Christmas Tree Decorating - With the Hardest Cookies on the Planet!
by Liliana Kordus
Look - Don't Eat!
Christmas time, that's the most wonderful and magic time for me. I'm from Poland, and Christmas is very traditional in my country. We decorate the whole house.
I have so many good memories from when I was a kid, they make me smile every time I think about it. Even the thing about the cookies makes me smile these days.
Me and my brothers used to make most of the Christmas tree decoration ourselves. We made straw stars and rose-hip garlands. There were lots of roses around the village, and rose-hips were really easy to find in the winter. We pulled them on thread and then decorated the Christmas tree with a red garland.
We also had cookies and walnuts on our Christmas tree. We painted some of the nuts gold (like you did on your page about homemade Christmas tree decorations).
But the cookies, that was my Grandmother's job. They were very, very special cookies, and my Grandmother made them every year. She used honey, burnt sugar and some ginger in them, and she decorated them with icing, chocolate and colored sugar bits (I think you call them "hundreds and thousands" in England).
You must know that in the mid-80s in Poland, sweets weren't easy to get. My Mom had to wait at the shops for hours and hours to buy chocolate or fruit. And there was never enough for everyone. Sometimes only the first half of the people got their ration, and the others went home with nothing.
So at Christmas, we children were really hungry for sweets. But the cookies that our Babcia made, they were as hard as stone! They looked very nice on the Christmas tree, but they were dangerous for your teeth. You had to dunk them in tea for a long time before you could risk a bite. Babcia kept them in tin boxes, and after about three weeks they were nice and soft. That's three weeks after Christmas!
Now I can smile about it, but at the time it wasn't funny. There was the Christmas tree with the cookie decoration on it. You could see the cookies, you could smell the cookies, but you couldn't eat them.
I've often wondered if maybe Grandmother had the wrong cookie recipe - or did she do it on purpose to make sure we kids wouldn't nick the Christmas tree decoration? Whatever it was, it worked. Our Christmas tree always stayed complete until the end of the holidays!