The pans rested in the dishwasher, the last candy cane was tied on, and the packages were ready to be delivered.
Each Christmas, Jonathan and I make cookies and give them to his teachers. It's a tradition my mother started when I was a child.
During the holiday season, Mama's oven was never idle. Plates of baked goods, housed in festive cellophane bags and decorated with bows, lined her kitchen counters. Scents of cinnamon, cloves, and other holiday spices mingled with the smell of baking cookies, transforming Mama's country kitchen into a cookery even Mrs. Claus would be proud of.
"Why Mama?" I asked one year. "What's the point in doing this? I mean, there's always tons of stuff I have to wash and put away, sweep up the flour..."
Mama dropped her spoon into a bowl of cookie dough, braced her hands against the counter top, and stared at the ceiling.
My entire body felt feverish, and a chorus line of reindeer tap-danced in my stomach as I realized, once again, my teen-aged attitude had gotten me into trouble.
Mama exhaled deeply a few times, then faced me and smiled. Though I knew there would be no discipline issued (I probably needed it), I still couldn't bear the look of disappointment in her eyes.
"Christmas is a time for giving," she said. "When people receive unexpected gifts, they feel loved and appreciated, and that, my child, is why I do this."
I never questioned my mother's intentions in regards to Christmas and giving, again.
Now my tears burned my eyes, and my heart shattered into a million pieces as I watched Jonathan load the battered Christmas sack for the last time--this year he graduates. Oh sure, his younger brother Joseph will deliver cookies for a few more years, but he's not as interested in the gift-giving as his brother was.
This year will be a series of lasts for us (prom, high school football game, and military ball), and I couldn't help but think it would be the last year for our Christmas tradition.
Jonathan grunted as he lifted the weighted bag off the table. "You might wanna write that cookie recipe down," he said, walking toward the door.
Jonathan frowned and sighed. It was apparent he thought I was having a dumb-as-a-stump moment.
"So I can do this with our kids."
The tradition will live on.
What are some of your most cherished traditions?
You still have time to enter the DWB Publishing's Christmas contest. They're giving away a library of books to the winner. See my 12/13/2011 post for more details.