The merry old man with a generous heart we know as Santa Claus has a long history, one that dates back for centuries. The legend began with St. Nicholas, an actual bishop of the early church who lived and died in Turkey in the 3rd century AD. Santa – which, of course, means “saint” – has many names in various languages.
For me, there’s a special magic about Santa because my Uncle Bill was Santa. He was perfect for the role – a heavy-set man with a jolly outlook and a generous heart. He first wore a Santa suit as a promotion for Just Rite Dairy in my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri but soon wore it to delight children like me. During my childhood, he made the holidays more magical with a chance encounter at a local supermarket and a Christmas Eve visit to my home in full costume and character. No one I’ve ever seen wears the suits or fills Santa’s boots as well as my Uncle Bill Puett.
I tell everyone I still believe in Santa because the love and the generosity portrayed by the character will live forever.
To please both Santa and Uncle Bill, my mom began making sugar cookie cutouts each year and from an early age, I helped. Frosting and decorating the cookies became a family tradition and I still bake the cookies to this day.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup butter, softened
[ ]1 ¼ cups sugar
[ ]1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
[ ]½ teaspoon salt
[ ]2 eggs
[ ]2 teaspoons vanilla
[ ]3 cups all-purpose flour
[ ]1 recipe Royal Icing (optional)
[ ]1 recipe Powdered Sugar Icing (optional)
[X]Decorative sprinkles and/or small candies (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. If necessary, cover and chill about 30 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Using desired cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.
If desired, prepare powdered sugar frosting or buy vanilla frosting. Color it with food coloring if desired. Spread onto cookies. If desired, top iced cookies with sprinkles and/or candies.
I’ve written several Christmas romances but The Scarred Santa is closest to my heart – it’s the story of a very special (and reluctant Santa).
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