Dear Friends,

Happy Holidays!

While I wasn’t raised in a religious family, we celebrated Christmas and there were certain rituals that coincided with this holiday that I still remember very well. Weeks ahead of Christmas both my grandmothers started baking cookies: SPRINGERLE HASELNUSSGUTSLE, STERNE, LEBKUCHEN, STOLLEN and other mouth watering creations – or should I say “tongue twisting” after you have attempted to pronounce the German names for all kinds of delicious goodies?

Then my grandmothers would hide the cookies. It was easy to figure out where they had hidden them, all you had to do was follow your nose. But that would lead you to a locked door! And you needed 2 keys. One for the locked door and a second key for a locked chest inside the locked room. Well, usually we grandchildren had a way of getting those keys. Then there was a lot of sneaking around and a greatly reduced stock of Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve!

Every year my grandmothers pretended that they were surprised and scolded us. And they were going to tell Saint Nicholas. But they never did and I suspect that they knew that cookie stealing was also part of Christmas. I guess they figured that some of the cookies were going to get “lost” and therefore made an extra batch or two.

Maybe you have a ritual in your family that you will remember for a long time as well!
Eric Carle