My husband’s family has a cookie recipe that has been passed through generations. The cookies are loaded with just about everything–M&M’s, peanut butter, chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces, and of course, plenty of sugar, butter and eggs. These decadent cookies are the sort you should limit to just one (okay maybe two!). Here’s the problem: the recipe for these Monster cookies (yes, real name) makes 144 cookies!
We associate a holiday with the smell of the foods we cook and the experiences we have making them. Our Monster cookies are just one of these traditions–from the kitchen full of ingredients, to the batter so thick that it takes many of us to stir. We have never figured out how to halve it and so it goes that every year we make twelve dozen Monster cookies. Perhaps your family also has traditions that have continued through the years. I’d like to suggest that holiday recipes like these could use some adjusting. After all, does Santa really need to eat cookies on Christmas Eve after he has likely enjoyed a full dinner and dessert?
Being part of a blended family, I am used to looking at our many holiday foods and figuring out ways of making them just a bit better. From latkes that are baked not fried to stockings that include many fun things other than candy, I do my best to balance out the decadence of the holidays.
My kids actually enjoy the idea of feeding Santa’s reindeer more than Santa himself. Every year, we pile jackets and boots on top of our PJ’s and step out into the cold night to shake the reindeer food in the snow. The kids look forward to spreading the concoction of oatmeal, sugar and glitter. When they wake in the morning they are further excited to find a bell left behind from Santa. Cookies averted.
For stockings, I suggest a theme such as arts and crafts, favorite characters or something inspired by a favorite book (maybe a Pinkalicious stocking?). The arts and crafts can be used to create a beautiful holiday picture and anyone with children knows that there are characters on everything so avoiding candy is easy. Loop it in to a bigger tradition by leaving a new ornament or something that children are expecting and excited about.
There are some traditions that are sacred and define your holiday. These are the ones that you embrace and enjoy. My family has gotten into the habit of freezing some of those Monster cookies right away, which is a good thing. Now we have plenty to enjoy during the holiday or to share with the neighbors …and others to warm later for a bit of Christmas all year round.