How Christmas Cookies and the Gospel Brought These 10 Women Together for 40 Years (+Their Favorite Recipes)

by | Dec. 07, 2018

Mormon Life

How much love does a cookie hold? Ten friends who will celebrate their 40th year of exchanging Christmas cookies can tell you. For them, the baking, packaging, and sharing of cookies each December is a reminder that time cannot diminish the love shared by friends through a cookie! Don't forget to look through all the pages for all their favorite cookie recipes.

 In 1978, I read an article in a magazine about a Christmas cookie exchange. As I had three small children and knew of nine friends and neighbors with young families, this seemed like the perfect way to socialize and provide a variety of cookies for all of us. I invited them to a Christmas brunch and exchange of goodies, and that was the beginning of a tradition we had no idea we would still observe almost a half-century later.

"Cookie Party" from 1979–1987

Our children are grown and on their own (though we, of course, never seem to age!), and at one time we talked about just having a brunch and discontinuing the cookie exchange. We didn’t need 10 dozen cookies and their calories to share with just our husbands, and it wasn’t getting any easier to bake and package all those Christmas treats. But we decided to continue to do it because our husbands, grown children, and grandchildren still anxiously ask, “When’s the ‘Cookie Party’?” Then they meet us on our doorsteps, ready to check out this year’s stash and devour our exchanged goodies.

As we have each taken turns hosting the “Cookie Party,” we have stepped into the warmth of the home of a friend, removing ourselves from the bustle of Christmas. We continue to sit down together and share a meal and our thoughts about the paths of our lives. We have soared with joy at each other’s triumphs and have buckled in pain with each other’s burdens and heartaches. We hug and we love. We share gifts from our kitchens and our hearts. 

We’ve gone from blonde, brunette, and red-headed young mothers with 54 children between us to gray (or hidden gray)-haired grandmothers of 204 and great-grandmothers of 5.

But each of us still has dear or favorite memories of our cookie party years.

Strengthening Each Other Through Trials 

Lyn Jensen: There’s nothing better than cookies. But one of my most tender memories is standing together in a circle as we prayed for the son of one of our members to recover from a serious illness. It’s wonderful to have cherished women around you to help you grow up!

"Cookie Party" from 1988–1990

Bonnie Brinton: In recent years my favorite thing about the “Cookie Party” is that I get to see friends I only see once a year now that several of us have moved away from our original ward area. Especially poignant to me have been the times we shared experiences of heartache at the illness or death of a child or a spouse. The happiest of memories are being in each other’s homes at Christmastime and catching up on the events of each other’s lives during the past year. And of course… the cookies—the cookies are always the highlight!

Judy Cannon: When our son was so sick in 1997 that I couldn’t attend, these dear friends made sure there were cookies that Christmas season for my family. When that son, Nathan, eventually died six months later, cookies were replaced by love. What a blessing in my life! 

Journeying through the Years Together

Margaret Pugsley: I have enjoyed so much seeing the annual photos of our group over the many years—what we looked like as young mothers and seeing how we’ve changed. My favorite photo is the one with four or five of us pregnant and in the same shirts. The cookies are the force that keep us coming each year—we have to bake the cookies in order to come (because bakery baked cookies have become most acceptable!). As the years have come and gone, the cookies seem far less important to us. It’s the friendship and memories of past years that makes it all so very worthwhile.

"Cookie Party" from 1991–1993

Julie Boyce: I have loved getting together at the end of each year with women I have known forever and sharing where our lives have taken us. It has been a long road, and we all have had a turn in lifting each other along the way.

Freda Harris: For me, it has been about the journey. As young mothers, our friendship began as neighbors who went to church together and had children of similar ages. One December, we shared a brunch and cookies we’d baked for each other’s families. In the 40 year journey of cookie sharing that has followed we have a priceless tapestry of life stories woven together in love. How grateful I am for the journey.

Building Forever Friendships

Cathy Steele: The “Cookie Party” is a part of what makes Christmas Christmas for me. Cookies can come to us on any given day, from a friend or neighbor to comfort us, to welcome us, to show love and care for us, but the cookies shared at our cookie exchange have brought with them, forever friends who will always be a special part of my life.

"Cookie Party" from 1994–2002

Ann Mecham: It was so much fun to stop shopping for every member of my family, go to a beautiful home, eat a delicious brunch someone else had cooked for me, and laugh together hearing stories of how no one was ready for Christmas yet. And to top it off, I got to take home nine dozen yummy cookies I hadn’t even baked!

Gayle Cannon: Our “Cookie Party” is a treasured tradition to the Cannon family and adds to wonder and excitement of Christmas. Each year as I have gathered the ingredients, prepared the dough, and baked each batch of cookies, I reflect on each individual person in our “Cookie Party” and how much she means to me in my life. 

"Cookie Party" from 2003–2011

Forty years of living have brought us from mommies in motion to empty nesters. Six of us have moved from our shared neighborhood, and each of us has faced the various triumphs and defeats that life entails. Some of our daughters have carried on the tradition with cookie exchanges of their own. Our continuing to embrace the “Cookie Party” is a testament to the love of the gospel, which brought us together in the first place. It is our shared faith and loving prayers for each other that have bonded us with a far greater sisterhood than the token of friendship our cookies represent. No longer do we all live in the same ward, but we continue to feel the love we felt for each other that began there. We are sisters…in the gospel and in our hearts.

"Cookie Party" from 2012–2017

“Isn’t it amazing how much love a cookie holds”!

*Author's note:  We don’t have a picture of our first “Cookie Party”…but we haven’t missed in the 38 years that have followed. If we aren’t in the picture, we: A) took it, B) were late and missed it, or C) in the case of Judy and Margaret were out of the country serving church missions)

Go to the next page to find these friends' favorite cookie recipes from over the years! 

All images courtesy of Claudia Scalley
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