I made eight dozen chocolate chip cookies this evening. Mr. H. assisted. While we worked, we reminisced about all the past years that cookies and other goodies were made in this kitchen, not only at Christmastime, but year around. These are the times we enjoy. They make us feel warm and grateful and happy.
And they make us smile.
Two of our girls began at a young age hanging around the kitchen watching me cook – asking questions, wanting to stir this or that, chop something or create their own concoction. This was not always a good idea.
The eldest took a cooking class at school and often brought home a recipe that she just had to try on the family. I was lenient, not wanting to quash her zest for the culinary arts. So I’d leave the kitchen and let her make dinner, thus, our family ate some things we weren’t crazy about – with all the good humor we could muster.
However, I’m afraid her older brothers didn’t muster so well. When they learned their sis was trying out a new recipe, they’d whisper and laugh behind their hands – and sometimes blatantly whine, “Oh, no! Do we have to eat that?”
But Christmastime was different. They never once shunned the goodies their two sisters made then. The girls baked dozens and dozens of cookies of all kinds, working every day until the numerous tins we owned were full of delightful treats. One year, the largest tin we had was filled to the brim – and then some – with decorated sugar cookies. Oh, how they loved cutting out the dough with Santa, snowman, christmas tree, wreath, and star cookie cutters, spreading creamy icing on them and then sprinkling each with colored sugars and other decorations. They tried to outdo each other with their designs and I’m pretty sure, when my back was turned, some were consumed, too.
Our son once brought a friend for a visit when the cookie making was in progress and the two of them ate so many warm, decorated sugar cookies, I had to make them stop for fear they’d be sick.
The years passed quickly and, suddenly, our son was married. His wife fit right in. She liked to bake, too. One Saturday, just before Christmas, my young daughter-in-law and I spent the whole day in the kitchen making two Santa cakes – one for my family and another for her to take home. My kitchen was a mind-boggling mess when we finished. Red and green icing somehow managed to stick to everything – table, stove, refrigerator, counter tops, the floor, and yes, our hands and faces had a few speckles, too. Clean-up was a major task, but we did it together, laughing and admiring our creations.
On Christmas Eve, mine was the centerpiece on my table. Everyone oohed and aahed over it, but no one wanted to cut it. “It’s too pretty to cut!” was the agreed-upon rationale. We enjoyed looking at it for several days, but still, even after the holiday was over, nobody wanted to be the first to cut into the beautiful Santa cake.
When the uncut cake finally began to show signs of deterioration – and mold, I was forced to pitched it in the trash can. Even so, making it was an enjoyable experience I’ll never forget!
All of the girls became excellent cooks. I suppose letting them mess up my kitchen and eating a few less than perfect concoctions over the years paid off.
This year, while I make cookies and fudge and other goodies, it’s nice to revisit those years when my young children were just learning how wonderful the holidays can be when you share the love with everyone around you.
And I learned – You can’t have your Santa cake and eat it, too!