Let's see now … what do I want???

The author, Elizabeth Caswell, sits in Santa’s lap in this photo made when she was a child.

What would Christmas be without a delicious variety of cookies, especially a plateful for Santa with a glass of milk?

This was a tradition that I didn’t grow up with, but it is one that I began early on with my kids. I also missed out on having Christmas stockings. That’s another one that I made sure my kids grew up with. We didn’t have a fireplace or mantle, but our stockings were hung on the wall with care. I remember my son once commented how much fun it was to get to the end of opening gifts, and still have the fun of seeing what was in your stocking. Santa really knew how to stuff a stocking in our house. Many times we had overflow stockings for those items that just wouldn’t fit! Ha!

I think one of my first memories of Christmas cookies (other than at school parties) was when I was around twelve. I was at my Aunt Dot’s in Greeneville where I spent a lot of time when I wasn’t in school. A neighbor of hers gave me a little shoe box of cookies she had made with a cookie press. I was thoroughly intrigues. I loved the cookies and the kind thought. I eventually bought myself cookie press and learned to make those beautiful cookies myself. This was while I was still in high school.

This tradition of making cookies and candy for neighbors and friends is one I would eventually begin myself in the early 1970s. I would begin right after Thanksgiving on my baking and candymaking. I would put my goodies in tins and store them in our cool basement until closer till Christmas. I thought those cookies were safe, but in recent years my son has told me that he snuck down there and tasted my goodies. I’m sure my daughter did too. Ha! I would fill tins for neighbors, friends and family members. It was a tradition which I loved, and one that I miss.

My son would keep me on schedule by making a list and putting it on the refrigerator. He would check the goodies off the list as I completed them. He was constantly letting me know if I was on schedule or behind schedule and needing to speed up the process.

I have always loved Christmas along with its magic and traditions. As much fun as all of that is, the most important tradition is remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season. If you only pass one Christmas tradition down to your children, this is the one. Without Christ, Christmas is just another day.

Today I’m sharing three of my favorite Christmas cookies with you. The first one has been in our family for almost sixty years. It was given to my mother by Bernice Brooks when they were both working at the White Store in the 1960s. It’s a simple cookie called Angel Crisps, but it’s one which I still love. What makes this cookie special is the cream of tartar. It puffs the cookies up and gives them a unique flavor.

The second one was given to me by one of my neighbors, Helen Everhart, many years ago after I first moved to Persia. Again, although I’ve had the recipe for many years, I still love them. I love dates in about anything.

The third recipe is called Ranger Cookies and was given to me by Linda Marshall when I worked with her at Celina Insurance in the early 80s. Again, it’s a simple, but good recipe. Linda was always improvising her own recipes, and I have a good number of them that I still enjoy today.

In addition to the recipes, I’m also sharing a photo of Santa and me that was taken at Miller’s Department Store in Knoxville circa 1955. I’m sure Santa has asked me what I want for Christmas, and I’m sure giving a lot of thought!

As always, enjoy! Please remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!!

Angel Crisps

½ cup shortening

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Colored sugar

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients gradually. Dip fingers in flour and roll dough into balls. Dip balls in water then colored sugar and turn upside down on ungreased cookie sheet Bake about 10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Date Cookies

1 cup shortening

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs-well beaten

3 ½ cups sifted plain flour

5 tablespoons milk

2 cups dates-chopped

3/4 cup nuts-chopped (Helen said she always used more than the recipe called for)

Combine shortening, salt, and vanilla and blend; add sugar gradually and cream well. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Sift flour and soda and add to creamed mixture, alternately with milk, mixing thoroughly. Add dates and nuts and blend well. Drop from teaspoon onto baking sheets that have been greased. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 14 minutes, or until done. Makes 6 dozen.

Ranger Cookies

1 cup shortening

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups cornflakes-crushed

1 cup coconut

2 cups oatmeal

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. Make into round balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.