Rules for Christmas Baking


A sampling of our efforts.

Every year- about this time- I think of all the things I should make. Dozens of cookies and platters of home made candy.

So last night was the night. It was raining. Little Sir and I needed an activity. And I learned a few things:

1) I do not like to bake.

I’m not a huge fan of cooking in general but I find baked goods from the store or- better yet- someone else’s kitchen to be infinitely better. Baking requires more precision than I like in cooking. I like soups. Throw a bunch of stuff together and simmer. Taste along the way and add as you go to get the flavors just right. I’m really good at pasta sauce and my pot roast is solid. It’s not that I don’t cook anything, but baking is a different kind of cooking that’s sole pleasure is in consumption. So why not just buy the cake and get to the good part?

I thought I had pre-empted this by deciding to make only one batch of a very simple fudge and cookies with Ikea’s gingerbread dough.

2) Beware of the health hazards. As I let go of any expectation of order and cleanliness, I self diagnosed myself suffering from Baking Bullying and Baking Amnesia. Baking Bullying is this idea that I have to bake for Christmas. It is somehow as mandatory to keep my membership in the good mom, good Christian, good ?? club. Decades of pressure and systemized conditioning.

Baking Amnesia is the condition of me forgetting how much I don’t like it. Every time. So I see the sprinkles and the recipes and the cinnamon and think, “Let’s do it.” And about 10 minutes in, I think, “Oh no.”

This year I declare myself in recovery. I am now going to embrace my diagnosis of Baking Codependency. This is where I wait for the box of cookies from my mother in law and buy eclairs at the grocery store. It takes a village, y’all.

3) When in doubt, you need more chocolate chips. And wine.

4) Do not take photos while baking. If you’re taking photos, then you’re hands aren’t covered in dough or sugar or frantically reaching for the hot cookie sheet before Little Sir does. DO the baking, NOT the photography. The memories are in the doing, not the images.

So that is why I have no photos of Little Sir methodically cutting out stars and airplanes and rocking horses, cheering each one, “It worked! It worked!” I have no photos of our hands covered in icing and sprinkles. I have no photos of him gobbling up the broken ones. I have no photo of the look in his eyes as he tasted powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk from the bowls or licked a spoon from the fudge. (I can feel the baking amnesia getting a foothold again.)

photo 45) Do not over estimate your four year old’s attention span. He decorated three cookies, ate four, and called it DONE. He had a train track to build. I finished the rest, decided the kitchen could wait till the next day, and watched a movie.

Somewhat ironically- though 100% unintentional- it was the movie Chef.