One of my favorite childhood memories is the aroma of homemade sugar cookies permeating my nostrils, while my mom and I prepared for good ol' Saint Nick. My mom and I would sing and dance to our favorite songs by Bing Crosby and Amy Grant for hours. We both had our own tasks. My mom was in charge of the batter and I was the designated cookie cutter; and if you know me, you can believe I took this job very seriously. I had a basket devoted to all of my favorite cookie cutters. I would line them all out in front of me in a row as I contemplated which cutter to use. I had snowmen, gingerbread men, stars, trees, angels, and a vast array of other culinary carving figurines. I will never forget the way my mother's face would cringe as she watched me slather icing all over the cookies as well as different aspects of my own body. I would always walk away from the counter with globs of icing in my hair, on my face, and a rainbow of color on my freshly washed clothing. Yet, the smile on my face that radiated from ear to ear was evidence of my love for the holiday season.
Looking back I now realize how important it was to me that everything was just perfect for Santa. I wanted St. Nick to feel welcomed in our home even if my epileptic Yorkie, Suzan Nicole, sounded like she wanted to eat his reindeer for dinner. Unfortunately my mild obsession for the man in the red jump suit transversed onto the school bus a very dangerous place for Santa lovers everywhere. I remember the day like yesterday, I was wearing an oh so festive holiday outfit, with my matching bow, and jingle bell socks as I took my usual seat next to my neighbor, Jason. We were chatting it up about our weekends and I was meticulously describing all of my preparations I had made because Santa was coming to town. I had cleaned my room, brushed my teeth every night, and made Christmas cookies in order to be a good hostess. I remember as he looked at me and just began to laugh, he doubled over with his hand across his mouth and asked me if he could tell me a secret. Naturally curious, I said, "why of course." He looked at me expressionlessly and said, "Santa is Dead!!" I shooshed him and told him Santa had elves everywhere and if he wanted to get presents to never say such horrible monstrosities again. I stuck my little nose in the air and told him I wasn't listening to him anymore. That evening when I got home from school I will never forget the bomb my mother dropped on me as she revealed to me the stupefying news that Santa really had kicked the can.
I don't know if I ever fully recovered from this shock, but I continue to make progress as the years go by. I look at what we do now on Christmas and can't help to laugh because Santa would be so disappointed. While I have kicked my cookie habit, for a healthier lifestyle and a not so pudgy physique, I still enjoy the smells that come from our kitchen during the holiday season. The early morning Christmas ritual of opening gifts has now traversed into late morning coffee and movie marathons. While secretly I have always yearned for a large family with lots of holiday rituals, what I have received is an intimate gathering with my mom and dad around the TV. We usually have a couple of gifts to open, but we have even resorted to going green and scrapping the wrapping.
I think like many things in life we get caught up in what the perfect cookie cutter holiday should be. The one where everyone gets what they want, the family gets along, the decorations are immaculate, and the food is sinfully decadent. While this is a zealous and a commendable goal, in reality it is not practical or obtainable. Thus, this Christmas my hope for you is to embrace your own family traditions and the things that make the holiday special to you. Remember that holidays and life in general don't have to be cookie cutter perfect. In all actually my favorite cookies were the not so perfect ones, the gingerbread men who had lost a head or the star that had lost an arm, because everyone knows their ten times sweeter because you always remember to eat them first.