What is Love?


It’s holiday season again and I am thinking about cookies; baking cookies, eating cookies, giving cookies, preparing to bake cookies, cleaning up after making cookies, shopping for the ingredients for cookies, and of course, eating cookies (did I already say that?).

As children my sister and I loved to bake cookies on our own, we would pull out my mother’s Fannie Farmer Cookbook and go straight to the recipe for chocolate chip cookies, eagerly hunt and gather the ingredients, work together to mix, shape, cook and, oh yes, eat those cookies warm out of the oven. Years later I would find that cook book and it was next to impossible to read the recipe because the pages were glued together by flour, sugar, butter, time and love.

After becoming a parent it was important to share critical life skills such as baking with my two sons. They would each wear an apron, jump up onto a chair and help to mix up batter for muffins, cupcakes and cookies. Learning how to follow a recipe, measure out ingredients, work and share space with others seemed like such an important extension of my training as a scientist. But most important was the love of the process, being in the moment, in a warm kitchen for hours with awesome smells and yummy tastes and textures that satisfied the senses and the sharing. Sharing cookies with whomever entered the home, when we met others at gatherings, even permitting a little self-indulgence.

Things grew and grew and for years I would take a weeks’ vacation from work, and submersed myself in the process of baking cookies for the holidays. My list had about 30 different cookies of all shapes, sizes, colors, flavors and textures. I had made it a mission to perfect the Christmas Cookie tray, something that I poured my heart into.  The chest freezer would be stacked with cookie containers all of which would emerge the last few days before the main event and then the cookie arrangements could be made on trays and topped off with chocolate covered pretzels, assorted candies and yummy Torrone, all wrapped up snug and secured with a bow on top.

The gift of giving is not necessarily about finding the right “thing” for a loved one, rather the giving of love through the expression of a gift. Perhaps your gift is a kind word, thoughtful action, anything really that is given with the intention of sharing love.

Wishing you and yours a blessed Holiday Season, now go eat some cookies! Oh, and while you are at it here are some great tunes which I love to listen to this time of year: