Alex's Recipes


Christmas Cookie Crumb-Diving


Handling broken cookie shipments graciously



(end ingredients - use break not return for courier, else restyle)



It is an established fact that, in celebration of Yule Tide and gift-giving, many of our friends insist on shipping us cookies for the Christmas season: yes, cookies, lovingly hand-made in the kitchen hearth, thoughtfully interlayered with protective wax paper fittings, and carefully tucked into the most tastefully festive decorative enameled metal boxes.

Furthermore, it is well known that such traditionally bestowed tins are annually placed into cardboard boxes shaped just so, and carefully wrapped with sturdy brown wrapping paper, and securely strapped with the finest parcel twine or modern plastic packaging tapes.

In final preparation for shipment, the wrapping paper is then neatly lettered with the shipping information, and you will observe the care with which the customer TO: and FROM: addressing blocks are written and spaced upon the parcel, being careful not to allow the twine or tape to obscure the vital information from the eyes of the common carrier and package handlers. Then, the final touch: in neat, boldface letters, almost always all upper-case (but you can use lower case with a capital "F" if you underline it), one finds the handling instructions, "F R A G I L E".

Though it is theoretically possible to ship Christmas cookies via Federal Express, Airborne or United Parcel Service, and the thoroughness with which these carriers handle and track their parcels is legendary, there is one carrier without peer for such parcels: The United States Postal Service. This ensures that your parcel will ride to its destination securely snuggled amidst sundry other like packages, containing golf clubs, bowling balls, and bales of third-class bulk mailers and flyers.


When you receive your Christmas cookies, it is always incumbent upon the recipient to inspect the contents, so as to be able to assure the giver that all have arrived safely, and so as to be able to say "but of course we're saving them for Christmas Day". This is the customary way of comforting the thoughtful, tasteful giver that their hand-made gift will enjoy its deserved place of honor on a silver platter on the groaning board, next to the trussed Bird itself.

For all of these reasons above, and more, you need to cull out the crumbs and broken bits, so that only the finest surviving specimens grace the holiday platter. If the cookies baked just a tad on the dry side that year, or, as is more pertinently plausible, your mail carrier was having a particularly bad day on the fateful afternoon of the arrival of your Christmas cookies, it is entirely possible none will have survived intact to grace the table on the big day.

It's your honor-bound duty, then, to establish which cookies remain wholly fit for the platter, and to dispatch those other paltry broken bits and half-cookies and crumbs as humanely as possible. Some prefer to fastidiously pick and natter over the contents in a prolonged period of sessions or days, but, this has the effect of further drying out the very home-baked freshness that makes such presents attractive, and so many prefer to dispatch the entire contents in one sitting:

  • "Crumbs" range in size from single granulars to large aggregates, bit somewhat less in size than "Bits". Crumbs can be compressed into Bits with a deft application of thumb and forefinger.
  • " Bits" are pieces of cookie just barely large enough to enclose (or partially enclose) a chunk of chocolate chip. They are finger-size and can be squirreled into the mouth without others noticing.
  • " Quarters" are those fortunate finds where an entire quarter-cookie has cleaved off from the whole, possibly leaving three-quarters of a whole, but hopefully leaving open the possibility of the fortunate find of the other, missing Quarter.
  • " Halves" arise from a circumstance where, owing to the way dough folds and cleaves in the kneading and baking processes, one entire cookie may be rift with a natural fault line. Due to shipping and handling, a half cookie can be induced to break off by itself, or, it can simply be snapped off when no one is looking. As with quarters, it is mathematically impossible to have a Half without a missing Other Half, or its equivalent in Quarters and Bits and Crumbs.
  • " Whole Cookies" are those remarkable specimens which, free of fault and cleave lines, actually survive the natural selection process to grace the holiday platters.

Be It Resolved, Ye Merry:

To those not in the know, it may look sublimely silly to grace a table with a large sterling platter offering only four or five perfect, whole Christmas Cookies. It takes but little insight, however, to appreciate the loving care and the precarious selection process which made presentation of those few specimens possible. And, for students of the scientific process, it is but illustrative of the methodically obsessive security precautions which Mother Nature must take, if even in the extreme, to ensure the survival of her species.

Season's Greetings,


©Alex Forbes 12/22/2000






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