Swapping sweets

Saturday was my family's annual Cookie Swap, better known as a cookie exchange.

The Cookie Swap is one of the few extended family traditions that have withstood the test of time, with the first swapping of goodies having taken place 25 or more years ago. I say 25 or more because none of us are exactly sure about how long we've been doing it. But I do know that the youngest of my four sisters and two brothers was MIA from a swap at the time her son was born and she was living in Seattle -- and that son is now 24 years old.

(One boastful note: I am the only one of the siblings who has made it to every single one of the Cookie Swaps throughout the years. Which makes me the boring one with no life Mom's favorite child! Right, Mom?)

A different family member hosts the event each year, and this year it was Mom's turn. So six of her seven kids and most of their significant others, along with several adult and near-adult grandkids cozied up in Grandma's new house for a three-generation event.

It was a great time: great food, great conversation, great hugs and great cookies.

The swapped goods were fantastic, as always. I am so proud of the cookies Brianna and Andrea made, in particular. Brianna swapped a goodie called Cranberry Noels, packed with cranberries and white chocolate chips, and Andrea's offering was a chocolate dough wrapped around a Rollo candy, baked to create a chocolate-carmelly confection. Awesome bakers, these girls of mine!

For my part, I swapped the same damn cookie I do each and every year: Christmas Spritz. I've been making this cookie for about 15 years, and every year I consider doing something different -- and have swapped a different kind, the years we've done two kinds of cookies each (when the number of participants has been low). But cries of "It's traditional" and "But you've always made those" win out, so my Christmas Spritz Cookies were bagged up and passed around. (The recipe for these traditional goodies will soon be posted in my Recipe Box. I'll let you know when it's there.*)

So we all made it through the crazy day of baking dozens and dozens of cookies and the wild time swapping those baked goods, for a successful and sweet 2009 Cookie Swap. The only thing that would have made it better, in my opinion, would have been for Megan to be there, too. Although she always attended the annual Cookie Swap as a child, Megan has never been in the same state as the Cookie Swap since becoming an adult ... and I anxiously await the year she can be part of the madness Swap. But Megan did e-mail me this photo over the weekend, which is almost as good as having her and Bubby here with us.

One day Bubby will get to run around the Cookie Swap, nabbing cookies and hugs from his great aunts, uncles and second cousins. For now, though, I'll just take him a plate from my dozens and dozens, so he can try them out when Jim and I visit in FOUR DAYS! <Yay, yay, happy dance!> I'll swap Grandma's goodies for Bubby's hugs and kisses -- the best sweets ever!

And now for something completely different ...

Today's the day I announce the winner of the VisionQuilt Audio CD Folio offered up on my Giveaway page. And the winner is ... ANN! Yay for Ann! Contact me and I'll give you details on how to claim your prize. Congratulations!

And, not to be forgotten, ...

Today's question from "The Christmas Conversation Piece":

Which particular person that you've lost contact with would you most like to surprise with a phone call this Christmas?

My answer: My younger brother, the only sibling missing from this year's Cookie Swap. (But, unfortunately, crazy circumstances prevent such a call from ever taking place.)

*Update: My Spritz Cookies recipe is now posted in the Recipe Box.