Like any kid, the thing I looked forward to the most about Christmas was the presents. But my favorite gift was never found under the tree; rather, it was on the kitchen table. Growing up in a household where neither of my parents cooked, food was never the focus of our holidays—except for one thing: the Christmas cookies made by my grandmother, who we called Mema. These soft, tender, Italian-style vanilla cookies were doused in a glaze spiked with so much liquor that if you ate too many you risked getting a little tipsy, then showered in rainbow ball sprinkles. The result was so colorful and festive that it was hard to look at a platter without smiling. Some years the cookies were large, other years they were small, sometimes they were burnt slightly or undercooked; they were never technically perfect, but to me, they spoke of Christmas in a way nothing else could.