Dad's Grip on the Christmas Cookies

In the 1970s, back before my mom went "electric" in holiday cookie baking, my younger sister and I would help Mom in her annual Christmas cookie baking. The Spritz cookie dough was squeezed through the press tube producing beautiful reindeer, trees and Santas, all neatly arranged on the cookie sheet to be baked with love and care. Until the year Mom broke the cookie press.

Mom put too much elbow grease into the Presto Shooter and completely twisted the screw knob off the tube. Mom's effort could have been eased if the dough hadn't been so stiff, but it was too late for that. Laughter and panic ran through the kitchen crew as we asked what we were going to do with two large bowls of unshaped cookie dough and Mom holding a disabled baking tool.

As Mom went for the rolling pin and my sister and I scrounged through the drawers looking for cookie cutters, we began to realize the two-hour project would now become much longer. From the adjoining room, Dad heard the commotion, saw the problem and was touched by an ingenuity angel. He headed for the garage.

Dad reappeared a few minutes later wiping off a pair of greasy, oversized vice grips. Once the vice grips appeared somewhat sanitary, he quietly walked over to the top of the press. After a few trial twists, he presented a new and improved Presto Shooter to my mom.

Yes, in the midst of laughter, we concluded it appeared it could work. As we waited with anticipation, Mom refilled the tube with dough. Lo and behold, she was off and running. The vice grips provided Mom with so much torque she was a cookie-making machine. Mom's accelerated production was limited only by the size of the three cookie sheets. The Christmas cookies were saved.

I will never forget the sight of the cookie press with those vice grips attached, hooked over the side of the bowl in between bakings. And the thought of my Mom standing in her clean, organized kitchen baking a sweet, tasty and dainty item with those huge vice grips intruding into the Norman Rockwell Christmas scene.

The memory makes me laugh to tears, both the vision itself and Dad's bright idea to save his three stranded bakers from the cookie press grinch.


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