What I Baked

So far this week, I have made:

Two dozen chocolate chip cookies and three dozen mini cupcakes for the Girl Guide Christmas party;

Peppermint bark and Nicole’s Vegan Fudge for the Brownies Christmas party;

More peppermint bark and more fudge for the Christmas Piano Recital;

Two dozen chocolate chip cookies for one kid’s school Christmas party;

Two dozen shortbread cookies for another kid’s school Christmas party;

14 dozen more cookies – coconut, snickerdoodles, crackles, chocolate chip, shortbread with cherries, shortbread without cherries, soft molasses – for the mixed cookie boxes we take to all the houses and relatives we visit over the holidays

Still to come: sugar cookie shapes, dough currently chilling in the fridge.

I list this all out not to show you how totally awesome Martha Stewart I am, but rather to show you how COMPLETELY STUPID I am.

I was having coffee with some of the other School Moms on Tuesday and we were talking about how we KNOW we should do less at Christmas, how everyone tells us to just sit down already with a cup of tea, how unimportant it all is, and yet we cannot stop ourselves. Why is that?

I hear a lot of talk about the pressure to create the perfect Christmas, but I don’t think that’s it, at least not for me. I do a lot of baking so that my kids always have safe treats to eat when we’re at an event or someone else’s house, but I do not believe they really need 10 different kinds of cookie to choose from. I send Christmas cards but I think the vast majority of my list would be just as happy with an email. I decorate the house but my husband would be just as happy with paper snowflakes taped to the walls and a wreath on the door.

Here’s the real problem: I love it.

I love the baking, I love the many kinds of cookies, I love the cherries and the coconut and the chocolate. I love the way my nephews get excited to see what’s in the cookie box we brought, and delight in trying each kind (that kind of praise is like crack cocaine to the under-appreciated stay-at-home mom, trust me). I love the way the mantle looks with greenery on it, I love the way our family newsletter comes together as a perfect little snapshot of our year. I love Christmas carols and Christmas movies and Christmas specials and I want to play them ALL, at least once, every single year.

I suppose the pressure to create a perfect Christmas, then, is the pressure to create the perfect Christmas for ME. To feel like I have done everything I would want to do for a perfect Christmas, every single year. To feel like life could not possibly BE any more Christmassy.

And on the plus side, it doesn’t quite feel like too much yet, it doesn’t quite add up to more than I can handle – yet – but it’s riiiight on the very edge. I’m tired (did I mention also sick?) and more than anything this Christmas, I need to give myself permission to sit the heck down with a cup of tea. I need to believe that Christmas isn’t about the cookies, or the cards, or the shopping, even though all that stuff makes me really happy.

I need to just take a moment to breathe it all in. Christmas is about peace, too – remember that, Lynn.

8 thoughts on “What I Baked

  1. Oh I sooo loved reading your text! I was you: the baking, the decorating, the wrapping! This is my second Christmas in our tiny (yet adorable) downtown flat. And the first time in my adult life I have not one bit of decorations put up. We will not be home for Christmas this year so it makes no senses at all to decorate it all. But it feels weird! Reading your words, I was transported to a not so distant past and it was sweeeeet! Merry Christmas Lynn: now go and enjoy that cup of tea 🙂

  2. HOLY MOLY THAT IS A LOT OF BAKING. And thanks for the shout-out! I know what you mean. I do things because I want to do them but boy, oh boy, things can get busy. And with you and the food allergies, if you want them to have treats you need to make them.

    I was thinking the other day that at some point we will have empty nests and then what? I can rest then.

  3. I love the baking and you know I bake a lot of treats as well. They make such lovely gifts, but the movies and the 24 days of Christmas and the visiting…. I’m just on the edge as well. I also need to remember to stop and have a mug of tea once in a while. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have one together? That being said I’m getting better at making things easier where I can. I decorate a bit less and let Maya do the tree. I stopped with the cards except for a very few special people. I buy less and shop online more and I get it done early. I was just saying to Mike yesterday that we only have this very small window with them and before we know it they’ll be off perhaps to the far corners of the world…. at which point he politely asked me to shut my damn mouth….. so I’m happy to keep things right on the edge because there’s no do over.

  4. Zhu

    I can’t bake. I’m hopeless at baking, really. It sucks because I’m actually a decent cook for anything else, main, appetizers, etc. But baking? Whatever I put in the oven never turns out right.

    Sigh. If you need help eating all your work… I’m here!

  5. Merry Christmas, I hope you enjoy your cup of tea. This year I decided to sew everyone Christmas stockings. It’s messy, frustrating, time consuming – plus, no one actually expects the stockings . . . but I am loving it. At least we’re choosing the crazy on our own terms 🙂

    I hope you feel better soon, and the holiday is wonderful.

  6. I canceled Christmas. It went from “how exciting look how bright-eyed the children are” to nervous breakdown complete with crying (me) and hormones. It was awful. In my defense, I was also packing up the house for renos in January so it was all too much. Which is why I called my mom and said “can we come?” and she said yes.


    So now I bake a little, a decorate, a little, and I pack a lot. I take the kids WITH me to the locker as an outing. And I send everyone to the rink as often as possible so I can empty the house but leave the Xmassy things, so we can relax in the evenings. Evenings consist of sushi and a Netflix movie, or a crockpot meal with a movie, and that’s it. Simple and easy.

    Next year, I’m gonna go back to being JUST LIKE YOU. (dozens of cookies! you go girl).

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  7. This year, the stress load I have been under since my return to work in the fall came to a head as Christmas approached, and put me in a place where I had to stop and sit back. I was unable to do many of the things I normally do in preparation for Christmas. No beloved, but labour-intensive Swiss cookies. No handmade gifts for the teachers. No careful co-ordination of wrapping paper with appropriate themed gift tags and coordinating little ornament attached to the package. Fewer decorations. No Christmas cards (well, I wrote a few before I hit the breakdown point but nothing got mailed). I did the things that needed to be done to host Christmas dinner with the extended family, and the rest I had to let go of. And you know what? NO ONE NOTICED. They are just as happy eating the simple treats I did make, interspersed with store-bought goodies and ice cream. And my kids were interested and what was underneath the gift wrap, not what it looked like on the outside.
    I normally love Christmas preparations, even when they are busy and hectic, I enjoy them as a labour of love for those around me and as part of the ritual that is Christmas for me. But when it becomes a burden instead of a blessing, it’s time to step back.
    Next year I hope to pick up more of the special preparations again. But I’ll be examining more closely which ones are really important.

    1. YES. This is what I have come to realize – that although they may complain about lost traditions, no one really cares about the little details other than me. So I do it for myself, or I should let it go – now it’s just a matter of making myself let it go!

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