Carmen Buss: Christmas traditions -- from cookies to reindeer poop

Carmen Buss

Our Christmas tree is up. Our new lights are twinkling on the porch railing. A double recipe of cut-out sugar cookies is in the freezer waiting to be frosted and decorated.

I made two batches of Chex Party Mix, which the boys consumed in 36 hours. I smuggled two bags of chocolate stars into the house for baking chocolate star cookies. I checked on them the other day. Half of one bag was gone. Gordy "fessed" up that he had been nibbling on them for a few days. I shouldn't be surprised.

It's tradition that I make a half-dozen batches of Chex Mix during the holidays and that one bag of chocolate stars gets eaten before I get a chance to bake the cookies.

It's also tradition at our house, and I think at many other folks', to leave cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve. We always leave a carrot out for Rudolph, too. One year when the boys were pre-school age, they were fascinated with the idea of flying reindeer, so Gordy discovered reindeer "poop" (actually Brach's Bridge Mix candy) in the snow by the side of the house on Christmas morning. For a little while, that reindeer poop was more interesting than the stuff Santa had left under the tree.

"The Gingerbread Man" was one of Noah and Jake's favorite stories when they were little. One Christmas I got the bright idea to bake gingerbread men while the boys were at preschool, then told the boys when they got home that some of the gingerbread men might have jumped off the cookie sheet and escaped when I took them out of the oven. The boys had a blast searching for a few fugitive gingerbread men.

We did this for several years, and these pesky gingerbread men hid in the craziest places: underwear drawers, beds, the shower, backpacks, coat pockets, on ceiling fans, etc.

One year I figured the boys were too old for the gingerbread man search and didn't allow any escapees. You never saw such disappointment. So -- you guessed it -- we still do the gingerbread man thing. Those gingerbread men have to be really sneaky now that two teenagers are hunting them down.

Carmen Buss writes for the Cresco Times-Plain Dealer in Cresco, Iowa.