I think my favourite part of the Christmas holidays is the light. At the darkest time of year, there is light everywhere. Christmas tree lights, outdoor lights, candlelight, starlight – the light is comforting and warming.

Amidst the many Christmas traditions that we try to uphold in my family (and happily so), I started my own tradition many years ago, which is that of fairly prodigious cookie-baking.

My mom bakes a lot over the holidays and she makes the most delicious sweets. They are the sweets of her culture and in many respects, they form part of who I am as well.

Having said that, cookies never featured prominently over the Christmas holidays until I started baking for real in my late teens and early twenties.

Over the Christmas holidays, I am the cookie tray maker in my family. While I have some old-time favourites, I happily try new ones every year in the hopes that I’ll find a new member to add to the cookie family.

All baking is delicious, but nothing puts a twinkle in my eye as much as a beautiful Christmas cookie.

I’m fairly new to gingerbread – it wasn’t a baked good that we grew up with in our Italian family. But as I grew up and was introduced to gingerbread, I came to love the spicy comfort that it offers.

This will be the last edition of Magazine Mondays for 2012 and I give you one of my very favourite recipes for gingerbread: Gingerbread Cookies from King Arthur Flour.

As I made these cookies, it was impossible not to feel joyful and happy in the kitchen as the scents of ginger and cinnamon wafted through the air. Pulling these warm treasures out of the oven was a reminder that the act of baking – the act of making something with your hands for your family and friends – is part of the celebration of the season.

These are difficult, strange and yet wondrous times. In the midst of all the beauty of the season, we are reminded in so many ways of how fragile life can be.

I hope you take some time to not go shopping and to not be stuck in traffic and to not be working late and to not be forgetting that things and stuff don’t really matter.

I hope you take some time to bake. I hope you take some time to put a twinkle in someone’s eye.