A Cookie Exchange Party for Christmas seems like a natural forum for my baking habit. Each person brings 6-8 dozen cookies, wraps them by the dozen and exchanges them.
When someone tells me to do something rather than it being my idea (even baking cookies), I rebel like a pubescent 13 year-old girl.
One year, I turned into such A Rebel — Without A Cookie.
The coordinator of the exchange gave me too many rules.
1. No store bought cookies.
2. No Chocolate Chip cookies. (Unfortunately, that’s my speciality. I have perfected a recipe since I was the above mentioned 9 year-old. These are the cookies that I send to my son who’s now in college.)
3. No Slice and Bake cookies.
4. Someone has to be the Buckeye Lady every year. (These are chocolate covered peanut butter balls. Little bits of heaven, really.)
However, these were tough times for this baker. My kids were 11, 9, 5 and 1 1/2. I barely got showers, people fed and my house cleaned. This was also the year I was assigned to be “The Buckeye Lady” by a well-meaning, control-driven, one-person cookie committee. This wouldn’t be a big deal, though. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. Easy.
I can bake. I may not be able to keep a house spit-spot clean, but I can bake like no tomorrow.
Then math happened. Math has always betrayed me. This time it threatened the core of my baking identity.
8 dozen cookies = 96 individually rolled, dipped, drops of dough + 4 children under the age of 12 = (feels like) 800 dozen Buckeyes.
I just couldn’t do it.
As the cookie exchange grew nearer, I decided I would just fake illness and hang my head in shame. Then, a miracle occurred a few days before the party. When I was exhausted and could not think about preparing dinner for my family of six, I pulled the biggest Mommy copout in my frazzled mind: I took everyone to Cracker Barrel for dinner. In the check out line, my soul was saved. Not by Jesus. That was much earlier in life. My cookie soul. My rebellious, cookie baker soul.
I saw a glass domed cake dish with delicately stacked—–Buckeyes. All dipped. All pretty. All done.
“May I please have 8 dozen Buckeyes?” I quietly asked the cashier.
“I don’t know if we have that many. Let me check,” she offered.
Heaven’s angels sang and its martyrs wept as she declared… “Why, yes we do. How would you like them wrapped?”
“I’ll just take them. I’ll take them all,” I said, realizing I was free.
- Yes, they were store bought.
- No, they weren’t my incredible melt-in-your-mouth-amazing-chocolate chip cookies.
- No, they were not sliced. Or baked for that matter.
- And yes, I was indeed the Buckeye Lady.
I wrapped them in red toile tissue paper and placed them in fancy white bakery boxes. I even adorned them with gold monogram stickers. I was ready for the Cookie Exchange. Did I feel guilty? A little. Not as much as I thought though, honestly.
That’s what you get when you tell a baker what to bake: no love in the cookies. Just a sinful, rebel mother protecting her sanity and maintaining her own righteousness in the name of a Christmas Cookie Exchange.