Going Gluten-FreeDecember 6, 2011

A Kickoff to Holiday Baking

Joseph is happy to have a full cookie jar!

“Empty.” That’s what the sign on my snowman cookie jar said when I took it out with all of the other Christmas decorations. Every day since, that blasted snowman has stared at me from the kitchen counter, silently demanding that I start baking. My kids, however, have not been so silent.

It's not like they’re sugar deprived. We just enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast free of peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard (the allergens to which my son is allergic) with plenty of sweets for dessert. Joseph, 8, and Pamela, 3, helped me make turkey-shaped sugar cookies, pumpkin pie and a turkey-shaped red velvet cake for the meal. It was all yummy and the cake provided some goofy excitement when its head rolled off in slow motion as I set it on the table.

But Christmas treats provide a different kind of excitement that’s tinged with anticipation and tradition. My kids have been poring over the stack of cookbooks and Christmas baking magazines that we consult each year and analyzing last year's Christmas Eve menu to decide what to bake this year. For example, Cybele Pascal's recipe for chocolate thumb print cookies that were featured in Living Without magazine in December 2009 were a big hit and certainly will make a return for this year's Christmas Eve dessert-fest. Joseph and Pamela reminisce about favorite treats from years past, and then they start asking which dessert we’ll bake first, and then, of course, "Can we bake now?"

Although I’ve always treasured this magical season, I enjoy it even more now that my husband and I have children. Christmas treats are just one part of our family’s holiday cheer. Both kids get excited about the tree, the Christmas books, the yuletide carols and the holiday specials on TV. They count down to the big day with their advent calendars. I think all these things make the Christmas goodies taste even better.

But back to baking. My next task is to make sugar cookies in lots of Christmas shapes. I don’t want to see that “Empty” sign on that snowman for the rest of the holiday season!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Living Without contributor Wendy Mondello blogs about food allergies at http://tasteofallergyfreeliving.blogspot.com

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