None of us could fathom why my Oma would spend the countless hours that she did making those cookies: The ones that had to be rolled out to paper thin-ness, the ones that were more nuts and butter than flour, the ones that no matter what you did the dough crumbled at the most feathery of touches. Always wondering why on earth you made a double batch of these things, but glad in the end that you did.
“You’re as bad as your grandmother!”
I’ve now had the mantle of Spitzbuben-perfection passed on to me. I roll the dough, paper thin, patching the cracks with a gentle push, stabbing dough over and over again with my Oma’s cookie cutters. Cookie cutters that are probably older than my mother, but show the quality of their craftsmanship in that very age.
And I think to myself, all the while, that I don’t even remember ever making these cookies even once with her. They were the cookies that were made during the Silent Night. Which is it that stands? The memory of a perfect sandwich of butter, nuts, and raspberry jam or the memory of my Oma actually making them? And does it really even matter?
Whether it’s the cookie or the experience, it’s still my Oma. It’s still her hands that made each and everyone of the thousands upon thousands that she made during her life. It’s still her hands that molded the dough and held the cookie cutters. It’s still her hands that have molded us into who WE are.
My Oma was not one to tell you how much she loved you. She was German. She was born in 1931, at the beginning of Hitler and WWII; there was no room for emotion, but there was room for love. To her, growing up with so little, most likely hungry, to her, love was food. It was the food she made that showed her love: The more difficult, the more time consuming, the more fragile, the more love.
And you know what, that “You’re as bad as your grandmother”…. I take that as a compliment.
*And yes, you may need to add a touch more butter to the dough to get it just right.