Thursday, December 13, 2012

For Unto Us a Child Is Born

Today, December 13, Lily would have been 13 years old.
She breathed her last early Monday morning, after nearly two years of emotional (and health) highs and lows, leaving this world peacefully.
There are just no words to describe how my heart hurts for Alicia, Phillip, and Jacob.  If I could do something - anything - to help ease their pain and grief away, I would.
But I can't.
I can only celebrate the amazing person who Lily was - bright, thoughtful, generous, brave, creative, witty - and pray that I can raise my child to emulate the Goodness that just radiated from Lily.

There is, of course, no "best" time to lose a child.  Regardless of the moment that a life passes to the other side, there is always the first event without her - that first year is filled with "the first without."  Christmas is no different.  But still, this week my thoughts wandered down that path.  I don't know why; it just seems like right now is somehow worse.  Worse than what... I don't know.
I guess it's just this: during this time of year, millions of people throughout the world prepare to celebrate one of the most important events in the history of humankind.  Whether we believe that Jesus was the son of God, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), or simply a teacher of extraordinary historical influence, the story of Jesus is, too, the story of a mother's child, from the jubilation of his birth to the heartbreak of his crucifixion.  But he has become everyone's child - the baby who lay in a manger, borne of the hope of the world.
I can't help but think that Lily has, in her own way, become everyone's child, too.  Every person who has met her or even just learned of her story accidentally can't help but love her and hope, desperately, to defeat this cancer that has taken her from her mother's arms.

And so I am reminded that I can do something else for Lily.  It's something we can all do.  We can - we must - press on in this crusade against cancer.  All cancer.  Colon cancer, which took my dad.  Ovarian cancer, which took my grandmother.  Leukemia, which took Kirsten's little sister.  Lymphoma, which threatens my brother-in-law.  Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), which took Lily.  Until cancer is no longer a feared word in a doctor's office and is no longer taking loved ones, I will do what I can to help others prevent, treat, and beat it.  I will run for a cure.  I will donate to a cause.  I will bake to fund research.

So, I honor Lily today, in at least a small way, by participating in this year's Cookie Week, a now-annual event with some of my food blogger girlfriends.  All the cookies shared this week are part of the Glad® to Give program, which donates a dollar to Cookies for Kids' Cancer for each cookie shared/swapped during this holiday season, up to $100,000 - that's up from ten cents per cookie during the same time frame last year.  In addition, OXO has pledged to match all donations from registered bake sales (through the Cookies for Kids' Cancer website) up to $100,000 as well.  These donations will help fund research and new treatments for children's cancers, both well-known, like leukemia, as well as those that desperately need more research and treatment options, like ARMS.
Last year, my friends and I exchanged nearly 4500 cookies among our various office events, holiday parties, and more.  This year, I hope that you may also be inspired to offer even a dozen cookies; if we all work together, we will see fewer parents say goodbye to their children.

My recipe is a twist on the ever-popular jam thumbprint cookies.  I've always loved squishing down the dough to make a little nesting spot for the jam, of which there is never enough for my liking.
Some thumbprint recipes are a basic sugar cookie recipe, but I'm rather partial to the peanut butter ones.  After all, peanut butter and jelly go together like... peanut butter and jelly.
But peanut butter has been done, and sometimes it's nice to have a little change.  This variation has a bit of an Asian taste to it, with sesame and plum coming together in sweet harmony.

Sesame Plum Thumbprints
(adapted from this recipe by Cooking Light magazine)
makes about 36 cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted*
  • cooking spray or olive oil
  • plum jam
Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Cream together butter, sugars, and tahini in mixer on medium speed until smooth  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add in vanilla.  Mix in flour mixture, a little at a time, until just combined.  Add in sesame seeds.
Lightly coat hands with cooking spray or olive oil.  Shape dough into balls of about 2 Tbsp, and place onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press thumb (or a round 1/2 tsp) into center of each ball to make an indentation.  Cover and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Uncover dough and bake cookies at 350° for 10-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.  Remove and cool on cookie rack.  If you want the indentations to be bigger in order to hold more jam, use the 1/2 tsp to push down a little more while cookies are still warm.
Once cookies have cooled, spoon plum jam (at least 1/2 tsp) into indentation of each cookie.

*Make sure that when you toast your seeds, you keep a close eye on them to keep them from going to nicely toasty to horribly burned.  My recommendation is to use a toaster over and to not multi-task during this process.

Thank you, Lily, for being an inspiration to more people than you could possibly know.  I promise you that I will not stop working to help find a cure for cancer.  You may have left our world, but you will remain in the hearts of many forever, and we are all the more blessed for it.

One of the fairies that Lily drew using the computer,
one of her many creative hobbies.
She was an amazing artist.


  1. Allison, there are no words to describe my feelings toward this post. I'll have to settle for "thank you."

    1. Funny - that's all I can really come up with to say to Lily's family.
      We became friends for a reason. I think we know what it is. XO

  2. Allison, this is a beautiful tribute to a clearly extraordinary girl. Thank you for introducing us to Lily, she was truly a kindred spirit.

    Now. Where are my tissues?

    1. She was amazing, and I'm glad you enjoyed her while she was here, Megan.

  3. Beautiful post, beautiful tribute to Lily, beautiful cookies. So much sadness, but so much gratitude as well. Love and hugs to Lily's family & friends, you included. THIS is why we support Cookies for Kids Cancer.

    1. Exactly, Jeanne - this is why we must continue to support organizations like Cookies for Kids' Cancer - beautiful souls such as Lily.

  4. What a sweet girl, thank you for the beautiful post!

    1. She was so sweet. Too many wonderful adjectives to describe her, really, and too many sad ones to describe the loss of such an amazing human being.

  5. Such a beautiful post Allison and what a beautiful tribute to Lily. Thank you for sharing that post.

    1. Lily was beautiful, Haley, in more ways than I could ever hope to be. Hopefully she can be a reminder of how we want to conduct our lives - with positivity and excitement.