Like many people, I look fondly back on Christmases past, then Christmases of innocent childhood wonder at all things snow-and-Santa related. Christmas morning was the epitome of magical wonder: suddenly, there was a mountain – an absolute mountain – of shiny, be-bowed presents just waiting to be unwrapped. The stockings: filled with a ridiculous amount of sugar and chocolate (the annual clementine at the foot was always cast aside in favor of, say, the peanut-butter-filled reindeer). The fire crackled merrily in the background, accompanied by traditional Christmas tunes. The mistletoe hung in the doorway; when Mommy and Daddy happened to walk under together, the three of us kids would squeal and cry, “Kiss! Kiss!” Ah, Christmas.
And then there was The Event Of The Season – decorating the Christmas Cookies, with a capital C. We’d all gather around the kitchen table which would be, in a matter of mere minutes (a feat that astounds physicists to this day), completely encrusted in multiple layers of icing and sprinkles (sometimes a festive combination of both). We’d sprinkle and frost in a happy delirium, powered by the pounds of sugar we’d undoubtedly built up in our systems in anticipation of the Cookies. Looking back on this, I’m sure my parents were thrilled when the time came for the Cookies.
But to the point. For the past few Christmases, we’ve simply been too busy to set aside time to make real live Christmas cookies, sprinkles and all. This year, I was determined to have some. All my friends did, and I wanted to go through the traditional holiday ritual too. So at eleven a.m. today, I eagerly got out the three recipes I planned to use – gingerbread men, peanut butter Hershey kiss, and your basic sugar cookies – and gathered my ingredients on the counter and commenced stirring, mixing, measuring, etc.
It is worthwhile to note that we are, in general, not a baking family. We make brownies a lot – rather ironic, as 3/5 of us are kind of health huts – but we adhere strictly to the unspoken rule that Brownies come out of a box. None of this from-scratch nonsense for us. (Cookie dough in a bucket? Oh yeah. Hot pretzel kits? Delicious).
It is also worthwhile to note that, as if so often the case, childhood memories are usually slightly skewed from reality, whether through self-alteration of said memories or a totally different perspective. Today’s cookie extravaganza (if one could call it that) belongs, rather unfortunately, to the latter group.
So. There I was, baking away (!!)… the doughs were turning out rather more crumbly and dry than I’d expected but, because we don’t bake, I assumed that’s how cookie dough is supposed to be. I baked on. The first two batches of dough – the sugar cookie and the gingerbread men – needed to be chilled, so I stuck them in the fridge and cranked out two batches of those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey kiss in the middle. Heavenly. My mom arrived home then with a few last minute groceries – vanilla instant pudding included, which I needed for the gingerbread dough (a few steps ago, but who’d notice?) – and asked how my baking was going.
“Oh, fine,” I said, and showed her the dough. The look she gave me made me double-check myself: had I followed the directions? Yes. Was anything actively flaming? Not that I could see. “What?”
“How much flour did you put in these?” she asked, poking the dry and crumbly – and flaky, which is quite a feat, I feel, getting dough to flake – dough.
“Whatever the recipe said,” I said. “I did everything right.”
She looked at the recipes, looked at the dough, and looked at the measuring cups. “You didn’t fill these up the whole way, did you?” she asked.
“No, I didn’t use those at all – I used the little scooper things in the flour and sugar containers,” I said. Her eyes rolled to the ceiling and she groaned.
“Those aren’t accurate!” she said despairingly. “You can’t use them to measure!”
So long story short, I ended up spending a grand total of five hours and forty minutes on these damn cookies. My arms hurt from stirring and kneading and cutting, my feet hurt from standing, and my butt hurt for some unknown reason. With my little brother’s help, though, I finally got a few plates of cookies to frost and sprinkle – the part of the cookie-baking process I’d looked back on so fondly. Now I see The Cookies from my mom’s point of view and have only one thing to say:
I kind of hate baking cookies now.
The fruits of my labor, as it were:
the epitome of class, n’est pas?
.…and my supremely dumb/evil cat, who, throughout the course of the day, knocked over and ate two plants, got cat hair all over the living room (again), and puked on the couch in the basement. Way to go.
So yeah. Hopefully I’ll squeeze in a run later on tonight… or a walk + movie on the treadmill – why does baking make you so tired? Granted, I was on my feet for nearly 6 hours straight, but still… I’m exhausted.
On a positive note, I finished The Idiot this morning! FINALLY! It was really good, though, and I’d recommend it for anyone who likes books. Good books. Long books… with long, complicated names… but yeah, I liked it. Won’t say much more, but the ending was twisty 😀