I used to make cookies for Christmas. Lots of cookies. Pardon me, but lots and lots of cookies. I don’t believe in freezing cookies (don’t ask me why), so I would make these mountains of cookies very close to Christmas. And I don’t believe in storing them together in containers or on trays, so the mountains of cookies were in mountains of separate containers, piled up on the basement workbench—which is where everyone’s cookies belong, right?
I kind of hate giving Christmas gifts—not because I’m stingy, but because over the years I’ve had more and more trouble figuring out what in the world all of us already overstuffed Americans really want, need, can use, or will find under the growing masses of stuff we’ve already got. So for a while I gave cookies. I’d make a list of all the people I give to, then figure out what cookie in my repertoire suited that person the best, and then I’d give each person his or her own bag of a dozen and a half baked-with-love, hand-packed, ribbon-tied treats.
Once I even brought a tray of my cookies to a holiday dinner party. And do you know how many disappeared that magical night? None at all.
For me, this was a most troubling development. I’m the kind of girl who is suspicious of kids who turn down cake and ice cream. I’m also the kind of girl who can barely resist a cookie, even if it tastes bad. So for me, having tray of my homemade cookies sitting on the dessert buffet staring up at me, untouched, made me feel like sweet, normal Marilyn Munster being rejected, evicted, and kicked out on her butt by Aunt Lily and Uncle Herman.
So, needless to say, I stopped making cookies. At least I stopped for a year, then went through a period of withdrawal, to the point that last Christmas I packed all of my cookie ingredients in a travel bag and dragged them to my mother-in-law’s house, where, on the day after Christmas, I baked like 12 dozen cookies, none of which I was planning on eating. Let me tell you, I enjoyed every freaking minute of it.
This year, I find myself at a crossroads. I wonder, shall I bake, or not? If I do, shall I give, or not? On my way to a party shall I bring a savory (a stretch) or a sweet (my specialty)? I don’t know.
What I do know is that Jocelyn, the lovely volunteer director for my daughter’s drama class will be receiving a thank you gift from me tomorrow night, consisting of a Polish pottery platter with a bag of Betty Crocker Gingerbread cookie baking mix lovingly glue dotted to its center. A cookie compromise? Yes. But I figure, she’s a big girl. She can handle it.