For the past three decades I’ve been insisting the family comes together to make Christmas cookies. It’s a tradition I won’t give up.

The number of participants has increased, as our family has grown, and I get just as excited about it now as I did when it was just myself and my two girls. When they became married adults, I still made them decorate cookies, knowing if we skipped one year, the next thing you know we’ve skipped five, and the tradition dies.

At one point, some years ago, I even overheard one of them say to Papa I should give up this cookie-making nonsense and just buy decorated ones. The joke’s on them. We’re still at it.

Now, seven grandchildren later, we’re still at it, and each year I promise not to have as much cookie dough on hand, and every year it seems we still have more than enough cookies to decorate.

Even before the grandchildren could walk, they’ve been propped up at the table with cookie dough, rolling pin, cookie cutters, icing and sprinkles. The finished product may not always look like a typical cookie, with heads missing from Santa, reindeer with broken antlers and half-eaten snowmen.

The cookies are sent home with the grandchildren (I mean who wouldn’t want to eat cookies with layers of icing, more sprinkles than the cookie can hold and made by little people with runny noses or are slobbering) to enjoy with their parents even though Papa and I tell them we tasted them all and they were great (no, really we didn’t, although we do judge them).

Cookie awards were passed out complete with certificates and a gift. I bought four of the older ones remote-control helicopters (Papa said it was a bad idea, and it was) which they ended up having to fly in the garage to avoid doing damage (again, Papa knew best as the helicopter blades did do damage to those who weren’t watching). Too many remotes in one area brought about confusion, chaos and crashes. It was fun while it lasted.

It’s an event I look forward to every year and always worry I’m taking up another day during the holidays for family time. The kids never complain, but I often wonder if it’s really what they want to do on a Saturday night in December. Besides making cookies I insist we play the white-elephant exchange game and have dinner. It’s at least four hours of having 20 people gathered in one space to do multiple activities. I love it but never knew how they really felt about it until this year.

The first set of grandkids arrived and even after helping take off their coats I was oblivious to what they were wearing. When I finally figured it out, all of my cookie-making kids had matching shirts. I was so overwhelmed with love, I fought the tears.

They even lined up so I could take their picture.

Everything really does come full circle, if you wait long enough. The adult children love cookie making so much, they bought the kids T-shirts that read: “Gigi’s Christmas Cookie Crew.”

Next year I’m doubling the cookie dough amount.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at