By Dennis Minich
Since Thanksgiving is past and the calendar says it is December, I guess it is OK to start preparing for Christmas. All too often, in the past, it seemed like we were being bombarded by Christmas even before the spooks of Halloween had made their annual rounds. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like things have been a little more seasonably correct this year.
Even though the Hallmark Channel has been running Christmas movies since sometime in July, radio stations don’t seem to have been bombarding us with holiday tunes, the piped in music at the stores were not “Happy Holidays” since Labor Day and even much of the Christmas advertising was saved until people were actually ready to start thinking about Christmas shopping. I will admit that it seems like Black Friday sales have been going on for several weeks, which I think actually defies the entire concept of Black Friday.
I think I am maybe more ready for Christmas this year than I have been most recently. Quite honestly, last Christmas was fairly forgettable. Because of all the COVID stuff, most city celebrations were cancelled. My shopping seemed truncated because getting around people was still frowned upon. For the first time I can remember, my family did not get together Christmas Day and the whole thing was so messed up, I never even attempted to bake any Christmas cookies, (note I did make snack mix, but then again, I would make snack mix to honor Arbor Day, Columbus Day or even Thursday if someone wanted me to.) Christmas cookies are usually a big part of my holiday celebrations. I have about a half dozen recipes for cookies my mother wrote out. Needless to say, they are family favorites. But last year, with no family dinners or get-togethers, it didn’t seem worth the effort.
But all that has changed this year. I still don’t know if we will have a family gathering, but I am going to make Christmas cookies. I informed my fiancé, Leslie, it is now officially cooking-baking season. It really is, it should be put on the calendar. There are three seasons in particular why I am looking forward to making cookies this year. First, I enjoy making them. Second, I enjoy eating them. But even more exciting for me this year, I am going to have someone help me make them.
Leslie has a grand-daughter, Lily. She is three-years-old and whenever she comes over, she loves to help her Gigi make cookies for me. Needless to say, I like it too. But the dark secret is most of Gigi’s cookies come out of a tube or if she is really ambitions, maybe out of a box. So, I don’t thing Lily has ever gotten to help make real cookies from scratch, from a recipe. But she has promised to come over and help me. There is a lot of detailed work that goes into good Christmas cookies and I look forward to showing them all to Lily. We know ingredients have to measured, nuts need to be chopped, icing has to be made and applied, and the appropriate sprinkles have to be placed on them. there is no doubt in my mind Lily is going to be the perfect assistant to help me get the cookies prepared.
Fortunately, we have a pretty sweet arrangement as far as kitchen work is concerned: I do the cooking and Leslie cleans up after me. Lord knows, I got the best end of that deal. But I think I will like the deal all the more following Lily’s “baking with Dennis” sessions. I have not observed it first hand, but reports are Lily might be a tad messy when it comes to the cooking department. But if some batter happens to end up on the wall, some colored icing suddenly adorns our ceiling or piles of flour wind up on the kitchen floor, it really doesn’t matter to me because I know Leslie will be following behind to make everything as good as new.
So, I am looking forward to getting the oven going very soon. I can’t wait to teach my young protégé some of the finer points of baking and see how the decorations end up on some of our cookies. But as I have pointed out to Leslie, this is cookie-baking season. Just because I do it now doesn’t mean it should be expected at any other time. Come Dec. 26, cookies will come out of a tube, or a box, or wherever else Leslie might come up with.