There is one thing that I truly associate with the holidays. It’s not eggnog or peppermint or gingerbread, although all of those things carry their holiday nostalgia as well. No; for me, the most Christmasy thing I can imagine is my late grandmother’s Hello Dollies.
Once a year, every year, when Christmas rolls around, I break out her handwritten recipe on a faded note card and bake up a batch of these nostalgic treats. Like most handed-down recipes, the instructions are rather vague. And yet, I’ve never once messed them up. It’s almost as if I have her spirit to guide me through.
It’s strange how that little note card seems so fragile. It is from another time and place entirely, and to hold it in my hands feels slightly surreal. It is as if I must handle it with the greatest care or risk it shattering in the palm of my hands. Every time I look at it, I envy my grandmother’s perfect, dainty handwriting (mine is all over the place). Unlike a recipe from a random cookbook or website, it feels as if she’s actually speaking to me. I can see her in her kitchen, many years ago, preparing these beloved cookies for my father and his brother, who to this day cannot get enough of them. It’s slightly eerie, but a special experience indeed. No matter how fancy or impressive a cookbook is, it will never come close to the special feeling of following a hand-written family recipe.