My mother had the gift of hospitality. Not only did she enjoy cooking and entertaining, but she excelled at both. One of my favorite possessions is her recipe book. I love looking at the stained pages and wondering how old I was when those markings were made.

            Some of my fondest holiday memories are the those of the two of us making Christmas cookies together. I still have her old metal cookie cutters, and one day they will be passed on to my grandchildren.

            Mom made beautiful (and delicious) cut sugar cookies. We would spend December evenings in the  kitchen singing Christmas carols and decorating cookies to present as gifts to our neighbors. I loved shaking on the colored sugar and piping on iced trimmings.

            But my favorites were her cookie canes, maybe because my special job was using a hammer or meat cleaver to crush the peppermint sticks for the topping. (What child wouldn’t love such a noisy activity?) Her cookie canes were her masterpieces, and over the years, she probably made thousands to give as gifts.

            My dad was a career Air Force officer, so most of our Christmases were spent away from family. Our military friends and neighbors became our family, and Mom’s gift boxes of cookies provided the warmth of home and memories of family that might have been far away.

            Redeeming Christmas is dedicated to my mother. Her love for baking and her heart of service were the inspiration for the character of Liv’s grandmother, Nana. Like Mom, Nana’s heart of service brought much joy to friends and neighbors.

            I will forever be grateful for Mom’s generous and loving example of using her gifts to minister to and bless others.


Lillian’s Cookie Canes

Mix together:

1/2 cup of shortening

1/2 cup of butter

1 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1 egg

1teaspoon vanilla


Sift together:

 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1 tsp salt


Stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Divide the dough into half. Color one half red, then chill the dough. Roll a small portion of each color into a “rope” about 4-5” long. Twist the red and white ropes together, and then shape into a cane. Bake at 375 on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.


While the cookies are baking, mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup crushed peppermint sticks.


Remove cookies from oven and sprinkle immediately with the peppermint stick and sugar mixture. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Carol James


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