If Tess had known she would think of him as often as she did during her final days she may have made different choices many decades ago. If she knew he would appear in her dreams, nightly, standing in the sunlight on a pathless mountainside under a blue sky while she struggled, step by step, over rocks and snow to reach him…she may have never said hello. And yet so many years ago, she initiated a simple conversation without fully releasing she also made a choice to make a space for this strange man in her mind and heart.
Tess entered his life and he her’s, grateful for a providential connection. She loved this man as she did her husband without ever really, fully knowing him.
[Boundaries remained intact. Years later when middle age became old age, gray hair to white hair, wrinkles abundant, widowed, and often alone, but seldom unhappy, she smiled when she thought of him. And when they ran into each other coming out of the library, both carrying a stack of large print books to occupy the endless quiet hours’ widowhood afforded them, Tess felt her fingertips tingle, and her eyes moisten. How lucky after all these years that the connection she felt to this man remained intact!]
A nameless night later Tess finds herself awake at 4AM. She carefully tiptoes through the house, her cotton nightgown grazes the hardwood floors and catches a white hair or two on its hem. She pauses by the large window and watches the snowflakes falling outside. Some stick to the window screen, others dance and swirl around each other, as if, communicating a long forgotten fable. She opens the window. The wooden frame slides up without much effort, odd, Tess thinks for such an old house. She pops out the window screen and leans through the opening into the cold night air, her breath mingling with the snowflakes. Tess sees the strange man she loved all these years standing at the end of the driveway next to the lamppost covered in boxwood and tiny white lights. She gladly waves to him. He waves back and turns away from her. Wait! Tess calls. Wait!
“Mom?” Tess remains centered in the open window, her nightgown outlined in the moonlight, her wrinkled body shivering in the frigid wind.
“Mom?” She turns to the familiar voice she cannot place. [Time moves in a way Tess no longer understands. People, too. Once gone, now reappear. Once an empty house, now her daughter is here.]
“Time to go back to bed, Mom.” Tess’ daughter closes the window quickly, frustrated by her mother’s nightly wanderings, and guides her back to bed. She tucks Tess into bed as she does her own children, brushes Tess’ long white hair away from her face and kisses her forehead. Tess does not share with her daughter who she saw standing at the end of the driveway. She would seem crazy after all.
Minutes later, Tess falls into a deep sleep only to find herself on a sunlit mountainside next to a man she barely knew but loved just the same.
Snowflake Sandwich Cookies with Maple Buttercream Filling
Recipe adapted from Bake From Scratch Holiday Cookies Edition
makes about 24 sandwich cookies
Ingredients for cookie dough:
3/4 unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
sanding sugar or nonpareils for decorating
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on medium speed beat the butter, sugar and salt until creamy, about 5 minutes. Be sure to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg and vanilla. Continue to beat until incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour.
Divide the dough in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly flour a clean surface, remove dough from plastic wrap. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. (Be sure to leave other half of dough in the refrigerator until ready to use!) Using a 3-inch snowflake cookie cutter dipped in flour, begin cutting out snowflake shapes. Gather scraps, reroll and cut again. Place cookies about an inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Maple Buttercream Filling
Recipe adapted from Bake From Scratch Holiday Cookies Edition
makes 2 cups
1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon maple extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
pinch of kosher salt
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and maple extract until creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth. Once the confectioners’ sugar is incorporated, increase speed to high and beat for another 5 minutes. Set aside.
Spoon half of the maple buttercream filling into large pastry bag fitted with an open star pastry tip. Pipe filling onto 1 cookie, starting at the tip of each snowflake point and moving to the center. Place another cookie on top of the cookie with the filling and press gently until the cookies form a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies. Place the remaining filling in a large pastry bag fitted with a small decorating tip. Decorate the cookies with the remaining filling making a snowflake pattern on one side of the sandwich. Sprinkle with white sanding sugar or nonpareils. Let the cookies set before stacking. Store cookies in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. Enjoy!
5 Fun Holiday Cookie Links
My grandmother always had a stash of Italian Rainbow cookies floating around her house during the holidays and I couldn’t eat them fast enough. Check out Love and Olive Oil’s modern take on these beloved cookies.
Salted caramel and dark chocolate is a perfect pairing. Want it in cookie form? Head to Sally’s Baking Addiction for the recipe.
Love a good shortbread cookie? Head to Cooking Classy for a chocolate dipped toffee pecan shortbread cookie recipe. My mouth is watering!
Add something new to your holiday cookie platter with my alfajores recipe.
This lemon cookie recipe is one of my most pinned recipes. Check it out!