Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Story Time

I'm feeling the urge to embellish, but I'll try to stay true to history as I share one of the Christmas traditions my family has endured for years.

Christmas cookie decorating has held a hallowed spot in the days of pre-Christmas preparation for my family. Always a raucous affair, when I was a child there were bowls and bowls of frosting scattered around the dining room table between heaping trays of anise-flavored cut-out cookies. My eyes would grow large as I peered over the tower of sweetness at my dad and the daunting task of sprinkling colored sugars over the confectionery delights. He'd grimly assess the job and mutter, "Well, your mother certainly made enough this year."

Cookie by cookie, we'd slap on frosting with a butter knife and carefully consider whether the Christmas Tree shape should have red garland this time or maybe just nonpareils. That studious contemplation gave way to less heavenly creations and gingerbread men started to look a little punk-rock, Christmas trees took on ghastly shades of pink and purple, and the ultimate I-don't-care was the "everything" cookie where all the sprinkles on the table were scooped up and dumped randomly on top.

When I was a child, cookie decorating took hours. When I reached my later teens and also found friends or significant others who were willing, we had more help at the table. That help became a significant factor in cookies being finished in a more timely fashion which allowed my dad to retreat to the family room sooner to watch the hockey game, and me to escape to go out anywhere that wasn't my house. The addition of a third cookie decorator was so vital that one December, after a recent break-up of a long-term relationship, my dad asked, "Do you think he'll still come and help decorate cookies?" I have the pictures to prove that my former-boyfriend was a good soul who understood.

Neither my dad nor I are even casual artists but once a year we do our best to create a display of colorful, edible delights. At the end, for all our grumbling there was a measure of pride in the work we did and gladness at some time together. To toss out it out there again, maybe this is what Christmas is truly about. I'll take those moments.

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