This humor piece is from guest writer Anne Bardsley who answered our invitation for holiday-themed posts!
Thirty-two years ago, I developed a serious Cookie Baking Disorder. It has plagued me every holiday season. The CBD symptoms range from mild to very severe. For instance, if I come across a snicker-doodle, I begin to tremble. The worst symptoms are caused by the peanut butter cookie with a Hershey Kiss in the center. I bloat right up when I see one and I shiver at the sight of gingerbread men.
It all started one cold and blustery morning in Pennsylvania. The weather men warned people to stay inside to avoid frostbite. My husband thought it was a perfect day for me and the five children to make cookies. I’d had three cups of coffee and in my caffeinated state, I agreed.
He left for the office and I woke the children. That was my first mistake. Never wake a sleeping child (or five, for that matter), for any reason.
I sifted and measured the flour, creamed the butter and cut the dates, I waltzed around the kitchen wearing my most festive Wine is a Fruit, red, sparkly apron. I wore my silver dangling ball earrings. I was prepared to shake them when Silver Bells played on the radio.
The children were no longer nestled in their beds. They arrived one by one, in the kitchen. Each one filed past me with a grumpy face and hair sticking out in all directions. I was forced to turn up the volume to get back in the holiday spirit. Elvis crooned It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. I danced across the floor to preheat the oven.
Oh! It was a glorious day of baking cookies! The aroma of fresh baked snicker-doodles, peanut butter with a Hershey Kiss, sugar cookies, gingerbread men…I’d be busy for hours. Let It Snow. Let It Snow. Let It Snow. I love baking!
The peanut butter cookies were the first batch out of the oven. My daughters unwrapped the Kiss and placed them in the center. I probably should have made them breakfast first because before I knew it, most of the cookies disappeared. Realistically, peanut butter is protein and chocolate has a sedating, loving effect (I read that in some magazine). It was close to breakfast as were going to get that morning.
We were still on schedule, but we only had eighteen out of the expected yield of seventy-two cookies.
No time to worry about cookie count, we were moving on to sugar cookies. This is where the flour hit the fan! The kitchen table was strewn with sprinkles, fourteen cookie cutters, and three containers of silver and gold beads and tubes of multi- colors of icing to decorate mittens, snowmen, sleighs, reindeer and angels. I felt a little warm, working so close to the oven.
Our ceiling fan had a booster speed for days when you need to move the air like a cyclone. The flour was just being poured into the bowl, when I mistakenly hit the cyclone mode. There was a cloud of flour that surrounded us. We choked, gasped for air and opened the window to allow the three degree wind to air out the kitchen. Brenda Lee crooned, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, in the family room.
The older boys cut shapes for the next batch of sugar cookies, while I removed the just lightly browned previous batch. The two girls lined up the sprinkles, silver dots and got the icing tubes ready. They sang When Santa Claus Get Your Letter together, in harmony. Only a few punches were thrown by the boys.
My husband called just then to check on our progress. “It’s going great”! I lied. “We only have four more batches to go.”
“Can’t wait to get home and taste them,” he replied, like a jolly old elf.
“Well, you better hurry,” I muttered under my breath. “The kids ate most of them already. Can you bring me home a big bottle of wine?”
By now my kitchen floor was covered in flour. The boys were sliding through it in their socks leaving contrails. The girls continued to decorate the sugar cookies by smearing multi-color icing together and adding sprinkles. They looked like hippie cookies, not like the snowmen and angels in the magazine. Our anticipated cookie count of ninety-six was far below at a measly twenty–two. I ate two in frustration, thereby reducing the number even lower.
My caffeine level dropped at ten-thirty. With four batches to finish, I was feeling a little un-Christmassy. I had dried cookie dough batter in my bangs and Brenda Lee was stuck on repeat. She needed to go rock that damn Christmas tree somewhere else. I was headed toward the naughty list.
Unfortunately, my two-year-old son had a situation. He was almost potty trained. At precisely, ten- forty-five (I told you this memory was etched in my mind), he screamed from the top of the stairs, “I have to poop!” His sisters went to help him on his potty chair while I removed the last tray of oatmeal raisin cookies from the oven. Within ninety seconds he bumpity-bumpity-bumped down each step, half naked, and ruined the aroma of my freshly baked, hippy decorated cookies. Once again, I threw open the sash to let the fresh, frigid air into my stinky house.
That experience is still locked in my brain. I haven’t baked a single cookie in thirty-two years. I still suffer from Cookie Baking Disorder.
You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Pout blasted from the CD player. I was beyond the pout stage! I’d cleaned the steps, but I was definitely not merry or bright. My husband arrived home two hours later and found me stretched out on the couch. He picked the dough from my hair and said, “Looks like you had a great day!” cheerfully.
“I spent forty- six dollars on ingredients to make a grand total of thirty- six cookies. We were supposed to have a hundred and eighty. That is not a good day,” I moaned.
I might be able to conquer my cookie stress disorder this year. This year I was saved. It was a Christmas miracle! Ready to bake cookies of all kinds teased me from the dairy case at the supermarket. I bought six rolls. I sliced the roll and plunked the dough on the baking tray. I was all alone in the kitchen. I was giddy with joy that I was actually made Christmas cookies again. Just as the buzzer signaled that the oven was ready, the darn Sentimental Bug bit me. It was too quiet. There was no chatter, no gusts of flour, no punches thrown, no sprinkles on the floor, or even a hint of someone whining.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas came on the radio. I longed to go back to those days, our old home, where I had my worst cookie baking day that I’ll always love.
How did my kids grow from grouchy, bed-headed bakers into adults so fast?
My CBD settled down. I’ll be making a few batches of cookies this year. I won’t tremble or bloat, but I’m pretty sure I’ll shed a few tears.