t nutmeg
1 C butter at room temperature
1-1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1/2 C sour cream
1 t vanilla
topping: cinnamon sugar mix (optional)

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. In large bowl, with our without a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and continue to beat. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture mixing well to combine. Get your hands in there toward the end and bring the dough together. Divide into three balls and wrap in cling refrigerating for several hours or overnight.

When ready, pre-heat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheets. On a well-floured surface roll out dough one part at a time to about 1/4 inch thick (the thinner the better). Leave all of the dough that you’re not working with in the fridge; it’s best cold. Using a floured cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Using a pancake turner gently lift and place the cookies on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix (optional) and bake for 8–10 minutes. Take a peek at them and leave them in until your desired darkness. Repeat process until dough is gone.

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‘I like them thin.’ says my Mom. And you know what, I too like mine thin. Something we can agree on and perhaps a new old tradition that we will always, always share.