I ate the last Christmas cookie yesterday.
One lonely Russian Teacake left in the bottom of the cookie box on a bed of crumpled waxed paper and surrounded by puffs of escaped powdered sugar. As always, it was just a spot too large for one bite, but biting it in half meant a shower of snowy sugar on my face, on my hands, on the floor. I risked the single-bite approach, and I wasn't sorry. The cookie was every bit as good as the first one of the season, buttery, flavored with vanilla and studded with Texas pecan chips.
I had to eat it, you see. Christmas, the season, ended yesterday. Today, we enter the season of Epiphany. The season of revelations, of understanding, of comprehension. Just 12 days of the miracle of Christmas, but we get weeks and weeks of Epiphany to think about it.
If Epiphany reveals one thing to me, it's the fact that Christmas cookies are essential to the season. Not just the Russian Teacakes, either. The love affair dates back to the mid 60's when my grandmothers would mail tempting parcels, brown paper wrapped, string tied, and filled with home made Christmas cookies and candies. Fudge. Divinity. Frosted sugar cookies. Rock hard Pfeffernusse.
My mother added to the mix with Date Pinwheels and pressed Spritz (green trees required, dogs and camels required, snowflakes and flowers acceptable as long as the dough held out). Some years there were new experiments, some years we relied on old favorites. Christmas dinner was not complete without a "cookie plate"; it was the only dessert we planned, it was the only dessert we needed.
My grandmothers' cookie baking days are over, and we all think a bit more about the fat and calories and fiber (or lack thereof) while planning that cookie plate, but there's no way we could give it up entirely. My 17 year old son has emerged as the fudge-making champion of the next generation. The one time we tried to make Grandma's Divinity, the cat jumped on the table and stepped in the pan. I'll accept that as a sign that we were not meant to make Divinity here. We have added and subtracted favorites through the years as time and inspiration have dictated.
It's just not Christmas here without Christmas cookies, and yesterday, I ate the last one.
Maybe tomorrow I'll take down the tree.