Three years ago during the holidays, The Husband and I were going through a true test of our marriage. We both lost our jobs within a month of each other and then found out we were going to be parents. While Little Tot was truly wanted and finding out the news of his arrival was exciting, it was also terrifying. We could barely take care of ourselves. How were we going to provide for a baby?
I know I’ve brought this story up several times throughout the course of this blog. Until you are in that situation, you can’t really understand the impact it has on your life. I spent many nights lying in bed wondering if we were going to be able to pay the bills that month. The Husband will tell you there were a lot of tears shed (by me, not him).
I remember that Christmas Eve, The Husband and I came home from holiday festivities with our extended family and sat down to watch the movie The Polar Express. Neither one of us were really in the holiday spirit. And to be honest, I even think our bank account was overdrawn. I had seen the movie The Polar Express so many times before – it’s one of my favorites – but that night after the movie was over and we were getting ready for bed, I sat alone in our bathroom and wished so hard that it ached that a magic train would pull up in front of our house and take me to the North Pole.
I know, that sounds like a crazy wish.In fact, going back and reading that sentence right now makes me laugh. I think more than anything I just wanted to go back to when I was a kid and still believed in Santa. I didn’t have to worry about things like bank account balances, and bills, and jobs. When I was a kid, I would lie in bed and stare up at the dark ceiling and silently squeal with excitement over the fact that Santa was on his way. I always woke up at some ungodly hour to tiptoe out into the cold living room too to see if he had come yet, and then I would sit in front of the tree and take it all in. I didn’t dare touch anything. I didn’t want my parents to know I had been there (they probably knew).
As we grow up, Christmas starts to lose a lot of its magic. It becomes more about crowds, and overspending, and extended shopping hours and less about family, and Christmas carols, and hot chocolate, and a little baby in a manger. Little Tot, without even knowing it, has been doing a great job of making me focus on the little things. For instance, The Husband and I put so much time into picking out and decorating the perfect tree but already we have gotten to the point where we don’t notice it as much when we walk into the room. Inevitably though, at some point every day, Little Tot will point and exclaim, “Christmas tree!” as if this tree with all its glittering lights and sparkly ornaments just appeared and hasn’t been sitting in the same spot for three weeks. It reminds me to stop what I’m doing and admire the Christmas tree with the same awe and wonder that my two-year-old does.
Last week, I decided to make Christmas cookies for the first time in a long time. The Husband was away for the night and Little Tot was in bed. I turned up the Christmas music and lost myself for a few hours in sugar, flour, and Bing Crosby. Even if the cookies turned out to be a flop, it did wonders for my Christmas spirit.
They weren’t a flop. They turned out great. The cookies aren’t very sweet, but you don’t want it competing with the sweet buttercream icing. They have all the flavors of Christmas – nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon. While Little Tot hasn’t quite grasped the idea of Santa (aka Ho Ho) and his sleigh, I’m thinking this time next year we’ll be leaving cookies and milk out for the big man in the red suit. I’ve found my cookie recipe.
Eggnog Cookies with Buttercream Icing
- 1-1/3 cups butter, softened
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons eggnog
- ½ teaspoon rum extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 1-1/2 teaspoons rum extract
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 to 3 tablespoons eggnog
- Additional ground nutmeg
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar on medium to medium-high speed until fluffy.
- Add egg yolks, one at a time. Beat until well incorporated, scraping the side of the bowl as needed.
- Add eggnog and rum extract.
- Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing well between each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Cover cookie dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place at least two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 12-16 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are brown.
- Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, butter, rum extract, nutmeg, and cinnamon at low speed, increasing to medium speed once the ingredients start to come together.
- Gradually add eggnog until icing reaches desired consistency.
- Spread icing over the tops of the cooked cookies.
- Sprinkle with additional eggnog if desired.
- Let cookies stand until icing is set.
- Store uneaten cookies in an airtight container.