Columns Small Talk

Small Talk: Christmas cookie crisis

My holiday just got deliciously brighter. A lovely mom at school left me a plate of flawlessly iced sugar cookies that were beautiful and delicious. Yep. I am shameless. I ate them all in one day — before I got home. 

And, as usual, I am waffling on the annual cookie exchange. There is nothing I love more than other people’s homemade baking, but it means I have to bake something of my own. Nobody really wants that.

I am the queen of burned cookies. Or maybe they aren’t burned, and they might taste OK, but they’ll look weird or misshapen. So, my options are embarrassing. I could buy the dough and offer those up as my own handiwork, but it seems a bit unfair. Everyone else has mixed, chilled, sliced, iced and messed up their kitchen creating wonderful treats. 

I have even stooped low enough to consider using store-bought cookies this year. I have discovered some very, very good ones, far better than I might bake — but I’m not sure I can do that and look in the mirror. It’s sad enough that I’m even tempted. Perhaps I should just back off. But, oh, all those wonderful Christmas cookies I might take home. I’ve had a taste and there may be no going back. And if you are truly blessed, you don’t bite down on a chocolate chip that turns out to be a raisin. P-tooey.  

My baking is hit and miss, but I know a good cookie when I taste it. There are oatmeal cookies and then there are oatmeal cookies. They are either perfectly crisp and oaty, or they resemble balls of flavorless grass clippings. And then there is the issue of butter. With all the sympathy in the world to the lactose intolerant, don’t bother serving me a cookie made with shortening. 

There are few disappointments in life like biting into what looks like a sublime, buttery Mexican wedding cookie (my mom called them sand tarts) and find that it resembles a combination of sweetened chalk dust and ground concrete. 

I starve all year long for this. I want my shortbread and I want it now, arteries be darned. Serve up the homemade biscotti. Pass me those pecan tartlettes.

Slice me up another one of those layered, peanut-butter chocolate dream bars. I’ve heard that whenever a good cookie is eaten, an angel gets its wings.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who can’t talk now because her mouth is full of cookie. Contact her at