A Marathon Not a Sprint

You’ve heard me say it before. When it comes to the holiday season take one day at a time and just put one foot in front of the other. Take your time. Do what you need to do and if you are able to weave your grief into the holiday spirit by all means do so.

If you are a guest among someone who is having a difficult time I encourage you to share some stories about the person who is gone from the table. If they are funny tales then even better. Don’t be afraid that you might make another cry. Those tears are the glue that mend the broken heart. The stories are priceless and allows the grief to be public, to be normal, to not be alone. Your courage to speak out loud is the best gift under the tree. Be the comfort and joy.

linzer tarts with Norm’s Farms elderberry jam

Baking brings me comfort and joy. At this time of year it is absolutely a marathon of cookies. So many recipes on this run to Christmas Eve. Some are traditional family favorites like linzer tarts, thumb prints and pressed spritz cookies, but if you know me I have to have some new creative additions, too.

Spritz cookies are the perfect holiday bite. Sweet, crisp and buttery nothing dresses up a cookie tray like these pressed cookies. With a rainbow of colors and sprinkles the fun and festive designs are endless. If you don’t already own a cookie press I highly recommend the Marcato Biscuits Machine as it is so easy to use and every cookie presses out perfectly. 

If you must know nutty thumb print cookies are my absolute favorite. The very best recipe comes from Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray book. I never tinker with her recipe because it truly is the perfect cookie. This year I tried Norm’s Farms elderberry jam with roasted and salted pecans in one batch and almonds and mango fruit spread in the other. Fantastic, melt in your mouth sweet sensations with just enough salty crunch.

Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray Thumb Cookies


2 sticks butter, softened

½ cup sugar

2 eggs, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

2 cups chopped nuts

¾ cup jelly

Heat oven 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light. Add egg yolks and vanilla; blend well. On low speed, gradually add salt and flour; mix just until soft dough forms. Shape into 1-inch balls. In small bowl, beat egg whites until fluffy. Place nuts in another small bowl. Dip dough balls into egg white and then roll in nuts coating well. Place on baking sheets two inches apart. Using your fingers, press tops of cookie balls to flatten. With your finger, make a dent in the center of each cookie. Spoon ½ teaspoon of jelly into the dent. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to a rack to cool. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies. Store in an airtight container.

Talk about comfort and joy. Invite a child into your kitchen to bake this year. Don’t worry about the potential mess. That is why God invented vacuum cleaners and other assorted cleaning supplies. Oh, what fun……bake some memories.

Quite a lovely gingerbread house for a 2 1/2 year old

16 thoughts on “A Marathon Not a Sprint

  1. Once again, thank you for sharing. Because grief has so many forms, your words always help others know how to best show love and support. And now I am going to bake some Christmas cookies and think of you, sweet friend!

    • I hope I offer a more modern take on grief and bury some of those old myths about being silent. I know your home is going to be filled with lots of Christmas aromas and goodness.

  2. Such beautiful words eloquently said. It is often hard to know what the right thing to do or say so thank you for helping all of us.

    Little ones’s Gingerbread house is better than anything I’ve ever made! I’ve given up!

    • Don’t be afraid to feel the person out. You can always just ask if they would like to hear a story. It gives them the option of saying yes or no.

      Annabelle is so focused. I am amazed how she can directions and just go with it.

  3. I am so happy to see you have been blogging again! I’ve been spending the fall baking with my five year old neighbor. All the joy of having a small one in the house, and I can send her home when it’s done. I am making shotbreads with with candied Sicilian oranges and lemons. As always I appreciate your wisdom. Peace and hugs to you❤️

    • I thought I could end it, but I couldn’t. Just more proof that the grief never ends I guess. The realization was a learning experience for me as I move forward with what I now call my modern take on grief.

      Your neighbor is a lucky girl and since I am half Sicilian I am just delighted by your take on shortbread.

      Merry Christmas dear friend ❤

  4. It’s always a joy to read your blog, see photos of your newest recipe creations, precious pics of Annabelle and read words of comfort for those who have lost a loved one.

    I’m also thrilled you’ve decided to continue sharing recipes and life stories at Good Grief Cook as you navigate your “modern take on grief” I love you to the moon and back again.

    Merry Christmas, xoxo #FFF

    • Your beautiful faith has certainly helped me along. You heard my story back in 2015 as you randomly sat next to me on a bus. Many would have run away from my broken heart but you ran toward it. I am ever grateful for your love and the peace you have brought into my life.

  5. I have that same doily pic of Tyler, except Will’s is in much better shape than mine! Do you remember which teacher they had? Anyway, I loved this blog post. Your words of wisdom never cease to amaze me. We all are missing loved ones and somehow you hit the nail on the head with how best to manage it. BTW your cookies look amazing, and I bet having that precious child help you in the kitchen is added therapy for sure.

    • On the back of the ornament William wrote “Merry Christmas from your son 1995” which would have put him in Tyler in second grade. Maybe Mrs. Butler?

      Your family tells the best William stories ever….the good, the bad and the ugly. The best healing medicine for me is sitting around your table listening to those.

      I individually wrap my ornaments and store them in tupperware containers. Each one has a story.

  6. I love hearing the “Will” stories too, there are so many! Tyler had Mrs. Lee so I guess they weren’t in the same class. Seems like a lifetime ago *(sigh…).

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