Let the wild holiday rumpus start.
In our house, the Christmas season is not allowed to start before Thanksgiving. But it really doesn’t start until Christmas Mouse is pulled out of his (her? – not sure, it’s a mouse) plastic bin where he lives with the other holiday decorations. Christmas Mouse was sent to our family by my father-in-law and his wife when our boys were babies.
When you squeeze his foot, he sings We Wish You a Merry Christmas in a high, warbly voice. And he waves his little mouse arms and rocks side to side at the same time. At first, I hated this little singing and dancing rodent.
But surprisingly, he grew on me. These days, he is a bit temperamental in his singing. Maybe he’ll sing for you, maybe not. But we keep him.
The important thing is that once Christmas Mouse is unpacked, the wild holiday rumpus can start.
(Click this link to see Christmas Mouse in action!)
And the most important holiday tradition in our house is…
I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer this, so I asked the three main guys in my life what they thought. Two quickly said, “Christmas cookies.” The third talked about being allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and waking up really early Christmas morning. But when he was told the others wanted Christmas cookies, he became super animated and agreed wholeheartedly.
When I was growing up, my mom made double or even triple batches of cookies each holiday season. Between my three brothers, me, and our friends tromping into the house after sledding or ice skating, it’s hard to believe there would be enough. But there seemed to be an unending supply.
I loved baking with my mom, and now my kids bake with me.
This recipe for Russian Teacakes is from the 1960 edition of Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book. Russian teacakes are my favorite Christmas cookie. My mom, and now I, have baked them every single holiday season for my whole life. Even little kids can contribute to this tradition by rolling the baked cookies in confectioners’ sugar.
(I’m including the commentary from the original recipe because I love old cookbooks and their history.)
Russian Teacakes – Crunchy, sugared, nut-filled snowballs.
This favorite with men came to us from a man. Carl Burkland, an eastern radio executive, often makes them himself at Christmastime.
- 1 cup soft butter
- 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift together and stir in:
- 2 1/4 cups sifted flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
Chill dough. Roll into 1″ balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet (cookies do not spread). Bake until set, but not brown. While still warm, roll in confectioners’ sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again.
Time: Bake 10 to 12 minutes
Amount: About 4 dozen 1″ cookies