Most of us have Christmas memories and traditions we cherish. Some of them are food-related–a special dish or recipe. I’ve seen many recipes included in blogs, newsletters, and social media posts during the weeks before Christmas.

Christmas cookies. You probably have a favorite. Although I make more than one kind during the Christmas season, when I think Christmas Cookies, I think of sugar cookies. My mother made them every year that I can remember. Sometimes we’d poke holes in them and hang them on the Christmas tree along with candy canes and ornaments. Here are some of my mother’s cookie cutters that she used at Christmas.

My mother loved to bake and decorate cookies, and she preferred to do it alone, although she allowed helpers sometimes. The gingerbread boy had raisin eyes and red cinnamon candy buttons, and she added frosting outlines. I think my favorite were and still are the Christmas trees, with sprinkles or candies on top of the frosting.

In my novel Her Heart’s Longing, Katie Mann and her friend Haleigh Abbott make lots of Christmas cookies, most of which they give away. Christmas cookies make lovely gifts for friends or family members. They are a feature of Christmas parties, and they can be mailed to loved ones who can’t be with you at Christmas.

So, in honor of the holiday and my Christmas memories, here is a recipe I use for Christmas sugar cookies. You probably have your favorite, but perhaps you’ll enjoy trying mine.

Traditional Sugar Cookies (from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook c. 1972)

1 cup shortening (part butter or margarine, softened)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, eggs, and flavoring. Blend in flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover; chill at least one hour. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until very light brown. Makes about 4 dozen 3-inch cookies.

I frost my sugar cookies and add sprinkles or other decorations. You’ll want to let your cookies cool before decorating. Some people prefer sprinkling colored sugar on them before baking.