Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Tale of the Christmas Cookies, or, Anything You Can Do I Used To Do Better

Ah, Christmas.

It's my favorite time of year. No, really. As a Christmas baby (Dec. 22nd), Christmas is my middle name (Kimberly
Noel). And nothing warms my heart more than combining my two great loves - Christmas and baking. Hence, Christmas cookies. I tend to bake twelve or so dozen of them, sticking to a basic three (cut-outs, chocolate chip, and raspberry turnovers) and then picking a few interesting things for variety. This year it was rugelach pinwheels, flourless chocolate walnut, and Linzer cookies. I take this seriously. I start preparations weeks in advance, and bake with the mental focus of a professional chess player.

Granny used to bake. Used To. And she won't let me forget it. And I am a captive prisoner to her baking stories while I use her kitchen to make cookies.

Did you hear the one about how, when my Aunt Rose moved to California something like twenty-seven years ago, my grandmother baked some kind of Italian chocolate-grape jelly concoction and sent them to her? Like three hundred of them? You didn't hear that one? Because I have. Ten times.

Did you hear the one about Minnie down the street, you know Minnie, her husband still has the diarrhea, how she bakes all those Italian cookies? No?

How Granny always carried her cookies in a specific basket when taking them anywhere? And I should really use it, since she still has it? Haven't heard that one?

And how they used to have tasting parties at Home Bureau, and there were like sixty ladies there, but no more because the fire department wouldn't let any more in the building?

My professional chess player concentration is faltering. AND THAT WAS HER EVIL PLAN ALL ALONG.

Because you see, she can't stand that I can do it and she can't. And that I don't do it exactly like she did. Nevermind that there is a fifty-five year age difference between us. This is a competition folks, one I never asked to be in. Granny is the very definition of frenemy.

Eventually she will take a different tack. "Why are you baking all those cookies?" she will ask in a stricken voice. "Who's going to eat them?" She will do the same thing on the morning of Christmas Eve, when I make a broccoli casserole. "Who's going tho eat that?" she just about screams at me. Now, I can assure you that my family has never thrown away a Christmas cookie or leftovers, so, again, the competitor is back.

But the funniest part is this: She won't eat the cookies, even though she desperately wants to eat the cookies. Now if Minnie down the street (George still has the diarrhea, BTW) brings her a plate of cookies, I never hear the end of it, about how incredibly tasty they were. For days, hundreds of cookies resided in her kitchen, untouched. I took them to my mother's for Christmas Eve. When my Aunt El showed up with my grandmother, she pulled me aside and said "She was panicked over what happened to the cookies".

"Well, they're all here..."

"I know. She brought her own container to take some back home in."

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