Some brain cells don’t die. People think kids don’t discriminate, that they just like sweets. But I still remember the white paper box each of us kids in the youth choir received one year. A generous box of assorted Christmas specialty cookies made in the kitchens of some of the church women. It was more than fifty years ago. I was about eleven.
            I knew nothing about baking, but I somehow knew that these women had put a lot of time and love and skill (sorry, Mom) into these fabulous cookies. Or maybe I thought it was magic. Who knows about memory?  I couldn’t believe this box was for me, just a nobody, a kid! No shortcuts, cheats, timesavers or years-old ingredients. Fresh butter. Exotic spices I didn’t know existed—probably cardamom was one.
            I didn’t know who these women were or how to thank them. I still feel embarrassed about that. I shared the minimum at home and then secreted the rest in my room, to dole out to myself for several days, opening the box lid like we did the paper doors on the advent calendars Aunt Eileen sent us from West Germany.
            The calendars and the cookie box each revealed a daily artful surprise, but the brain cells holding this cookie memory long ago got marked “Keep!”

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