I’ve been baking holiday cookies with two women, two very dear friends, for more than a quarter of a century.

When put in those terms, it rather shocks me. It’s a darned long time to be doing anything with such consistency.

But every fall, we set a time for what we’ve come to call, “the cookie bake.”

On the designated day we load up bowls and rolling pins and flour and butter, and baking sheets and spatulas and parchment paper and other assorted tools of the baking trade, and carry them to the house where we’ll be baking.

For several hours we measure and mix and roll and bake.

And we talk.

Over the years we’ve done our share of solving the world’s problems. Pretty much nothing is off limits in our sugar-fueled conversations: men, kids, health, work, spirituality, friendship, and family have all been discussed.

And sometimes cussed.

And then discussed again.

We’ve weathered marriages, divorces, grandkids, job changes, new homes, and health crises.

In the process, we’ve become friends.

Good friends.

We care about each other, even though we don’t get together as often as we’d like. We genuinely want to know what’s going on in each other’s lives and for that day we soak up each detail like hungry travelers.

The deep listening we give each other is healing and rejuvenating.

At the end of the baking frenzy, we are often exhausted from standing so long.

We divide up the dozens of cookies we’ve made and pack them into bags and boxes to share later with friends and family.

As you might imagine, in the span of our twenty-five plus years, we’ve made some amazing delicious cookies, and some clinkers. Some never turn out and others surprise us by being easy or delicious or looking exactly as the recipe shows.

It’s all good.

Around the halfway mark, we make a huge plate of nachos to fuel us. In earlier years we had beer to go with them, but lately we’re drinking ice water. Or tea. Or coffee. Or maybe, just maybe a glass of wine.

Since we started this tradition, we’ve used hundreds of pound of butter, flour, and sugar, which is an overwhelming calculation to even think about, let alone actually compute.

But amidst all the calories and work, what we’ve really made is a deep and lasting friendship.

And I couldn’t be more grateful.