Then we see the covers of the magazines and every single one is a Christmas tree arrangement of glittery cookies tempting us back into the grocery store for butter and sugar. Our kids/partners beg for a batch of shortbread or some esoteric treat their mom used to make. Or the guilt hits.
Every year I swear I'm not going to do it. Maybe a batch of Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread or Peppermint Bark. But THAT'S IT.
And every year I bake 3 or 4 more kinds of cookies. Then I pretty much eat them all myself. What a Ninny.
So this year I vowed I wouldn't do it. I swore to my husband and my jiggly tummy that I wouldn't even buy the butter.
Then The Monster started prepping for the concert at school. It was all about The Gingerbread Man. In fact, a reenactment of the story. She's been walking around reciting the damn thing non stop. Then she asked to bake. I suggested gingerbread men. This brought on tears, full can't catch your breath sobs out of fear that our gingerbread men would run away after we baked them. We settled on gingerbread penguins and moose. Thank goodness there are no stories about runaway moose. At least none with catchy songs attached.
I pulled out the icing sugar, sprinkles, and ridiculously fake food colourings. It was craft time/kitchen time/treat time as far as the girls were concerned. It was a messy way to kill an hour. That's how I approached it at first. Still a Ninny.
The messier it got, however, the happier we all were. Grandma was visiting and happily iced the requested purple and pink penguins. We eventually laughed at the number of sprinkles underfoot, joking that one of us was going to wipe out like it was a pile of ball bearings and we were in a cartoon. My counters are stained and my kids ate more icing than cookies. There wasn't a single tantrum, by them or me.
No longer is Christmas baking about a pile of cookies in the freezer for the guests that might pop by. It isn't even about treats to share with the neighbours over tea. It is about process, the act of making. Baking and decorating cookies with the girls is like Jackson Pollack at a canvas.
Who cares that the cookies will likely not be eaten for lack of enough icing or the wrong sprinkles? They'll make me a little more Santa like, in spirit and with my jiggle.
For the record. We used this recipe from Julie for the cookies. The only change I made is that we cooked them for 10-11 minutes so they would be a bit softer.