I suppose it’s weird that I’ve celebrated Christmas every year of my life, even though we’re Jewish. Everyone gets a Christmas tree, too. We never thought anything of it other than an excuse to spend time with family and exchange presents. So the fact that my very Jewish grandmother makes 4,000 Christmas cookies every year for the entire family (and has for as long as I can remember) was just another one of those things that we assumed was normal. For the past few years, I’ve taken off the first Friday in December to bake with her. We make around 8 batches of her signature sugar cookies, and get green dough all over my aunt’s kitchen. My cousins and I contend that even though the batter is the same, the green cookies taste totally different from the plain batch or the ones with red food dye. It’s a hot-button issue in our family. We’ve even had blind taste tests and have all been able to identify her classic green Christmas trees.

 My mom-mom uses the same cookie press she’s had for at least 30 years. It’s almost like a caulk gun, with interchangeable shapes you put on the bottom. We like trees. My aunt, mom-mom and I always find a really good assembly-line rhythm, which makes the 6 hours we spend on our feet baking go a lot faster. Someone is in charge of stamping out the shapes, someone is in charge of decorating, and someone monitors the trays in the oven and puts the finished cookies on cooling racks. We all take turns eating the rejects.

This is my favorite family tradition, and I look forward to her green cookies every year. My mom-mom is probably my favorite person on earth. She’s so sassy. My aunt sent me the recipe, but warning, it is not for those of you on a diet. But it’s the holidays, isn’t that to be expected?

Christmas Butter Cookies (or Mom-mom’s Green Trees)

1/2 lb. softened butter
3oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. sifted flour  
Food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter until whipped.  Add cream cheese and beat until smooth.  Mix while adding sugar.  Blend egg and vanilla. Add food coloring if desired (pretty much mandatory).  Slowly add flour, with mixer on lower speed.  Use cookie press and decorate.  Bake 10 min, until bottoms are light brown.

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of cranberry juice, because milk is gross.

35 thoughts on “Cookies

  1. i love those pictures! the one of her hands is my favorite and kind of makes me want to cry (i swear i am not such a cry baby all the time! but maybe i tear up a lot). anyway it’s really beautiful and a lovely tradition. i used to have a menorah and i am not jewish because while i LOVE christmas i have issues that it dominates everything – and menorahs are really pretty.

    those cookies are looking yummy! xoxo

    1. Haha aww, well now I’m teary eyed, too! And I’m blaming it on being sleepy, haha, but I’m ALWAYS a cry-baby, fyi. Menorahs are really beautiful, aren’t they? I always loved ours. My mom lit a pair of pants on fire with ours one year, actually. And not just any pair of pants, but a pair of velvet overalls she’d gotten me that night for Hanukkah. Up in flames. That’s my favorite Hanukkah story, especially when you consider that she took them back to the Gap and got her money back on a pair of charred overalls. I love the holidays!! Haha xoxo

  2. Ha! Christine is cracking me up, crying all over everybody’s blogs! I just love this post. My mom is coming early to bake for us. I love that. I just love anything that brings families together and carries on traditions and well, cookies. Because, duh. We always have the same cookies every year, my Grandma Mercedes’ Rick Roll Cookies with Powdered Sugar Icing. Can’t wait.

    And these are some beautiful photos and beautiful memories you’re making, dear.

    1. Traditions are a magical thing, aren’t they? I just realized that I get to pass this on to my kids one day, hopefully with the same tools we use now. That cookie press is indestructible. Your cookies sound delicious, I’m assuming we’ll get pictures and a recipe when the time comes?? xo

  3. Soo cute! My mom and I bake cookies together every year, but we don’t have fun caulk-like guns to make them with! I love the tree the best, and I absolutely love that you’ve always had a tree! I was raised christian, but my fiance is jewish so I always ask him questions about what traditions we should be doing. I definitely feel the same way that christmas and hanukkah are just both lovely excuses to get together and celebrate with family! I;m so happy that I get to do both now :) I think everyone deserves to celebrate twice!

    1. Everyone should celebrate twice! More family time, more food, more presents ;) I think it worked so well for me growing up because we didn’t really have a religious aspect behind anything that we did. It was just the cultural celebrations, really. So exciting that now you get to have a blended household of two different cultures! Passover was always my favorite as a kid for some reason, haha.

      This is one of the cookie presses that we use: It’s almost as good as my mom-mom’s old one from the 70s :) xoxo

  4. this is seriously sweet (pun intended)… i love that you have a family tradition that traverses the generations… i love that you take a day off to do it because that highlights the significance of the act (not just something you’ve squeezed in around a brunch and an afternoon yoga session, or whatever!)… and i love the final outcome… they look so beautiful… even though i’m not a great baker, i do love when i see such traditions… in my family, it’s my mum & sister’s chocolate eclairs that you have to beat people off with a stick to get… in my boyfriend’s family it’s his aunty who is chief baker & she makes goody bags wrapped in tinfoil for everybody! love, love, love this… so precious!

    1. Haha, I love a good pun :) And I never thought about how taking a day off for it made it even more special! Greedy ole me just saw it as a free day off work to spend eating cookies, haha. And hanging with my mom-mom, too, obviously. Those chocolate eclairs your family makes sound so good!! Are they cream filled? Ooh, now I’m craving eclairs. So neat to hear about everyone’s traditions in their families! They make the holiday season special, in my opinion. xo

  5. What a great tradition, 4000 cookies! Wow! Amazing. So lovely to spend time with your grandma, mine is miles away but I used to spend a lot of time with her and loved it. I am going to be making cookies too, well, bit less, and some truffles too. yum.

    1. Ha, it might have been a slight exaggeration, but it’s a safe bet to say we made at least 1000. So. Many. Cookies! Truffles sound delicious, a perfect holiday treat. xoxo

  6. You should be so thankful that you came along at this stage of MomMom’s life because, as a child, it was ALL CHANNUKAH—all the time. The holiday was just a bundle of joy where I got such lovely gifts as Days of the Week underwear and a scarf. I had to go across the street to celebrate midnight services and Christmas morning.
    And, my grandmother??? I got pajamas in my mother’s size, I swear! She could sew the best flannel nightgowns on the planet, though!

    1. I’m sorry, do we get to point fingers about who bought who Days of the Week Underwear? Because if my memory serves me correctly, I’m pretty sure that was a recurring gift for me as a kid. AHEM.
      Your flannel nightgowns sound suuuper comfy, though! xo

  7. What a great tradition! I love looking at the photos from the day too. (I feel like a little fly on the wall, except I can’t hear the gossip. ;) Now that I have children, I’m realizing how very important it is to create memorable traditions for them. Having an all out baking day sounds like a great excuse to get all the girls and girl cousins together; We’ll use any excuse. ;)

    1. Oh, the gossip is always ripe, haha. I wish I had made these cookies with my mom-mom when I was a kid and not waited until just the past few years to get involved. But as a kid I was too busy eating the cookies to care about how they were made, haha. Baking days are a ton of fun! You should institute one in your own family, all the kids could have a blast decorating/eating sprinkles. xo

  8. Hey, who took the pic of you and Mommom? And, where’s that fantastic pic of you? It was fun and now we have some beautiful memories along with lots of green cookies!

    1. Belated photo credit: pic of me and mom-mom by my Favorite Aunt. :) Did you manage to get all the green dye off your counters/walls/floors? Thanks again for hosting as usual! xo

  9. hey even for me it was all channukah all the time. 8 presents from mommom and flannel nightgowns from bubba. I wish I still had some of those nightgowns. Also the trees with the round jimmies are my fav

    1. Man, I wish I’d gotten a chance to know Bubba. These nightgowns are sounding more and more awesome! We have plenty of cookies for you when you get here! I promise not to eat all of them in the interim :) xo

  10. Wonderful pictures Erin, I too love the one with Mommom’s hands. Great that you dedicated an entire blog to your obsession with those green cookies. :-) Love you and can’t wait to see you.

    1. Hahaha, I wouldn’t call it an obsession….okay, who am I kidding, it totally is. :) Miss you so much!! You’ll be here so soon. xo

  11. Aaaw Erin, you are so lucky to have such a beautiful family. I adore my grandmother but she can’t bake to save her life (she’s more of the put your feet up and watch the rugby with a beer kind of gran, which is great because I enjoy that too), but I can’t help but be a little bit envious! Also, your mom’s comments always make my day. P.S – who gets to eat all the cookies?

    1. Your grandmother sounds amazing!! My paternal grandmother wasn’t much of a baker, either; like yours, she was a put on the radio and have a gin martini kind of grandma ;) She was fabulous in her own right! We divy the cookies up amongst the whole family (everyone takes bags and bags home) and my mom-mom also gives some out to the people in her building, too. We pretty much have cookies for months :) xo

  12. Looks like Play Doh ;) What a nice tradition!
    I used to make ce cream with my grand mother, it was something we did every summer. In the winter we did classic swedish “pepparkakor” and “lussebullar”. She past away when I was 14 but it’s a nice memory that I carry with me all the time :)

    Yes, I know that you’re reading, and there was another girl who wrote on Instagram, but I was wondering if there where any others.

    1. Haha, they do totally look like Play Doh! I’d never noticed that before. I think it’s the artificial green color that does it ;)
      Those are such sweet memories you have with your grandmother. And you’re right, you get to carry those with you forever, even though she isn’t with you anymore. She’ll always be with you in memory. I’m intrigued about pepparkakor and lussebullar, though! Have to go google those :) xoxo

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