Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

This year our daughter sat on Santa’s lap for the first time. When he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she replied happily, “cookies”.

Santa chuckled.

She has consistently replied “cookies” every time my husband and I have asked her what she wants Santa to bring her for Christmas. We have commented repeatedly that Santa is getting off easy this year, although it looks like Santa might not get to enjoy his milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, given our daughter’s apparent cookie monster tendencies.

I decided to get a little more detail on the desired cookies, just to make sure that Santa gets it right.

“What kind of cookies?”


“What shape? Christmas trees? Stars?”

“No. Octagons. Santa brings chocolate octagon cookies.”

And that has remained the answer, consistently.

So Santa’s elves are now busy searching the workshop for an octagon cookie cutter, and Santa is thinking that perhaps this cookie request may not be the walk in the park that it seemed at first glance.

Santa thought about the Little Debbie chocolate Christmas cakes, but they are hexagons, not octagons, and they aren’t cookies. Accuracy and detail are important in this science-minded family.

So the search for the octagon cookie cutter has begun, and Mrs. Claus is scouring cookie recipes for the perfect chocolate cookie that can be rolled out and cut into hexagons. She’s also scouring the calendar for the free time to the requested chocolate octagon cookies.

I suspect this innocent request from our daughter has launched a family tradition—an octagon cookie cutter that will have to remain hidden all year; chocolate octagon Christmas cookies that Santa brings each year and leaves under the tree or in the stocking, perhaps on a red or green octagon-shaped plate; and a Christmas breakfast that consists of cookies and milk. Mrs. Claus is thinking that chocolate oatmeal cookies might be appropriate.

Every family has its quirky traditions. I have a friend who always has a Christmas “snake” under the tree—a snake made of wrapped up socks for the family members. When I was growing up our Christmas trees were always live, balled and burlapped, and part of the fun of Christmas was planting the Christmas tree at the end of the season. Every year we could look at the previous years’ trees and tell stories about previous Christmases.

Our Christmas tree is filled with ornaments that reflect my family, my husband’s family and now our own family, with ones made for us by Elena at school or made for Elena by her teachers. Decorating the tree with these ornaments every year is a tradition, each one with a story that we will tell and remember.

That’s part of what Christmas is about, remembering who you are, where you came from, the people who love you and the gifts of your heritage. And, if part of that heritage is a recipe for chocolate octagon Christmas cookies passed down through the years, great.

© 2009 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

10 thoughts on “Quirky Christmas Traditions

  1. Dad says:

    You could ask Dad to make one

  2. Alice says:

    She looks quite young, so I’m really curious how she learned the word Octagon. It would be wonderful if she can retain this innocence throughout childhood. And it would be wonderful if all parents–and Santa–were as diligent in getting just the thing she asked for. How validating for her even at her young age. That’s good parenting! Happy holidays to you all!!!!

    1. Michele Arduengo says:

      Hi Alice,

      Actually octagon is one of the first shapes that she learned. She had a teacher in the 2-yr preschool that was always pointing out stop signs and saying “octagon”, and her Dad and I reinforced that.

      And yes, I hope she always retains some of that innocence for the rest of her life.


  3. Alan says:

    You should know that snake does not always have socks…one year it had some very nice Cutco steak knives inside it. So that year it was a potenatially biting snake that fortunately drew no blood!

    1. Michele Arduengo says:

      Hi Alan,

      And…from what I understand it’s not always a snake. Last year a crab, and perhaps this year a clam. Next year…an octopus?


      1. Kelly Grooms says:

        Shhh Michele,
        No giving away future plans!

  4. sylviamorice says:

    This Christmas my heart is filled with sadness, and I have not yet put up my tree; I’m not even certain that I will. Sometimes, unfortunately, Chirstmas means just trying to make it through the holidays without the person you love. But for everyone living a ‘normal’ year, I hope this Christmas season brings you peace and contentment.

    1. Michele Arduengo says:

      Hello Sylvia,

      I am sorry to hear that you are feeling so sad. Between the enforced jollity, the long dark nights, the cold temps, this time of year can be really rough if your heart needs a boost. Christmas is more than trees and lights and rampant celebrations. It is Joy, and joy is a complex emotion that captures much more than happiness and has an “edge” of sadness in it. I hope that you can find some solace and comfort—a quiet cup of tea, some warm socks and a good book.

      1. sylviamorice says:

        Hi Michelle–sorry that I didn’t explain myself–my husband/soul mate passed away unexpectedly Dec 13, and my world has collapsed. I am fortunate to have our two loving children (adults now) and wonderful family and friends with me, but I still feel so alone, and sad. I know this is normal and expected, but somehow that knowledge doesn’t help me in the middle of the night.
        But I do hope you have a peaceful Christmas and enjoy your little girl. Thanks for listening to me.

      2. Michele Arduengo says:

        Oh, Sylvia I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine how difficult this must be for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your children.


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