A Legacy of Christmas Spirit and Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Little Myndi at Christmastime. Check out the super-fly shag carpeting!

So many of my childhood memories of the Christmas season are wrapped up in little Christmas tree shaped bites of heaven.

My mom loved Christmastime.  Really loved it.  There wasn’t a corner of our house that wasn’t touched by her immense Christmas spirit, and there wasn’t a soul that knew her that didn’t gain a little joy from her infectious, child-like love of the holidays.

Sometimes I wonder what our Christmases would be like now if she were still around.  She’d spoil our kids rotten, that’s for sure.  Probably slip my oldest some hot spiced wine while I wasn’t looking – just a little, with a conspiratorial wink that would say, “Let’s keep it between us.”  She would have definitely passed on her mad skills with a razor blade – very useful when one needs to sneak a peek at what’s inside an expertly wrapped present.  Then, of course, she’d have to teach them to re-wrap said present in a way that hid the crime.  I know she would have patiently listened to long recitations of Christmas lists and done her darndest to make sure every item appeared under the tree.  Their stockings would have been stuffed so full that there would be a basket under each one overflowing with extra goodies she just couldn’t fit in there.

And she would have taught her grandkids how to make cream cheese sugar cookies.

Growing up, these were a holiday staple.  From Thanksgiving through New Years, we were never without her special, yummy, add-inches-to-your-waistline cookies.  Decorated in festive colors, with at least one red-hot candy on each.

Sadly, she’s not here to teach them stuff like that.  She’s not here to snuggle them and spoil them.  Most days I’m pretty okay with that.  It’s just a fact of life: we live, and we die.  None of us get to choose when, or how, or why.  It’s out of our control.  It sucks, but I get it.

My mom as a teenager.

This season has already been harder for me than the past ten.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones.  Maybe it’s the fact that she died at 42 – a measly ten years older than I am now.  I look at my oldest child, who is nearly ten, and it’s suddenly glaringly real how quickly ten years can pass.  I’m going to be 42 in the blink of an eye.

But the holidays offer something special when I miss her – the chance to bring a little of her spirit back to life.  This year we have three Christmas trees shining brightly in our windows.  Lights strung outside.  Cloves and cinnamon simmering on the stove.  Christmas music playing constantly.  Loads of laughter and people in and out our front door, celebrating with us.  All of these things have her fingerprints on them.

And there are, of course, sugar cookies.  Cookies made by small, eager hands that never knew her, but are blessed by her just the same .


36 thoughts on “A Legacy of Christmas Spirit and Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

  1. gingercalem says:

    First {{{HUGS}}}! I can’t imagine losing my mom so young. I’ll be 42 next summer so this hits home for me. But second, what great memories you have and YOU can share the special spirit of your mom with your babies. Those cookies sound awesome. THIRD — not only were you a little cutie buy your mom as a teen, Holy Babe Batman!! 🙂

    P.S. I’d like to order some cookies. Do you ship to TX? *grin*

  2. Emma Burcart says:

    What a sweet way to remember your mom at the holidays. That was a very touching post. You’ve inspired me to put some more time into decorations this year. And I’ll add cream-cheese sugar cookies to the list, because they sound delicious!

  3. Liz Rutschman says:

    Brought tears to my eyes. It’s wonderful that you have such beautiful memories of your mom. I wish I could have known her.

  4. Lynette says:

    What loving Christmas past memories and Christmas future memories in the making! I am sorry you lost your mom so young and that you are struggling a little with that loss again. Time has a way of reminding us of the good and the bad. You mom sounds awesome, though. And those cookies sound heavenly!

  5. Shannon Esposito says:

    Awe, you just reminded me to appreciate my mom more & everything she does for my kids. Beautiful post about remembering your mom, I’m sure she’d love the fact that your kids are carrying on her tradition of baking those cookies & keeping her spirit alive.

  6. Lynn Kelley says:

    Myndi, this is a truly beautiful Christmas tribute to your mom. I’m sorry she passed away at such a young age and that your children didn’t get to know her, except through you, and that’s so special! That photo of little Myndi is precious. I remember those shag carpets. Haha! Ten years really does fly by in a flash. I can relate so well to this post because my husband’s mother died when he was 15. I never got to meet her, but they say she was a friend to all and I know I would have loved her, and our children would have loved her, too. My middle daughter was born on her birthday, so that was pretty special. I’m glad you’re passing your mother’s traditions on to your kids. I love those cream cheese sugar cookies, too. One of my favs!

  7. EllieAnn says:

    the holidays are so hard when you’ve lost someone. my best friend’s dad died on Christmas day and she can’t celebrate it.
    Great post. Thanks for sharing the lovely memory of your mother.

  8. Karen McFarland says:

    Myndi, I am so sorry that you lost your mother at such a young age. That surely left a huge hole in your heart. But thankfully you’ve got those adorable kiddies to help mend and fill it!

    Can’t wait to get that recipe! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Prudence MacLeod says:

    With each sparkling light, each delicious cookie, each eager young face and each sweet memory, that beautiful woman lives again, and always will. May the Yuletide season bring many blessed moments and loving memories. Oh, and more cookies, of course.

  10. Julie says:

    Beautiful post! And I think the loss of loved ones becomes more acute when we have our own children. But 42 is so young!

    My father, who is now passed, lost both of his parents as a teenager. He told me that the year he turned “older” than they were when they died was one of the most difficult of his life. So I can see how being exactly 10 years away from her age would make you start thinking about things differently.

    You’ve done a wonderful job of honoring your mother in this post, and I have no doubt her spirit IS with your kids.

  11. Tameri Etherton says:

    Ohmygosh, Myndi! Huge hugs to you!

    What a lovely post and a beautiful way to honor your mom, who, by the way I think was really my sister separated at birth. Except for those sugar cookies, we are so alike in our enthusiasm for Christmas.

    I hope this holiday season you’ll find joy in the little things and feel the presence of your mother as she wraps you in her Christmas Spirit.

  12. Marcy Kennedy says:

    Sending hugs your way. I’m sorry your mom isn’t still with you and your kids.
    I’m very blessed to still have my grandmother with me, and my favorite Christmas memories with her all center around the baking we’d do. She was born in Slovakia, so instead of some of the more normal things like gingerbread men or fruitcake, I learned to make honey cookies and nut rolls (the Slovakian names for which I never could learn to pronounce correctly) 🙂

  13. coleen patrick says:

    Thanks for sharing this Myndi–so heartfelt and lovely. I am 42 and I can’t imagine leaving everyone behind right now. But your memories are very sweet and I imagine just the way your mom would want to be remembered.
    Oh and cream cheese sugar cookies! Yum, we used to have those when I was a kid too–and sometimes dipped halfway in chocolate.

  14. Sheila Seabrook says:

    Myndi, you have made me cry. Today is the second anniversary since my dad’s passing and I miss him in so many ways. He was 83 when he died and I can’t imagine losing him as early as you lost your mom. Thank goodness for the traditions and memories they have left us with. My heart is with you this season as you build those special memories with your children.

    Thank you for sharing your mom with us today. And I’m looking forward to your cookie recipe. 🙂

  15. Jennifer says:

    Lovely post, Myndi. I came for the cookie recipe (definitely looking forward to it tomorrow!) and stayed for the stories of your mom. I’m glad you’re able to pass down the traditions and memories to your kids.

  16. Patricia says:

    Oh my goodness, Marcy, what a lovely post. Brought tears to my eyes. My mother passed away three years ago, but it seems like just yesterday. She died on January 10th and spent the entire Christmas holiday in intensive care so this time of the year is especially difficult. I remember New Years Eve, December 2007, I was driving home from the hospital, trying to be home at midnight so I could kiss my husband. The closer I got the home, the more I knew I wasn’t going to make it, even though I kept increasing my speed to max out at 80. I arrived home at 12:05. I think that was the worst feeling; I wasn’t with my mom or my husband, like I’d failed them both somehow.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing your lovely post. I look forward to the sugar cookie recipe as well. Going there now.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  17. Debra Kristi says:

    Aw sweetie. I wish I was there to give you a great big hug. I understand the loss of a parent but I think there is a special bond between a mother and a daughter. That’s a tough one. And to be at that 10 year mark. Ugh. I am 42 now and it’s hard to think about leaving this word with my kids unprepared, not that anyone is ever really prepared when the moment comes. My heart goes out to you. I like to burn a candle at the holidays in memory of those that are no longer with us. Every little thing we do to keep them in our thoughts is an honor. ❤

  18. Angela Orlowski-Peart says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. 42 is way too early to leave. It’s so heartbreaking to even think about what you have gone through. I am sending a virtual huge hug to you, dear.

    I can’t imagine life without my parents but one day it will happen. They live so far away and I see them every few years. So much happens in-between in my life here, and in their life, in Europe. One visit during summer months, no matter how long, is never enough.

    Like Debra, I also burn a candle in memory of the loved ones that have departed from this life. I usually do that on their birthdays and namedays (we celebrate namedays in Eastern Europe).

    Hang in there — holidays are tough without our loved ones (oh, I know too well how hard it is), but fortunately you have your children and husband to make this season lovely.

    • Myndi Shafer...one stray sock away from insanity. says:

      Thanks for the sweet words, Angela! *hugs back*

      Living long distance from your loved ones is TOUGH. We were a similar situation a few years back, an ocean and a continent away from our families. It’s hard when you only see your family briefly, once a year. It was especially hard on my husband, who is really close with his folks and siblings. I bet you feel homesick often. *more hugs*

      What are namedays?

      Merry Christmas to you, sweet girl!

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