Friday, December 27, 2013

New developments.

Christmas is over. We opened--literally--all the presents. HOWEVER: I will not be taking my Christmas tree down anytime soon. I am waiting until my visitors have departed, which is a good week and a half. So settle down, anyone who thinks it should be taken down by now: I am still fill of Christmas cheer, dammit.

Actually, at the crucial moment, I found that my personal Christmas cheer was a tad intermittent. Here are some reasons:

1. No matter how many ways you have made yourself into the Zen, chilled-out boddhisatva of Christmas, you will find yourself kerwalloped by moments of loneliness, regret, and heartsickness. What're you going to do about that? That's your Intermittent Christmas Cheer Syndrome (ICCS) right there, and you need an Action Plan.

2. Do not count on Martha Stewart to help, necessarily. For instance, I made these cookies this year in my "New, Untried Fancy Cookie" category of baking:



I found the recipe in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living. They weren't hard, exactly, but they did require steps, lots of steps, and for what? An underwhelming flavor, even if they did, sort of, resemble a cross section of a cut tree. Which is what they were supposed to resemble. The takeaway here is that I have a whole bunch of underwhelming but visually attractive cookies. I can take them places or give them away, but I don't even feel good about that, honestly. Martha: you did not comfort me in my hour of need.

3. Even if you finish your grades well in advance of the actual Christmas holiday, you might nonetheless find yourself attempting too much. I didn't bake the date-nut pinwheel cookie of lore and legend, which is labor-intensive and cuss-inducing, and I didn't bake the surprise cookie (with a cherry or spice drop in the middle--surprise!). But even so, I made two kinds of caramel and three kinds of cookies, none of which really met the mark, and fruit cake. And almond bread. And the double butterscotch crescent rolls of my youth, a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner, if I remember correctly, and an altogether first-rate recipe. So--that's a lot of baking. One might say too much baking. Or, one might also say a too-quick and sadly-misguided abandonment of the traditional baking ways. One might say: Christmas cookie-baking is not the time nor the place for experimentation MARTHA. Well, whatever one might say, I'm probably going to let the inadequate and unsatisfying cookies take up space in my kitchen until I can work up the gumption to throw them away. And next year, I will make my old, tried and true cuss-inducing recipes instead of new ones.

It's true: one's efforts and failures, of the baking (and many other) varieties, confront one at the crossroads, i.e., where Christmas Eve meets Christmas Day, and one must find one's way to withstand the confrontation, and even to prevail. This is the above mentioned Action Plan. Such as:

a. plan to sleep the entire next day. December 26 found me still asleep until almost 10 a.m., and still in my nightgown until about 2 p.m. It was glorious.
b. cook and eat some vegetables, for the love of everything holy. Seriously, vegetables will not let you down. Good old, plain old vegetables.
c. read something good. I am currently dipping into four books: The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin, Incarnadine by Mary Szybist, Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart, and The Best Food Wriitng 2013 (ed. Holly Hughes). I read two poems today, one each by Szybist and Bidart, that made me gasp, they were each so good.
d. get a hold of yourself, and knock that self-doubt off. You're not so bad, you know?

 

4 comments:

Ann said...

My mother and I realized we didn't have any fruitcake this Christmas. NO FRUITCAKE. Do you have any left?

I loved this post because it captures how the holiday actually feels. Nicely done. And I wish I had a book I wanted to read. That would help.

radagast said...

No, you're not half bad, HT. You may even be wholly good. Sadly, I can't speak for your/Martha's cookies.

Sophia said...

At least you got to decorate 5 million sugar cookies with me!

Lisa B. said...

Sophia, yours were the best cookies I ate. And also very cute.

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