Small Talk

The smell of cookies in the morning

Best holiday news ever! Some sweet soul, who doesn’t know my track record for setting off the smoke alarm, has invited me to a Christmas cookie exchange. I love these things because, despite my love of holiday goodies, I tend to flag on the days of baking required to create all the exotic kinds I like best.

I used to watch my mom do a week of baking and thought, foolishly, what fun she must be having. As much as I love the sweet results, cooking anything that takes more than about 20 minutes start to finish, and — whoa, there — involves a rolling pin, is a stretch for me.

It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s just that I seek an uninterrupted block of time, which usually finds me atop my bed reading. So, I guess I need an uninterrupted block of time and some guy with a bullwhip encouraging my backside into the kitchen.

I believe I will blame it on my pathetic, every-present impatient nature. OK, I’ve mixed one bowl full of stuff and now you want me to mix the dry ingredients separately? And then slowly blend them? Then chill for eight hours? Un-uh. And heaven forfend it calls for sifting! I believe I am a Guinness World Book candidate for square feet of kitchen surfaces covered with flour-sugar mixture. Which brings us to the really annoying part of the whole undertaking — cleanup.

These days, I don’t even have a dog to lick up the spills. I’m impatiently waiting for the local robotics club to make me a waterproof, bowl-grabbing, dish-scrubbing electronic friend to work at my elbow.

I have clearly watched too many cooking shows. I want all the ingredients premeasured in cute little bowls and every new electric mixer/squeezer/roller at my elbow. Instead I drag hard-as-rock bags of sugar out of the pantry, leaking flour bags and butter from the freezer, try to find the cinnamon amid the basil and pepper flakes, and always discover the vanilla is down to fumes.

But as visions of sugarplums, aka shortbread, cranberry, oatmeal, iced, chocolate chunk, pecan, peanut butter, toffee cookies, gooey layered bars and more, fill my head, I am rolling up my sleeves to add to the madness. I’m going for four dozen. If I’m going to cream butter and sugar, melt chocolate, stir endlessly over medium heat and get seriously sticky, I’m going to go big.

What? Four dozen isn’t all that big? Hey, I need to ease into this. I don’t want to pull a hammie.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer double-knotting her apron and dreaming of a sweet Christmas. Contact her at

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