Cookies helped chase away the blues

Friday, December 26, 2008

My best friend in Tennessee created a family tradition during the Christmas after her father died.

She and her mother and brothers stayed up late on Christmas Eve to bake cookies and drink screwdrivers.

They'd laugh as the cookies were decorated with more unique designs later into the evening. Some had more sugar than others. Some were not perfect stars or even really round.

But the next morning, Christmas Day, they'd drive around town and deliver paper bags, or shoeboxes, or other kinds of containers filled with cookies that they said had been assembled with screwdrivers.

It was one of the few times each year they'd have something else in their orange juice. It was a way to forget they missed their head of the household. It was a way to add a little Christmas spirit and warm the soul on what might otherwise have been a cold night.

It was also a way to fall asleep with the giggles.

Each subsequent year, their delivery list seemed to grow longer. They were baking more cookies to give to more people who'd become memorable friends - and for whom they'd been thankful during those years when each calendar was coming to an end.

That family tradition grew in a small South Central Tennessee town that's not grown much through the generations.

I never heard that it got out of hand. There really was always far more juice than driver and there was always a debate on Christmas morning on who should play Rudolph in the left front seat of their old sedan.

The tradition had faded by the time I moved to town. Children grew up, had jobs and moved in with friends. At that time there were a lot of friends who bragged on the Christmas cookies.

And then there was a jolly fellow in town who started his own tradition by visiting folks with gallons of orange juice on Christmas Day. We figured he mixed frozen orange juice because everybody got a different kind of bottle. We called him Doc because he spoke of the importance of vitamin C in your diet.

Some folks said the big C stood for cookies. Both were such friendly gestures. Those were such happy times that grew from one cold, seemingly lonely fall.