A holiday reunion with our childhood cut-up pals
Being the youngest sibling of five in our family was at times difficult for my brother Kelly.
He was often referred to as the baby of the family, but when he heard those words uttered, the normally shy child would thunder out, “I am not a baby!” Unite this with the fact that his older brothers were always doing tasks with ease-therefore, he was anxious to find his spotlight in our home.I was hoping that Kelly would be patient enough to realize that nature would take its course, and he would naturally find his fitting-in spot. As time went by, I tried to humor him by communicating that, as teenagers, our 3 older siblings actually witnessed the folks getting pleasure from changing the storm windows each season. No wonder Mom was always wearing those sleeveless shift dresses and blouses her toned arms were amazing. Currently, we were witnessing Mom and Dad completely content to wear long sleeves year round, install new combination windows, and share their healthy Green stamp collection. (We could now purchase those frosty mugs as well as the orange footstool upholstered in imitation leather.) There certainly are benefits of being younger siblings.
Still eager to make his mark on the family, he decided to forego bricking the family patio and, unannounced to me, settled on making 243 cutout Christmas cookies. He selected for his first kitchen episode heavy rollout honey cookies. Having never baked before and tackling cutout cookies, this was truly an equation for disaster. He could just as well have announced that he was going to bake every Girl Scout cookie needed. Believe me, it would have been easier. Everything seemed to be rolling along well until I smelled smoke. My inquisitive nose piloted me to the kitchen. Here I witnessed Mom’s mixer completely immovable. You would not believe how stuck this mixer was. Use your imagination think of driving a 1976, 10,000 pound Buick Lesabre, complete with triangle side windows and vinyl top, upon a clay soaked construction highway. Are you seeing ferocious furrows yet?
Vast, deep, cruel, floury ruts abided within the rich, stiff brown dough and a small trail of smoke arose from the family Sunbeam. What a brutal kitchen scene. After considerable effort, I began to speak, “Have you gone mad?” At that very second, an image of my Mother flashed into my mind. Thank goodness she was working the 3-11 shift at the nursing home and the hands of the clock showed 5 p.m. We had time to correct this. A mega swig of strong coffee, a few hurled aspirins, and quick prayer came to my assistance. Once I realized Mom’s faithful mixer had gone up in smoke, I had a direct signal to Aunt Bea’s waterworks when Mr. Fix-it, Emmet, conveys to her that her faithful mixer lost its swirl and twirl. With a bit of hand coaxing, and a heck of a lot of pleading, we had cookie dough.
Forever, our family cookie cutters have resided in a recycled red and white large metal shortening can. It was my Mom’s mini version of Fort Knox for cookie cutters. She guarded these like they were gold bouillon, and not one cookie cutter ever entered this vault without being completely dry. She strategically placed them on the top shelf in her pantry also known as the hands off shelf. They were guarded by her watchful alertness. She did tell us, however, if the house should catch on fire and one of us safely rescued this tin, there would be a reward.
The moment we lifted off the secure red lid, our reunion began. Nestled together in this nostalgic aluminum community were our childhood cut-up pals: the large gingerbread man, Santa, the shining star, a scalloped holly leaf, a crescent moon, an overweight bell, and my favorite the Christmas shoe, just to name a few. Some things are meant to arouse your feelings and cookie cutters do it for me. The thought of floured hands, young and old, rolling and shaping dough into lovely attractive appliqus arouses a pure sense of contentment. As these colorful and happy appliqus are later applied to Christmas serving trays, allow your eyes to frame the view because you have just created a magnum opus.
As Mom arrived home to her kitchen, handsome cutout cookies with luster frosting attracted her attention. She was indeed delighted and somewhat surprised. Mothers have a great sense of knowing. For the many years that Mom made these cookies, she knew the power it took to blend this dough. It was not long when she discovered the thrust-aside mixer. At this moment, her emotions were mixed almost to the point of indigestion. I am sure the thought of laying us flat with her black iron skillet flickered in her mind. However, her bright and fair love as a mother kicked in. Instead, she held her corrections court there in the tiny kitchen with her Revere ware as the jury.
Our mistake was stated, we were corrected, and once again the revered wisdom and love of my mother shines thru. She was well aware of Kelly trying to find his fitting-in spot and the disappointments this can bring. She was also aware of the responsibility of older siblings to nurture this concern. Her careful handing of this situation has allowed us many personal triumphs in, and out, of the kitchen.
May you all have a blessed and very Merry Christmas.
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