The Year of The Christmas Cookie Crumble
by Brenda K Oswalt
Crazy holiday mishaps never start out to be that way, but sometimes they seem to just grow and grow like chewing on a big ball of candle wax.
It was the best of times, it was the wurst of times. In our German household, holiday sausage is always a big traditional thing during the holidays so we have a special sausage of some kind on the table, but the cookies stole the holiday limelight during the Christmas of 1985.
Mom Comes Home
My mother had just come, moving in with us in our small, but hip, Texas town from her beloved state of Florida. She was highly animated, a ball of energy, and had become legally blind at the age of 56.
Mom could still see, but couldn’t drive or read. Audio books became the norm, and it was a very hard adjustment for her, because she had been in the restaurant business for many years and was hardworking and independent. I decided to make a big holiday fling that first year to help her get her groove back.
Mom Helps Out
We decided to buy presents for all our employees’ kids and make homemade gift baskets for each employee. We had carefully bought and labeled the unwrapped presents for each of the employees’ children. Mom threw herself into the task. Little did I know that she would get arrested.
Mom decided to go down the road to the store and pick up some additional wrapping paper and ribbon because she didn’t like the paper we’d picked out. She hopped in her golf cart and took off for the closest pharmacy. Now she went the back way to avoid main road traffic, I’ll give her that, but golf carts aren’t road legal in Texas. I had two farmers’ wives and the postmistress call me at work to tell me they’d seen Mom flying by in her yellow farm cart.
I took off from work and drove all over our town hunting her. No Mom.
Finally, in desperation, I drove home and there she was, sitting in the kitchen having coffee and Danish with the local sheriff. She introduced him and jokingly said, “Clyde, the local 'county mounty' here thought I was an escaped inmate, so he had to follow me home to be sure I actually lived here and wasn’t going to empty out the joint.”
The sheriff smiled and said that Mom’s Danish was the best he’d ever had. After he left, toting extra “for the boys back at the station,” I ask her how in the world she got off scot free without a couple of hefty tickets. “Do you realize you had no license plate on that cart and it’s not allowed on the road anyway?”
Mom smiled that “gotcha” smile of hers and shot back, “Yeah, but I told him I was legally blind and couldn’t see there was a missing plate.” Then she told me he’d advised her it wasn’t street legal, but she told him, “I’ve just moved here from Florida and, hey, in Florida all golf carts are legal, heck all the geezers have ‘em.”
She laughed, “Girl, you use what you have, my Danish is way better than any stale old donuts.”
You Ask Santa For What?
Mom insisted on helping with the wrapping, but when we started opening up the kids’ presents at the party, two 12-year-old twin boys got Barbie dolls and two twin 10-year-old girls got GI Joes. Also, a five-year-old got lipstick and a teenage girl got a dump truck. We straightened it out. Mom had a blast.
The following Saturday morning, which was two weeks before Christmas, I woke up dead tired. And, with a splitting headache after a hard workweek, I located the largest mug in the kitchen and crawled to the coffee pot.
As I sighed and sat down, Mom bounced in the room, announcing, “Yep, today’s the day.” I said, “What day?” in a groggy voice, waiting for the caffeine to kick in. “To bake the cookies, what else?” she shot back as she starting banging cupboard doors and yanking out the largest bowls and spoons. I bit my lip big time.
To Make a Long Story Shorter
Mom had neglected to tell me she’d promised cookies to the whole post office. “After all, they bring my audio books to me and that’s a job.” What could I say?
After two solid days of baking cookies from morning till night, I realized that this cookie list was somehow growing and mom had added the company employees to it also. Everyone that had a pulse was going to get a pail of homemade cookies or she was going to kill us both.
Now, this was Mom's first year living with us, so I was doing my level best to patiently accommodate her high-energy, visually-impaired desires. So we baked sugar cookies, ginger cookies, macaroons, peanut butter cookies, apricot bars, brownie triple-deckers, cherry nut scones, and several other kinds of unidentifiable holiday-inspired varieties, plus sea foam candy and fudge.
This Cookie Has Had the Show
We found ourselves spread out on the kitchen floor at midnight, the day before Christmas Eve day, in a mad rush to finish the stupid cookies and to get them all packed up. We had cookies stuffed in every available orifice – in the bookcases, under the sofas, in the oven, you name it. If it had space in it, we stuck cookies there. As we began assembling them, we kept opening up drawers and cupboards and locating more hidden cookies.
Finally, in the middle of all the mess, I yelled, “I’ve had it Mom! You and your blankety-blank frosted sugar cookies that take forever to dry and the infernal rum balls!”
She shot back, “You got a problem with my rum balls? Take this...!” and proceeded to hurl two fists full at me.
The rum balls missed me and hit Hershey, our fat Persian cat sitting behind me. He hissed indignantly and shot up, knocking the huge bowl of icing all over the floor.
Duke, our 85-pound German Short Haired Pointer, hearing the commotion, came galloping into the kitchen and skidded flat out on the icing-coated floor, banging head first into the cupboard, which dislodged about five pounds of full cookie sheets from above.
He scrambled to his feet and shook off the sugar sprinkles, only to repeatedly lose his balance on the slippery floor... his eggbeater legs pulverizing cookie parts with every frantic attempt he made to gain traction.
I screamed... and countered by hurling powder sugar coated sand tarts, and before you knew it, mom and I had our hair and bodies virtually coated with crumbs, sprinkles and icing, and there were broken cookies everywhere.
It was so late, we fell into bed exhausted without even cleaning up.
My Head is Full of Crumbs
The next morning the bed was full of crumbs and my husband Jim said he did wonder what had made that sticky “scrunch, scrunch, scrunch” sound under his stocking feet as he padded across the kitchen floor to get a cup of coffee. The floor was literally coated in a layer of sprinkles, frosting, and dead cookies. Like Lucy and Ethel, this project had taken on a life of its own. We wound up with 32 smaller baskets and one huge one for the post office. We stopped counting at 2500 cookies. God only knew how many there were before the fight that year when the cookies crumbled. Believe it.
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