Today I posted a recipe for my brother’s favorite cookies, Brown Eyed Susans and I talked about how each of us in our family has a favorite cookie on the trays so that you can’t ever think of leaving one out or someone will be disappointed.
As a kid, we lived on a “country road” where the houses were kind of spread apart and our neighbors were sometimes down a long and winding road, or in a house we couldn’t see, even though they were nearby. On Christmas Eve each year, my brother and I would walk up and down the road, up and down the long, winding driveways for hours, delivering our trays of cookies to our neighbors. Some of these people we wouldn’t see very often during the year, even though we were neighbors, but everyone knew that on Christmas Eve Chris and I would be coming around with the cookie trays.
It would take us hours because it wasn’t just a drop and run, it was a stop, stay and chat, and watch as the neighbors would exclaim over the cookie trays because they’d been waiting all year for their favorite cookie. I remember our one neighbor, Mr. Lussier, his favorites were Elephant Ears, and my mom only made just so many of those so each tray would get ONE Elephant Ear. The Lussiers knew that one cookie belonged to Mr. Lussier. As labor-intensive as those were, we could never leave them out or Mr. Lussier would be disappointed.
These memories of delivering the cookies are so, so special to me, I almost get choked up as I type this. Many of those people are now long gone, and my parents have since moved as well, but the memories…they stay forever and every single year when I make my cookies, I think of them fondly. It gets me through those moments at midnight the week before Christmas when I think to myself, “Why the heck am I doing this again?” Then I remember how much these cookies mean to the people we give them to, and how much the memories mean to me as well.
Today’s story is one that was given to my kids for Christmas in 2008 by my brother Chris and his wife, Nina, so I thought it was only appropriate to share today. It’s called “You Can Do It, Sam,” by Amy Hest and illustrated by Anita Jeram. Ours even came with a plush of the main character, courtesy of the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program that year. It’s about a mother bear and her baby bear, Sam. Together they make many cakes for their neighbors on Plum Street. Together they bake and together they wait as the cakes finish. And then, together, they put the cakes into bags for their neighbors. Sam is now old enough to deliver the cakes to the neighbors himself, as his mom waits in the truck for him as he delivers all twelve cakes to his neighbors.
It’s such a special story and it is so special that it was given to us by my brother and his wife, because whether they knew it at the time or not, it invokes such special memories for me of our days together, delivering our cookies to our neighbors. It’s a book to teach my kids about the special meaning behind baking for others, behind giving a piece of yourself to others, and creating memories of our own as a family during a crazy holiday season.