December 2, 2022


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The Menster Christmas Cookie Gravestone in Cascade, Iowa

In the small town of Cascade, Iowa, there is a gravestone that stands out among its peers in the local cemetery. Instead of a traditional epitaph, Maxine Menster’s family decided to share their love for their mother by sharing her Christmas cookie recipe.

Maxine’s recipe was part of a long-standing family tradition. As a child in rural Iowa, she’d watch her parents bake the cookies every Christmas Eve, then hang the sweet shapes around the tree. Come Christmas morning, it was time to dig in. 

“Every year, Mom would talk about how it was such a wonderful thing to wake up on Christmas morning and have those cookies on the tree,” says Maxine’s daughter, Jane Menster.

Before she died in 1994, Maxine carried on her own version of the cookie tradition with her children and, later, grandchildren. Today, Jane and her siblings continue to make the cookies each holiday. And thanks to their generous sharing of the recipe, others can too.

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