Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Snatching happiness from the jaws of depression
I wanted to just sink into my recliner and dare Kelly Rippa to cheer me up. Fortunately for me, my 11 year-old grandson woke up determined to make it a good day for everyone he saw. This little guy has a heart full of sunshine and a smile as big as the ocean.
He was worried about not having a Christmas gift for his father, favorite uncle, mother, step-dad, brother and 2 sisters. After trying to get me to hire him to clean "the whole house" and wash both cars to no avail. We began to search for a solution he could manage. Making a gift was out of the question, we only had a few hours to do this. "Could you write out a promise to each one and wrap it up pretty?" We were unable to find good promises he could stand behind that they would enjoy as well. Finally, I said "what about buying each person on your list a snack? Something they can enjoy while they open their other presents? I will put up the money if you don't go over $2 per person." This idea got a resounding YES and we were off to the store. The most fun he had was when he found a sack of coal candy for his older brother who he said has been very bad all year.
After we had secured the booty and brought it home, we found boxes just a little too big for each gift to throw everyone off the track. Each box was carefully taped, wrapped, labeled and finished with the smack of a bow on the top. Mission accomplished.
As I put away a few canned goods I'd bought during our outing, he asked innocently "are you going to bake cookies this year?" As a matter of fact I had bought a sugar cookie mix (and chuckling to myself proud of my forethought) said "do you want to help bake some cookies?" Oh YES! was the answer. It has been years since I tackled sugar cookies and it took a bit to find the rolling pin. We had no end of trouble getting the sticky mess to roll out and then after cutting out the shapes, we couldn't get them to lift in one piece. More and more flour went into the mix. I tried chilling it. Added more flour. No way! Finally, we rolled out the dough onto the baking sheet, pressed in the cookie shapes with a big wiggle at the end and cut away the excess with toothpicks and a knife. By the time we got the 4th cookie sheet into the oven my back was experiencing spasms!
Somehow, baking even this tedious, couldn't dampen our enthusiasm. But when the pre-mixed colored icing in a tube turned out to be be totally dried out, it came close. We continued undaunted, making our own icing from powdered sugar, butter and hazelnut coffee mate. There wasn't a drop of heavy cream in the fridge. What? It worked! We added food coloring, managed after several false starts to get our colored icing squirting out of the pastry tubes, pulled out the sprinkles and started to work.
That was the fun part of course. After a few minutes we both had blue teeth and green fingers and red smears on our faces. We finished just in time before Dad had to take him home.
Some days just don't go as you think they will. Sometimes that is a good thing.