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What do you do when your kids are sick?

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One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to make cookies. I'm not some cookie queen, able to churn out dozens of intricate, hand-cut shapes. I'm more of the "roll it in a ball and dust with sugar" kind of cookie-maker. This weekend is my birthday weekend, and I plan to celebrate by spending Saturday making several different kinds of cookies.

The Internet is a vast repository of cookie recipes, and my favorite site is Allrecipes.com. Our family has a tradition of making cocoa rum balls, so this will be my first year attempting those (adults-only cookies, those ones). My husband loves the peanut butter ones with the big Hershey's kiss in them, so I'm going to try a variation of those. And I have a molasses-sugar cookie recipe that I love making, and it's one the kids enjoy helping me with. I should probably throw in some sugar cookies and break out the cookie cutters handed down from my grandmother. The kids would probably like to decorate them.

There's something satisfying about spending time in the kitchen. I think it's because of the immediacy of baking: you have to be very present so that you have the right measurements, the right oven temperature, the perfect cooking timing. There's no time to be getting lost in worries about jobs and money and icky things like that. You're surrounded by warm baking smells and and you are rewarded for your concentration with lovely sweet bits of cookie goodness.

Cookies will be the big gift this year for the relatives. I have most of the ingredients already and will be hitting Goodwill's 50 percent off sale this weekend to find cookie tins that I'll spray with silver paint to dress them up. Then I'll pop them in the mail to send to my far-flung family on Monday. I think they'll arrive in time for Christmas. And of course, I'll leave a couple samples by the fireplace on Christmas Eve for the man in red. I hope he likes the rum balls!