My mom learned to decorate cakes in a Wilton class decades ago. She spent much of our childhood using this skill to provide beautiful and creative treats for family and friends. One Christmas, she baked stocking cakes for every family in our neighborhood. They were amazing creations. She made cakes for birthday parties for young and old alike. For years when she began a project, I assumed my position. I was the expert icing mixer. I could whip up a batch of buttercream and swirl in the color like a boss.
One of the amazing traditions that came out of this particular set of skills was our Christmas cookie tree. For many years, we baked sugar cookies and then spent hours together decorating them. We then wrapped them in clear plastic wrap, tied them up in bows, and hung on the Christmas tree. When friends stopped by, they could choose their own cookie from the tree to take and eat. This has always been one of my favorite traditions, it has all the elements closest to my heart… cookies, frosting, family, sharing, and Christmas.
This memory also, however, provides a bit of a challenge. You see, I’ve never been able to get the hang of cake decorating… no seriously, its an issue.
When we would decorate cookies as a family, Dad handled the Santa cookies, Mom handled the Angel cookies, Kristi took on the bells and they were all beautiful specimens of color and creativity. I was relegated to the star cookies. I gave up on the fancy tips and just slapped the colored icing on with a knife. Sprinkles and colored sugar were my decorations. It was an annual embarrassment. No matter how hard I tried, my attempts at decorating would end in frustration.
Fast forward a couple decades and I decided to take on this tradition with my children. Let’s be clear, we enjoyed the cookie tree for years at the Boucher home, but there was very little creativity and beauty in our creations. We did it assembly line style. I found the most amazing recipe for sugar cookies and I made one shape… circles (like Christmas tree ornaments). We would then frost with white buttercream and sprinkles. The kids loved it, I loved it, friends who stopped by loved it.
But if I’m honest, the frustration around the cookie decorating has never really gone away. I have mastered many of the culinary and domestic arts over the years. Why can I not handle a simple cookie? As is often the case for me, I can’t seem to let it go. We haven’t had a cookie tree in a few years, but for the past five, I’ve determined to make a beautifully decorated Christmas cookie for each of my staff. I bought new shapes, took out the tips and bags, and reminded myself why I don’t do this yet again…
Tomorrow, we will gather as a family to decorate our tree, bake the cookies, and watch Christmas movies. I will again take out the tips and bags to try my hand at decorating. Maybe this year…