“Christmas Snickers,” Dec. 22, 2020

(NOTE: I’m taking off this week for the holiday. This column is from 2016.)
What’s your favorite Christmas treat—one taste that says to you, “Merry Christmas!” Gingerbread? Eggnog? Sugar cookies? I bet it’s not fruitcake.

Treats in my childhood were simple. My mother made peach cobbler and her mother made banana pudding. But my dad’s mother—a farm wife, who cooked three meals on a wood stove most every day of her life—made my favorite dessert: Homemade biscuits left from breakfast, slathered with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, drizzled with cream and heated to bubbling. Oh my.

Sorry. I tend to go on a bit when I’m talking about food. All those tastes speak of love to me, but they don’t say “Christmas.” For that, I need a tangerine.

The year my stepfather was out of work for six months with a broken ankle, he limped home Christmas Eve with a box of tangerines, slid it under the tree and said, “Merry Christmas.”

That was our only gift that Christmas, except for a box of food and a canned ham from some good people at church.

Even now after all these years, one taste of a tangerine brings to mind my mother’s words as she fried up the ham (which my stepfather called—and refused to eat—charity.)

“Life,” she told me, “is a bank. Sometimes you put into it. Other times you take out. But you need to remember how hard it is to take, because one day, you will do the giving.”

Why do I prefer tangerines to ham? The ham was a gift from good people who meant well. Their kindness was a blessing.

But the tangerines were a gift from a man who would’ve given us the world, if he could, but had nothing else to offer.

Which gift would you prefer? I thought so. Me, too.

My husband loves snickerdoodles. He also loves the chocolate crinkles his mother, rest her soul, used to make for him for Christmas.

I’ve tried both recipes with mixed success. But I’m better at snickers than at crinkles. As it turns out, my husband prefers snickers. Or so he says. So do I.

Every Christmas, I used to bake a batch of snickerdoodles just for him. I ate them, too, but mostly, they were for him.

A few years ago, when I was recovering from a broken ankle, he decided to make the snickerdoodles himself.

He’s a great cook. We usually share cooking, except when I do something like break an ankle. I often prefer his cooking to mine, especially if I don’t have to clean up the mess. For all his culinary expertise, his baking experience has been somewhat limited to microwaving a pizza. But he was not about to let that stop him from making snickerdoodles.

“Where do I start?” he asked, rolling up his sleeves.

“You’ll need a mixer,” I said.

He raised an eyebrow.

I pointed to the cupboard. “It’s got beaters and a power cord.”

He held up a stick of butter to ask, “How much is half a cup?”

“Half a cup,” I said.

“The labels are worn off these measuring spoons. How do you know which one’s a teaspoon?”

“I’m smart,” I said. “I just guess. Try the middle one.”

Then I watched, laughing through a cloud of flour dust, as a man who would give me the world, if he could, baked up a fine batch of snickerdoodles. I wish you could’ve tasted them.

The kitchen, of course, was a disaster. No matter. Cookies are like companions. Even the best ones can be a bit messy.

He did such a fine job I put him permanently in charge of baking snickerdoodles as Christmas gifts for our grandkids and their parents.
Maybe next year I’ll make chocolate crinkles. Or not.

From our kitchen to yours, here’s wishing you your favorite taste of Christmas, shared with your favorite someone, who will always clean up the mess.


  1. Kate Sciacca says

    I tend to eat most of what I bake these days…. not a good thing for the scale or the blood pressure….when you’re used to baking for seven hungry boys and a 105 lb princess with a hollow leg… well… you get it 😂😂

    Just came back from my neighbor’s kitchen… and she sent me home with a big plate of all kinds of tasty treats – she’s good… she’s very good! Bakes like Betty Crocker and scolds her hubs when he gains five pounds 😂😂😂 I thought we’d have several kids here for Christmas but plans changed (they do that a lot these days) and there will only be five of us. I’d already ordered an e-cart full of groceries (and wine… lots of wine… because if you order at least six bottles you get 30% off!!! Bet you didn’t know that!). Anyways, told my sweet neighbor- who is going to have a very full house tomorrow… to come see ME before she heads to Raley’s for reinforcements… I’m hoping she will.

    May you have a happy, holy and joy-filled Christmas.

  2. My husband’s favorite was peanut butter balls! This will be our 2nd Christmas without him and I’m still making them! For some reason I only make them at Christmas, now I wish I’d made them more often for him! Love and best wishes for a wonderful Christmas with your family!

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