Christmas traditions—I love them all even the ones I don’t like at all.
Let's take fruitcake. I don’t really like it. It is all hard and sits in your stomach like a brick. It would be okay except for those red and green and yellow things in it (peel, I think they call it) but once I pick all that fruit out, it isn't really fruitcake anymore. Yet, every year I feel I should have a slice. Why?
Say it with me: BECAUSE IT IS TRADITION!
So, my sentimentality got the best of me recently when I was visiting my sister and suggested we should bake cookies. I don’t think we have baked anything together in decades. There was likely a good reason for this.
I decided it should be shortbread. That was the first mistake because I don’t think those are foolproof. First, when you rarely bake, you cannot trust your ingredients. The flour likely hasn’t been used since last Christmas. We had no real butter. Off to the grocery store for all the necessary items. One hundred dollars later, give or take, we set it all out on the counter. There were five cats looking on in curiosity as if they had never seen us in a kitchen before. Cats can be such jerks.
Did I mention she is my older sister? Did I mention she thinks she is the boss of me?
Her: “Did you wash your hands? Who knows where those hands have been!"
And so it begins...
I hate to generalize so I will just say sometimes, certain people can be control freaks.
The following is an exact transcript of our discussions over the mixing bowl.
She starts out, “I will read the recipe. Two cups of flour but don’t dump it in all at once.”
“I won’t.” I say with a faint smile.
Her: “Did you know there are measuring markers on the butter so you know how much to use?”
Me: “Gosh, never ever heard that. Thank you for this info, Betty Crocker.”
Her: “Oh, shut up.”
Me: “You shut up.”
Her: “Now, mix the ingredients with the beater but don’t put it on high or the stuff will fly out all over.”
Me: “Okay, I got this. You should go move the cat from the counter. He is licking the butter. Don’t worry, he’s only licking along the measuring lines.”
Her: “You are so immature. Okay, roll the dough in little balls and all the same size."
Me: “I want to smash them down with a fork like Mom did.”
Her: “I think that was the peanut butter cookies but do what you want. These are your cookies. Make the fork marks nice and straight.”
Me: “I want to make them all abstract.”
Her: “Fine, but they will look stupid.”
Me: “I want to add icing sugar.”
Her: “Fine—do what you want. I’m not involved.”
Me: “Could’ve fooled me.” (eye roll)
Her: “Go sit down and lick the beaters.”
Me: “You’re supposed to turn them off first.”
Her: "We are not doing this again."
Me: 'You know we will."
Her: "I know."
Fast forward to the finished product. Slightly dry shortbread with crooked fork lines and icing sugar dust.
Christmas and family are a lot like cookie-making – it is about using the right ingredients, making an effort, making a mess, cleaning up the mess, a harsh word here and in the end the only thing you remember is the sweetness of the moment and the tea party that ultimately follows.