Christmas Cookies and Changed Lives

Have you ever been to a cookie exchange? I went to my first one last Sunday and had a blast. All those treats!  Even better, the exchange was part of a bigger program. The Women’s Ministry at Centerpointe Christian Church here in Lexington used their December event to support a ministry called the Refuge for Women. The Refuge is a safe place for women who want to leave the adult entertainment industry. It’s an awesome program and one that is much needed. Yesterday’s event was a combination of education for those of us attending, gift giving to the women and children at the Refuge, and . . . cookies.

I’ll get to the cookies, but they weren’t the best part of the day.  The best part was seeing changed lives. As the women spoke, I thought of the Old West, brothels and how few choices women had then and sometimes even now. Today we have many more options, but once a person goes down a rabbit hole of abuse, drugs and the allure of quick money, it’s as hard to get out as it was for a woman in the Old West who found herself alone and in need for whatever reason.

The subject’s been on my mind a lot lately.  My current project has an 1894 story line about a crusading young woman from Indiana who goes to Cheyenne, Wyoming to teach school. Her story isn’t pretty. The handsome outlaw she meets is alluring but not hero material. Not at all. She goes down that rabbit hole of abuse and is afraid to go home. She’s about as low as a woman can go when her father comes to her rescue. Things turn around for her, just as they are turning for the women at the Refuge. It was pure joy to share the holiday with a mom recently reunited with her son and another woman thriving in a new career. It was sweet indeed . . .

Which leads me to the cookies! There must have been 50 different kinds, everything from decorated sugar cookies to ooey-gooey concoctions of pecans, caramel, peanut butter, coconut and every other ingredient in the baking aisle at the grocery store. The cutest were the reindeer cookies. I brought Christmas Tree Spritz. They’re super easy. I had planned to bring something else, but I’ve been in the hurt locker with a tooth problem. If it weren’t for the tooth (which included a trip to the ER for pain meds and an antibiotic shot), I would have made “Nana Bylin’s Almond Crescents.”  Just for fun here are the recipes for both.

Super Quick Spritz Cookies

  • 1 lb. butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-1/2 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar.  Add beaten eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add flour.  Use a small cookie press on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until bottoms are just slightly brown. Makes about 10 dozen little cookies

Nana Bylin’s Almond Crescents

  • 1 lb. butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 lb. raw almonds, ground fine in a food processor or blender
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add almonds and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour. Shape into small crescents, about 2 inches long. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar. Makes about 8 dozen cookies.

Merry Christmas to all! I hope your holidays are filled with bright lights, beautiful music, reindeer on your roof, cookies, love and good cheer.

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Victoria Bylin is under contract with Bethany House Publishers for two inspirational contemporary romances.Prior to jumping to the present day, she wrote westerns for Harlequin Historical and Love Inspired Historical. Her books have finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards, the Rita Awards and RT Magazine’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. She and her husband live in Lexington, Kentucky and have two grown sons. You can learn more about Vicki at www.victoriabylin.com

23 thoughts on “Christmas Cookies and Changed Lives”

  1. Victoria,

    That’s so wonderful of the Women’s Ministry to support the women trying to break free and start a new life.

    I think in Westerns it became so common to have the soiled dove with the heart of gold, the truth of how rough, dangerous and horrible those women’s lives were and the often desperate situations they fled from that led them into the life.

    Your new story sound so good, but I better start stocking up on Kleenex.

    Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

    –Kirsten

    P.S. I love the reindeer cookies, so cute! :o)

  2. Hi Kirsten, Speaking of Kleenex, I was editing this morning and ended up all misty-eyed over a scene I’ve read through a dozen times. That’s a good sign! Starting over isn’t easy for anyone, and the women in the Old West didn’t have nearly the opportunities we have now. Then again, they didn’t have the same complications. Thanks for visiting P&P today!

  3. Hello CateS! I couldn’t bring myself to actually eat one of the reindeer cookies. There’s one still on a plate on the kitchen counter looking as cute as ever . . . but lonesome. Maybe I should bake up some friends for him 🙂

  4. Those reindeer cookies are giving me the urge to bake–and that’s not good.

    What a great ministry. Thank you for sharing and thank you for giving us a preview of your WIP.

    Hugs,
    Margaret

  5. What a wonderful event and cause to support. And a good reminder for me to be thinking of more than just the Christmas hustle this season.

    I, too, love those reindeer. So fun. We’ve made Thanksgiving turkey cookies with sugar cookies and candy corn placed around the top edge like feathers with mini m&ms for the eyes and drawn-on icing beak and legs. Those are always a hit. I hadn’t seen these reindeer before. Might have to give them a try.

  6. Vicki, you know I read all your books and you new one sounds great. Can’t wait until it’s available. How fun that cookie exchage sounds. It also sounds thought provoking. I hope your tooth is feeling better and you can have a GREAT holiday now that it’s on the mend!

  7. Your a woman after my own heart, Miss Vicki. Everyone knows my weakness for cookies and are constantly teasing me. I’d think I’d died and gone to heaven if I went to a cookie exchange party. Sounds like my kind of party. I can’t imagine all the different kinds that would be there.

    Hope your day goes better than the last ones. Wishing you fun shopping. Merry Christmas!

  8. Vicki,
    Whoever thought of that idea to have a cookie exchange to support that ministry project is a genius. Was that you? I LOVE THAT IDEA! And those cookies…yep, it made me want to get into the kitchen and bake–that’s some miracle since I’ve been sick for a week and haven’t even wanted to look at food. Now I’m thinking about cookies…brownies…candy. Those recipes you provided are MUCH appreciated. I love almonds!
    Hugs, and hope your day will be a good one. I hate going to the dentist.
    Cheryl P.

  9. Love that Cookie Monster, Mary! Hey, I feel like that, too after reading Vicki’s blog.

    What an inspiring cause, Vicki. These women deserve every new chance. I’ve long since learned not to judge people. We are all children of God.

  10. Hi Connie — I started to make a joke about cyber cookies, then realized there *are* cyber cookies, those internet things I don’t quite understand. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas season!

  11. I love cookie exchanges. I have gotten some of the best recipes at cookie swaps. Have missed them the past few years. A friend who is a really good cook invited me to one this weekend but we will be out of town. Rats! Since we will be out of town until Christmas Eve, I haven’t done any baking this year.

    Those reindeer cookies are cute. I’ll have to remember them for next year.

    Enjoy the Holidays.

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