Holiday traditions are the things that make the holidays “the holidays.” For me it’s getting out the box of ornaments, putting on Handel’s “The Messiah” (from Thanksgiving through New Year’s only), and listening to Linus explain to Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about.
A few years ago, however, I found myself wanting a new tradition – one that I could make my own. As if by fate, soon after that I heard about Drop In and Decorate, the cookies for donation nonprofit started by fellow New Englander and food blogger Lydia Walshin. The concept is simple – bake cookies, invite friends over to help decorate them, then donate your finished creations to a community agency providing food or shelter. By incorporating three of my favorite holiday themes (food, friends, and acts of kindness) I knew Drop In and Decorate was going to be my new holiday tradition.
I have hosted a decorating party for the past two years, and I am already eyeing the calendar for this year’s event. Last year I worked a Sunday brunch into the schedule, which I hoped would relieve some of the normal holiday event scheduling pressure and allow my guests to relax and enjoy themselves.
After filling up on scones, fried potatoes, and frittata we sipped mimosas at a table laden with cookies, bowls of sprinkles, bottles of icing, and all sorts of decorating tools.
In no time every surface in my kitchen was covered with colorful, sparkling cookies. Later that day, I bagged them up, tied each bag with festive ribbon, and delivered them in a basket to the Cambridge, MA Senior Center, where I knew many a sweet tooth would appreciate them.
Holiday traditions can be as small as texting your brother-in-law the first time you hear his favorite Christmas carol on the radio (“Silver Bells”) to as large as hosting a brunch and committing yourself to baking and decorating almost two hundred sugar cookies for donation, but the good feeling we get when we do them is the same.
Keeping old traditions alive and creating new ones are what keep the magic of the holidays going. They give us things to look forward to, things to celebrate with family and friends, and remind us of what makes us joyful. Hopefully we are able to share that joy and spread it around, either with a smile to a stranger, a thoughtful message in a holiday card, or by sharing a basket delicious cookies.