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  • Writer's pictureM. Winston (Winn) Egan

An Endorphin Explosion—All Because of a Cookie-Making Tradition

Last night, Diane invited all of her granddaughters, one grandson, and one married granddaughter-in-law to fashion and decorate sugar cookies. Diane and I made the cookie dough the night before—two big batches. We chilled the dough overnight so it would be ready for the arrival of our invited guests.

As each group of grandchildren arrived, I could sense the connection they had with each other. There were warm greetings and big smiles.

Because of this annual event's history, everyone was mostly ready to roll out their dough and begin stamping out their preferred cookies.

I am not sure how many cookie cutters we had—maybe 40, but we ran out of rolling pins. Thankfully, we have generous neighbors who shared their rolling pins with us. Our cookie cutters included angels, trees, stars, candy canes, gingerbread men, snowmen, etc. We had almost everything they needed. Some grandchildren even cut out their own unique shapes.

Jake, the youngest of the participants, worked next to his sister Lulu. As Jake began to roll out his portion of the cookie dough, it stuck to his rolling pin.

Almost on cue, Lulu kindly and carefully gave him a few hints. Patiently, she tutored him. I loved watching their tender interactions and Lulu's personalized tutoring.

Their sharing and conversation revealed a lot about their relationship. With Jake's confidence heightened and his skills enhanced, he rolled out his dough and began to stamp out his cookies.

As revealed in the photos, everyone was totally engaged. They shared the cookie cutters, took turns using the colored frostings, and shared the specialized coatings and objects.

However, for me, the best parts of the entire event were the jabbering, laughing, joking, and remembering. They reminisced about past family activities, shared vacations, and other silly things that had happened when they were together. They sang songs that accompanied various experiences they enjoyed together. They would say something like this: "Do you remember when we _________?" "I will never forget these words which we said about every 10 minutes when we were in ________."

"Oh, what about those guys we saw _________?"

There literally was not one moment of silence. The conversations and expressions were nonstop. Again, they laughed, joked with each other, and remember the fun and not-so-fun times together. It is these kinds of experiences grandchildren will never forget.

Now to the endorphin part of the story! Endorphins are natural chemicals in the body that fight pain. Endorphins are released when a person gets hurt, but also during exercise or laughter. In addition to blocking pain, endorphins can make people happy ( I am confident each grandchild left happier! Nothing better than "happier" grandchildren!

Attached are the recipes for the sugar cookies and icing. Have fun; schedule a cookie-making night—face-to-face or virtual.


Sugar Cookies

2 cups butter

1½ cups of granulated sugar

4 large egg yolks

2 tsp. vanilla

4 to 4½ cups of flour

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add flour.

The dough should be soft but not sticky. Place in a plastic storage bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll out on lightly floured board and cut as desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Cookie Icing

3 1 lb. bags of powdered sugar

3 tablespoons (heaping) powdered egg whites

Water to thin

Combine 2 lbs. of powdered sugar and egg whites. Gradually add enough water to make the frosting fairly thin. Add flavorings conservatively. Add 1 more pound of sugar and only enough water to make a workable consistency. Add more flavoring to taste.

Flavoring suggestions: Butter, clear vanilla, almond, orange, lemon, or mint extract

Create separate bowls of frosting according to your color preferences. We had five bowls; one yellow, one pink, one black, one green, and one blue. We also had all kinds of fun decorations (small stars, small silver balls, leaves, edible glitter, etc.).

The frosting dries hard very fast. If you do not intend to use the frosting immediately, cover each container with a moist towel.

Have fun! Jabber a lot! And laugh a lot!

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