WHO are these people who you see this time of the year who have all their decorations up and their neatly wrapped gifts strategically placed beautifully under the tree?
Do they even exist???
I’ve been seeing Martha Stewart on various television shows explaining how to hand paint your own ornaments, enchanting ways to wrap each gift that will reflect the personality of the recipient, or magical cookies that will delight your guests while adding sparkle to any holiday party since about August.
Where does she find the time?
I see these movies where people have tree trimming parties, and each guest brings a bauble that gets a prominent place on the tree while the happy grinning revelers gather around the fire and sip their spiked eggnog and gleefully sing Christmas carols.
I’m highly suspicious of these people.
At our house, it takes bribery, pleading, the occasional tears, and when all else fails, a full blown tantrum to get my husband Marty and our son Van to get into the spirit of the season. They will put up the tree for me, but they aren’t singing any carols and there’s not a grin on either of their faces much less any glee in their hearts.
There’s huffing and puffing, and if something doesn’t work as it should, there will be swearing. Neither of my men appreciate a good eggnog, and usually they want to get the tree up and the decorations downstairs as quickly as possible so “their” part of holiday merriment is finished.
Once that tree is plugged in, my step-son hurriedly hugs me goodbye, and Marty just vanishes. I’m not completely sure where he goes because the house is only so big with so many rooms but he finds a hiding place while I stand bemused in front of my naked tree surrounded by boxes of ornaments and garlands. He’ll appear again just as I’m finishing up and dutifully offer to “help” me decorate.
Last year he came in the back door as I was stacking the empty ornament boxes and gave me his sad little boy look.
“Awww…are you through decorating?”
“Well yeah, Marty…since the decorations were right here by the tree, I just went wild and decided to hang them on it. Why?” I think he missed the sarcasm dripping from my words.
“But I wanted to help!” He shuffled his feet and tried to look forlorn. “I really did.”
“Fine,” I barked. “Here!” I handed him an ornament he got as a present some 20 years ago that said “Bah! Humbug!” (I should have figured that out during our first Christmas together when I initially discovered that little gem.)
This year, to get Marty in a festive mood, I decided to make him cookies. Anyone who knows me knows the kitchen is definitely NOT my domain, but I figured I could follow directions so I was going to give it a whirl because the next day was going to be trim the tree day.
So I got out the ingredients, I read the instructions, and began. I was very careful to make sure and place the dough exactly TWO inches apart just like it said to. I made my little dough balls the exact size it suggested on the package, and I even pre-heated the oven. Usually, I just cut it on and stick whatever I’m heating inside so I never know exactly how long it will take to get the stuff done. I tend to keep checking every two minutes which of course prolongs the entire process.
But not this time. These cookies were going to be perfect. Martha would be proud.
I kept waiting for the aroma of baking cookies to engulf the house, but it didn’t. I continuously checked the cookies, and, while the bottoms were looking pretty good, the tops were still sort of gooey.
This went on for a bit and, finally, fearing the bottoms would burn up, I took the cookies out and let them cool. Once they looked more like cookies, I placed them on a plate and took a bite.
The bottoms were brown. And crispy. So crispy I almost chipped a tooth. I reread the instructions to discern where I went wrong. Aha! It said an “UNGREASED cookie sheet.” I greased mine. With a spray. These were NOT magical cookies that would add sparkle to anything.
I stood there in awe that I could mess up a slice-and-bake cookie! I guess I will once again be trimming my tree alone.
On the other hand…this town is FULL of bakeries!
I’m just saying… fala la-la-la!