Dec 5, 2017


I was thinking earlier today...... remembering Christmas in Panama, yes Christmas when I was a kid in tropical, hot, green, lush, Panama. This was back in the late 1960's when I was 10, 11 years old, before we moved to the US in August of 1970. 

Immediately I thought of cookies, specifically Sandies ! 

Amazing how a memory of cookies, the touch, the smell, the texture, colors, and especially the taste came back front and center; the movie reel in my head drawing from seared images and smells somewhere deep in the limbic system of my brain, and I recalled and remembered especially, Pecan Sandies. 

Not Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies, not Russian Tea Cookies... memories of Pecan Sandies, made each and every holiday season by my MOM and all the Arosemena kids and the Jacome kids, the Correa kids, the Nachio's.

Our MOM, the KOOL AID Mom of Altos del Golf, and every year we had a day of baking and fun and baking and more fun and the best cookies were always the sugar cookies and the Pecan Sandies ! Everyone in the neighborhood looked forward to this day.  

The Pecan Sandies are so so special.  Have you had them before ? 

Puff clouds of butter, powered sugar, flour, vanilla, pecans and love love love.  I remember we made batches and batches of sugar cookies, all shapes: trees, ornaments, stars.  

The Pecan Sandies were extra special and had to be put in a rectangular tupperware, the cookies layered ever so gently with sheets of wax paper diving the layers.  And we had to save these, we could not eat them as readily and as often as the sugar cookies.  My Mom also made Rum Balls, those I did not like at all because of the taste of the rum.  

My Mom shaped the Pecan Sandies like mini footballs.  And they literally melted in your mouth when you ate them. I remember relishing the delicate sweetness of the powered sugar and always considering the pecans a surprise.  

It's curious the power of memories. 

How I can close my eyes and transport myself visually and emotionally to a different place and time in my life, like it was yesterday.  Memories that sustain me, memories that validate and confirm the legacy of all those who invested and influenced and helped shape my life.  These cookies I'm remembering, that was 50 years ago. 

Perhaps the memories of MOM are sharper and more vivid because we had her in our lives for such a short time.  In May of 1974, four years after we moved to the US, she lost her battle to cancer. She was 45 years old. 

I may decide to go out on a limb before the end of the year, borrow a mixer from my sister or one of my neighbors and make a batch or two of Pecan Sandies. I will let you know how they turn out. 

The other vivid memory specific to Christmas in Panama was the most awesome gift I remember we all got one year.  My Mom's sister, Aunt Arleen was married to Walter Sparrow and he ran a car dealership in Greely, Colorado. 

Not sure the brand of cars sold, probably GM or Ford and because of his association with the car company, we got the most amazing, huge, slot car race track. 

A race track that took up 10 or 15 feet in our living room, the track had two lanes, so 2 cars raced and they were powered by electricity. The cars fit in the palm of your hand, they were made of metal or hard plastic, they actually made racing sounds, if you raced them too fast around the curves they would fly off the track.  The whole set up was awesome and it was a surprise.  We had no idea we were getting this awesome race track. 

I remember it came in a huge box, as soon as we opened we built the track, put the pieces together and raced the cars for hours and hours. I dont recall how the box was shipped to Panama, maybe via the Canal Zone, our MOM used to work in the Canal Zone. 

The race track looked somewhat like the photo below. These old sets are now collectors items and complete functioning sets go for hundred and hundred of dollars on eBay.