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Mör’s Christmas Cookies

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It seems safe to say that, for most of us, Christmas is heavily laced with sentiment and tradition. There are the common, shared practices of decorating the requisite tree, hanging lights outside the house and giving gifts to loved ones. But then there are the singular practices unique to each individual or family. This poem is about my own, enduring tradition. It flips-on the Christmas switch in my heart.

Mör's Christmas Cookies

I cannot remember a Christmas
That I did not enjoy from my mother
Little green Christmas tree cookies
I always get some one way or another

Mör made them reliably in December
An integral part of her Christmas tradition
They were essential for Christmas spirit
A requisite Christmas condition

She made them for me in grade school
And then when in high school as well
When I was off in uniform during Viet Nam
It'd become Christmas just by their smell

In later distant years on my own
Livin' no matter how-far away
They would show up in the mail
Every Christmas come what may

Then there was my own game I'd play
On any of those years that I knew
I'd not be spending Christmas with her
I'd try keepin' just one to chew

Just one uneaten green cookie
To have on Christmas mornin'
Pretendin' I was with my mother
A seasonal make-believe performin'

Mom was Swedish, I called her “Mör”
She died in July of two-thousand-one
She left a huge, black hole in my life
And how would those cookies get done?

That year, driven to still have Christmas
I’d not let Mör's tradition be broken
I brashly tried bakin’ her cookies myself
Not great, but still an earnest token

I acquired those baking tools of hers
I still use ‘em all every December
I break out her flour sifter and recipe
Tryin’ to bake ‘em as I best remember

That first year I shipped some off to Kansas
My brother had always loved them like me
So I wanted him to have a mite extra
Sentimental flavor there under his tree

I passed some around to friends
And gave a batch to neighbors too
Folks have come to expect them now
Each Christmas, I've got it to do

So I turn up the Christmas Carols
While I start in a' yuletide bakin'
Of little green Christmas Tree Cookies
It's become my annual undertakin'

Mör ornamented with colorful non-pareils
In order to look like a decorated tree
So I faithfully include those candies too
It's my nature to seek authenticity

Most years they look like the Mör's
Some years I get close on the taste
But I haven’t quite mastered 'em yet
Maybe next year I’ll be graced

Mör never did teach me how to quit
Again, this year, I burned the first batch
But that didn't slow me down none
I make 'em whether or not they match

I still use her mixer and cookie press
Her scoop and old, thin cookie sheet
Her cooling racks and her flair too
I try but the Mör still has me beat

See, she used an ingredient I can't get
She baked with a mother's-only love
You don't just get that at Safeway
It's issued, only to mothers, from above

So that's the long story behind
This tradition I annually repeat
They'll never be as good as the Mör's but
Without them, Christmas just ain't complete

by Rik Goodell

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