Cookie-cutter memories

These little items brought back some important memories

I couldn’t throw them away. Not when my sister and I were sifting through the household items after our mother died (over 25 years ago). They must have been included in several boxes of things I brought home for eventual appraisal and sale. None of these evoked enough positive memories to be kept — certainly not the expensive fine china set which neither my sister nor I would ever use.

I honestly do not remember setting the tiny cookie cutters aside, but clearly I did. Something about them must have appealed to me. And because they took up no space, they were tucked away and forgotten. Until recently.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve been on somewhat of a clean-out purge. Marie Kondo would be proud. And, no surprise, I found the cookie cutters in a clear plastic bag tucked away in a box, along with other no-longer-wanted items. All were placed outside so that passers-by could help themselves (I love recycling!).

The other items eventually disappeared, but not these cookie-cutters. No matter how many times I put them out, they always remained. Unchosen. Unwanted. Unvalued. Each time, I thought about tossing them in the garbage, but something always stopped me.

Thanks to my Gestalt training, I began to be curious. For the first time in over 25 years, I took these 7 little cookie cutters out of the plastic bag. Why couldn’t I throw them out?

As I held them in the palm of my hand, memories began to lift the haze of decades.

Picture a scene – a mother and her daughters around a kitchen table, making almost thumbnail-size shortbread cookies. Dozens and dozens of them. Very finicky work. I remember cutting up the candied red and green maraschino cherries into tiny slivers. And breaking up the already-chopped walnuts and almonds into smaller pieces. But first you had to brush egg-white over the tops of the cookies, so the sugar would hold.

This scene was a semi-annual event for several years, around the major holidays. Warm and loving times. And one of the rare moments I can recall that my mother and I enjoyed each other’s company! (If you have read my book, then you know about the difficult relationship between my mother and me. And if you haven’t, then you can safely assume that the word “difficult” would be an understatement.)

No wonder I couldn’t let go of these cookie-cutters. Not until they had served their purpose. I had hung onto them all these years, to remind me of some positive and loving childhood memories with my mother. So few and far between.

Of course, the actual shortbread cookies were prime fodder for the ever-expanding binge-eating  disorder that had already taken over my life. But that’s another story.

Follow-up: On a recent phone call with my sister, I learned she wanted the cookie cutters. I thought I’d asked her a long time ago — but she says I didn’t. (I can’t imagine giving them away without checking with her first.) Perhaps I just remember my intention to do so. I’m just happy these little things will still have a home in the family!