Food gives comfort and shared with others it brings joy.
There are recipes I make only in the month of December because they belong exclusively to Christmas. You too?
Perusing these collected possibilities brings joy as I remember the friend or family member who introduced the cookies or soup or casserole to our family. It’s an invisible thread keeping us tied together over years and miles and realms.
Here are some of my favorite recipes and the stories behind them. Starting with cookies because nothing says Christmas flavors like sugary confections.
Christmas Butter Cookies
As I grew up, it couldn’t be Christmas without a plate full of these sparkling red and green shapes. My mother made the batter and patiently helped me and my brothers cut out angels and bells and Santas. After they baked, we sprinkled colored sugars on the still-warm-from-the-oven cookies.
I’m sure we made a mess and I imagine she wasn’t always patient, but my memory tells me she was and that she loved this tradition as much as we did. I don’t know if the recipe was one she discovered in a cookbook or if someone gave it to her. Our family lived in a small neighborhood full of other young families who shared cookouts in the summer, backyard birthday parties, holiday gatherings, and recipes. Names I remember from those years are on some of the cards in my mom’s bulging yellow recipe box.
These treats were introduced into my world during my first year out of college when I lived in South Carolina. Like tiny pecan pies, only better in my view, they were among a wide display of treats at a Christmas party I attended that year. It’s possible that my new friend Jane Alexander brought them. Somehow they seem connected to her in my memory, but I’ll let her verify since she and I remain friends. And that is another amazing story for another time.
Every year when I make these I remember that year of discovering a new place, South Carolina, of watching God speak through me, and knowing our work with students mattered for eternity.
Because we can’t live on sweets and families still have to eat three meals a day all month long, here is a yummy meatball recipe my family loves. It is easily doubled and will cover two meals.
This, too, came from my mom, though I don’t know the original source. Last year when I was with her for several days and we were talking recipes, for some reason she called these “Swedish meatballs.” It was new information but she did marry a Scandinavian man so perhaps these came from one of her in-laws. Warm, filling, and healthy, these meatballs always say “It’s good to be home” when it’s cold outside.
Southwest Egg Casserole
Last is a breakfast casserole that is a recent addition to my collection from a friend I’ve known since college. Carolyn and I lived in the same house for a year before she married her beau Bill. When Dennis and I moved to Little Rock decades ago, Bill and Carolyn were already living here and we reconnected as we started Fellowship Bible Church together and spent time together with our families since several of our kids were the same age.
Southwest Egg Casserole has become a staple at our family gatherings at Thanksgiving every year because it feeds a multitude of mouths! It’s an easy make-ahead-with-no-work-the-next-morning recipe that I love because it’s yummy and I’m still not a morning person!
There are more of my recipes for you to try in our downloads file if you want to browse around. Because it’s very hard to make plans with infections increasing, I really don’t yet know what I’ll be baking and cooking to share this year. But we are talking about gathering with a few of our kids so a road trip may be in our future. And in the back of Dennis’s pickup truck will be a couple of coolers with ingredients or already-assembled dishes … including some of these.
We still can’t really celebrate Christmas without them.
Merry Christmas to all of you, my friends, with this little gift of shared recipes.
May the food of this season bring you comfort and a taste of joy!