A long held tradition in the Voges (my mother’s maiden name) and Etienne families has been baking lots of cookies and other goodies to get ready for Christmas. One of my fondest memories were the days we spent baking a traditional Christmas cookie called Hartshorn. Last Christmas, I searched high and low here in Wyoming for the main ingredient, and it was nowhere to be found. So, this year while back in Southern Indiana for Thanksgiving, I stopped in a store I knew sold the Hartshorn, and brought an ounce back to Wyoming.
My mother always had a true gift for ‘building family’ with so many traditions. Cutting out cookies from dough, decorating the cookies with all sorts of sugar sprinkles, and baking these Hartshorn cookies ranks among one of my favorite memories as a child, that still to this day is one of those events that helps ‘make Christmas.’ Today, for the first time since I have been here in Wyoming, I gathered some friends and we decorated the Christmas tree and baked cookies.
In reality, the cookies are the lesser of the main ingredients for building community. The simple gathering of people for a common effort, visiting, sharing a common goal, listening to music and making memories is a basic for building community; building relationships. These relationships are at the heart of family, and are at the heart of Church.
I am so grateful to my Grandmother and my mother for making so many great memories from my childhood – not to mention so much good food! Jesus knew what he was doing when he gathered people around a meal. Life revolves around eating, and just as equally, around relationships.
If your Christmas and other holidays do not hold many such traditions, I strongly encourage your family to make your own. I also suggest that making memories in a kitchen is a great place to start!
Rejoice! It is Gaudete Sunday. The Lord is near!