Every year around this time of the year we would watch for it.
We would hear a delivery truck coming down the street and race to the window, our little faces pressed against the glass hoping, willing it to stop at our house.
And then would come the day that the truck did finally pull up to the curb in front of our house. We held our breath as the delivery man rummaged through the back before emerging holding something…was it the right size? Was it the right shape?
Was it THE BOX?
The doorbell would ring, we would hear the ‘thunk’ of it being dropped on our doorstep and we would race to open the door and drag it inside.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but our mom always looked kind of wistful as we cut through the tape and lifted the lid of the box.
Once opened, the contents of the box revealed themselves. Packages wrapped in colorful paper, some with the coveted tags which read, “Open Now” and some we knew would have to wait until Christmas morning. But, what we were most excited about were the packages wrapped in foil or tucked into Christmas tins.
Because we knew that those held the true treasures. Sugar cookies perfectly decorated, peanut butter balls, indoor S’mores, Rice Krispie Treats and candy.
These treats, this box, was a lifeline to our grandmother. And for two little girls living in California with no grandparents nearby, it represented so much. We imagined her at her home in Michigan baking in her kitchen and then carefully wrapping up the goodies to send all the way across the country to us.
Grandma passed away two years ago this Christmas. She was a farmers wife who worked tirelessly from sun-up to sun-down. She loved gardening, baking, her family and most of all The Lord. I loved every single treat that came from that box she sent to us. But the one that makes me feel the most connected to her, and to my mom are her Molasses Cookies.
Two Christmas’s ago, as my parents were traveling from Heather’s home in Georgia to my home in Oregon, they got caught in a horrible storm and wound up stuck on an Interstate in Texas unable to drive due to the 4 inches of ice and countless accidents ahead of them. They were there for 25 hours. And we all felt so helpless. I could talk to them on the phone and Heather and I were calling the local authorities to try and get them help and praying and praying and praying for them. But I couldn’t DO anything!
So, I baked. I baked the one thing that felt the most familiar, the most comforting.
Grandma’s Molasses Cookies.
When my daughter heard me gathering ingredients in the kitchen she quickly ran in and asked to help. I pulled up a kitchen stool and she sat down and we began going through the steps of the recipe.
And as we did I told her all about two little girls at Christmas-time. Little girls, just like her, who anxiously awaited the arrival of THE BOX . I told her about her great-grandmother and how much she loved Christmas. How she would sometimes even not be able to wait until the big day and would sneak a peek at her presents under the tree.
I told her about her Nonna, my mom, and how much she loves Christmas and all the traditions she created which we still carry on today. As I talked about my mom I ached just thinking about them being stuck so far away. And I ached because I missed my family…my parents, my sister and brother-in-law and niece and nephew.
And then it dawned on me.
That wistful look my mom would get every year when the box arrived was because she ached inside missing her own mom. Missing her home in Michigan and all of her family.
In reality, the box meant far more to her then it did to us.
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 cup raisens
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cream together shortening and sugar. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add molasses and applesauce and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl gently mix dry ingredients together then slowly add to wet mixture. Fold in raisins.
- Drop dough by the tablespoon on baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven and let completely cool before applying icing.
- To make the eggnog icing simply add 4 parts powdered sugar to 1 part eggnog. In this case, 1 tablespoon of eggnog to 4 cups powdered sugar. Adjust amounts until you get the proper icing consistency.
- *Tip: Apply cooking spray to inside of measuring cup prior to adding molasses. This will make it slide out easily when adding to ingredients.
I went to bed that night with the sweet aroma of the molasses cookies lingering in the house. It was a restless night of worrying about my parents still stranded in a cold truck on the interstate. As soon as I got up the next morning I called Heather (she’s in a time zone three hours ahead) and got the latest update.
They were still stuck.
We did the only thing we knew to do. We asked for prayer on the At the Picket Fence Facebook page.
And then something amazing happened. Something truly incredible! Not only were people praying but they were spurred into action. One dear At the Picket Fence reader named Connie contacted her daughter who contacted a friend who happened to live in the area where my parents were stuck. This friend got access to a truck and somehow, someway were able to find our parents amid all of those vehicles on the interstate. They brought gas for the truck, food and blankets.
And we were beyond grateful…and humbled. We rejoiced that our prayers were answered and we were overwhelmed by this act of kindness and generosity by total strangers. We still are overwhelmed by it…
And one week later when my parents finally pulled into the driveway of their new home in Oregon, we greeted them with hugs and laughter and a twinkling Christmas tree…
And Grandma’s Molasses Cookies. 🙂
Vicki S says
I so enjoyed your story! I’m baking these this week!
Richella Parham says
These cookies look delicious. . . and I can so relate to your story! My grandmother lived far away from us, and she was the best package-sender. For years she worked as an elementary school cook, and she always saved the empty sandwich bread bags from the school kitchen. She used those bags instead of styrofoam peanuts to stuff into her packages–not that there was very much empty space in one of her boxes; they were chock-full of goodies! Somehow a package from Grandma was the very best. And then after I was married my mom carried on the tradition of sending packages, at least until she got sick. And then when my son went to China for a year, do you know what was the most fun for me? Sending him care packages! Thank God for the connections that can be kept across the miles.
I remember very well when your folks were stuck in that ice storm. They had so many people praying for them! What a great testimony.
Rebecca Turner says
Such a great story! My eyes are filled with tears!
Cindy Barganier says
That made me cry. So sweet and I am beginning to feel that wistfulness as my parents age.
I remember when you posted about them being stuck two years ago. Nummy looking cookies. I have so many fond memories of my moms baking…was just looking up a recipe for my older sister yesterday. My grandmothers were amazing bakers too.
Blessings to you and your family as you remember those you cherish and create new memories this holiday season.
Carol Reddin says
Still remember with gratitude the couple who helped us with gasoline and food while stuck on that highway in Texas. It was an amazing gift to us as well as all the prayers from so many people we didn’t even know. One of the best treasures I have is Grandma Kaiser’s recipe box with all our favorite recipes (especially Molasses Cookies). Thanks for the reminder, Vanessa, of the truly important things in life to remember and cherish!
What a precious memory on different levels. The box. My sister packed one for all of us. We were so much younger and our grandparents were all gone. Oh I loved putting all the packages under the tree But then just a little bit ago. In October we had a 200+ vehicle involved in a mudslide of deep mud that slid off the mountain onto cars, big rigs and my husband on an Amtrak bus. It was surreal. No one could get to them and they could not leave. Our city was busy reporting on mudslides leading into LA and CNN was giving me info I needed. But after 21 hours my husband and every single person was safe. Not one person was injured despite crashing into the bus from the side and then head on. And others the same. Big rigs buried. A miracle which I felt was a gift from God. But I realize now that nothing will ever be the same for me and my solid Christmas traditions, everything was out of the norm that first Christmas too. That’s why I need my Savior!! To help me in all these changes.