Yes, the recipes are the major component of our annual Holiday Cookie Contest.
But we also appreciate the stories behind each recipe. Here are some tales, culled from the 300-plus entries in our 2013 competition, that captured our attention.
“For me, these recipes are home. I sat in my mom’s kitchen last night typing up this recipe, asking her to interpret parts where old spills and stains had made it too hard to read. She told me how these were the first cookies her mom made each Christmas season. How the flavor reminded her of her own mom’s kitchen.” -- Elisabeth Johnson of St. Paul
“I knew they were a hit when my mother-in-law brought back the empty Ziploc bag and asked for a refill." -- Kim Carroll of Hastings
“Everything is in sync when I’m in a kitchen.” -- Chuck Minni of Farmington
“It is not Christmas unless we make these cookies.” -- Mary Ann Kjos
“The attached is a family favorite. It is scrawled on a recipe card. Is it from a friend? The paper or a magazine? Its origin is unknown.” -- Roberta Swanson of Minneapolis
“When my mom would make these cookies, it kicked off the Christmas season. The smell and taste of these sugar cookies will always and forever remind me of the excitement of Christmas as a child! As a mother, I hope I am making the same memories for my children as I kick off the holiday season every year.” -- Julie Millikan
“Although I am only 13 years old, I feel like I am very experienced. Ever since I was little I would help my mother bake cookies and desserts. Now that I am older I bake things of my own. Someday I might even want to set up my own bakery and sell my baked goods. It will take a lot of work but with strong will and perseverance I know I can do it.” -- Holly Anderson of Farmington
“I’m not sure where I found this recipe. The card that the recipe is written on is quite worn. However, our family of four children, their spouses and 15 grandchildren prefer this cookie over many of the other cookie recipes that I make. Just this past week a teenager from the church I attend asked me to make a batch for the young people’s get together they were having, after the Friday night football game.” -- Ruth Nystrom of Worthington, Minn.
“One year I ran out of time to make them for Christmas Eve and they were crushed. I’ll never forget the looks of disappointment on their faces. I now make sure that I take the time to make these cookies so I can give them this little Christmas treat that they so look forward to.” -- Rita Strafelda of Cottage Grove
“I didn’t have a grandmother who taught me baking and spent time with me to build memories in the kitchen. My baking skills are self-taught and through perseverance I have reaped the fruits of my labors.” -- Libby Bourgeois of Elk River
“My paternal grandmother was a “champion of cookies” in my family growing up. Each year our family gift was a turkey roaster filled with various holiday cookies that she would bake. The roaster was tied with scraps of cloth to keep it shut. I aspired as a young wife and mother to bake as well as she did. I don’t use my turkey roaster, but all year long, I save up Kemp’s ice cream pails to use to put my cookies in to give to family and friends.” -- Kristine Runck of New Ulm, Minn.
“My mom made these every Christmas . . . a nice variation from all those sugar cookies.” -- Kathy Papousek of Robbinsdale
“I challenge you to take time out of your busy schedules and enjoy the simple things in life. Get off the couch and put away the electronic devices. I can guarantee that you won’t have any regrets.” -- Patsy Athman of Pierz, Minn.
“As a young bride, I loved visiting my mother-in-law at Christmas and peeking into those vintage tins to discover beautiful cookies filled with rich flavors. Our family recently packed up her home in preparation for her next stage in life. Mom has Alzheimer’s now, so her home is no longer filled with the fragrances of her baking. Looking through her kitchen items, I found her index card notebook filled with her favorite recipes. How I remember consulting these handwritten notes, so precious now, because Mom no longer remembers these special recipes.” -- Linda Hansen of Albertville, Minn.
“My mom taught me many things which I am so thankful for and baking is one of them.” -- Liz McPherson of Apple Valley
“I love baking Christmas cookies, boxing them in tins and delivering them. It gives me an opportunity in an otherwise hectic life to connect with people who are important to me.” -- Jeanine Clapsaddle
“Every year I come up with a new holiday cookie to try. I love the adventure of trying something new.” -- Candace Freeman of Melrose, Minn.
“The role these cookies play in my holiday baking is they are a stalwart of my annual cookie baking open house. It’s an open house so guests can drop in or out and do as much baking as they want or just sit around and watch the rest of us; those who are there at the end get to take home a plate or two with all the varieties. I like this better than a cookie exchange because a big part of the fun is just hanging out together baking.” -- Margaret Lund
“Thirty years ago, the love of my life wasn’t the man I married . . . it was his mother. She was the warmest and kindest human being I have ever met. Carol was a down-to-earth cook with ancestors from Germany and Holland and she had recipes galore. One of my all-time-favorite recipes from Carol is ‘German Butter Cookies,’ a simple, elegant and delicious cookie that everyone loves. Enjoy.” -- Jeryl Mitchell of Rochester, Minn.
“Being Jewish we didn’t celebrate Christmas but my mother I loved bonding over Christmas cookie baking. My mother is in her tenth decade and this year we will continue ‘our’ Christmas tradition . . .I can’t wait.” -- Stephanie Wolkin of White Bear Lake