Monday, December 15, 2008

The Great Christmas Goody-Making Extravaganza of 2008

Short version: A good time was had by all.

Now don’t tell me that you actually expected me, the most verbose accountant in the history of blogging, to stop at the short version, did you? No, of course not. You know me much better than that.

BJ came over yesterday afternoon. He came with the makings for chocolate dipped pretzels and the most delightful chocolate dipped peanut butter and cracker concoction that ever existed. I provided the kitchen, the utensils, and the enthusiastic 10-year-old assistant chef. While I was waiting for the butter to soften to make sugar cookies, they got right to work on their project. It was good that BJ and N worked the chocolate dipped pretzels together. I’m way too anal retentive and/or OCD to do it. For me, making chocolate dipped pretzels is a long arduous process of taking one pretzel, dipping it in the chocolate, fishing it out with a fork, raking the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl to remove the excess chocolate and carefully laying the pretzel on waxed paper making sure the pretzels are not touching so they don’t stick together. Contrast this with BJ and N’s way of dumping a handful of pretzels in the chocolate, using a spoon (a spoon!) to fish them out and lay them on the waxed paper, worrying not at all that some pretzels end up with globs of chocolate adhered to them while others have a relatively thin coating, and occasionally two or three pretzels end up glued together via the chocolate coating due to their touching or even overlapping one another. My process takes hours and hours and leads to tension and frustration. Their process takes a much shorter time and leads to fun and laughter. It was good that I was more observer than participant in that project.

I made turtles, with N’s help, out of pretzels, Rolo candies, and pecan halves. I tried to follow their example and be all willy nilly, spreading the pretzels on the cookie sheet without making neat rows and columns of pretzels all turned the same direction. I tried, but I couldn’t do it, or I should say, I couldn’t entirely do it. I had to have the rows and columns so I knew how many pretzels I had so I knew how many Rolos to unwrap. I didn’t, however, make sure all the pretzels were turned the same direction. Also while I managed to put the pecan halves on without regard to how they aligned with the pretzel, I still insisted they must be intact pecan halves and not have pieces broken off of them. Hey, at least I lightened up a little, and it didn’t kill me. It didn’t even hurt too badly. Sigh. . . Yeah, there’s a reason I’m an accountant.

The last project in the kitchen (other than cleaning up, which ended up being mostly my job somehow) was making sugar cookies. I was mostly on my own for that one as BJ and N were trying to fix up the Christmas tree that N has dubbed the Charlie Brown tree. Thanks to BJ we now have a tree that is standing straight instead of leaning like it ought to be in Pisa, and most of the lights are working. Hallelujah! Now we can actually decorate the thing! (I kept putting that off because I couldn’t get the thing to stand up straight, and I was afraid it would fall over. I didn’t want ornament breakage if I could help it.)

All in all, it was a really great time. I had fun. N had fun. BJ had fun. It almost felt – dare I say it – like family time. As I mentioned to BJ it was the kind of time I’d always wanted in the past, but W wouldn’t ever do that sort of thing with N and me. W, being as much or more a perfectionist than I am, would have had to have had everything just so, and would have been unable to let N do it any other way but his. BJ, on the other hand, just showed N what to do and let him go with it. I can’t begin to say how much I appreciated the way they interacted – a whole afternoon without shouting, crying, temper tantrums, major pouting, or anything. What a contrast to what I was used to from the past.

Good times, people, good times.


Cocotte said...

That does sound like fun! I also struggle with letting the kids make a mess, but I've gotten better over the years. And yeah, I started off in accounting.

Have you ever made the mini pretzels where you put a Hershey's kiss on top of it, let it melt in the oven for a few minutes and then take out and push a red or green M&M on top? Cute, yummy and no mess.

Sailor said...

Wonderful, wonderful times! I love the laughter and silliness that often come at this time of year, and I'm glad you're getting a "turn" with that!

Fusion said...

Sounds like good times for sure True, I tend to be a perfectionist myself, so I understand your feelings. But the last two years have taught me to let go and just enjoy things messy if the need be, and that's good too.

Glad you had some new family time :)

Bunny said...

I'm like you - I try to make it all perfect and end up tense and frustrated. I'm glad BJ and N helped you to loosen up. Care to send them to S.C. to help me?

I'm trying to be better. I baked small Christmas tree cakes for the kids and put a layer of icing on them, then let the kids decorate as they chose. I didn't try to "correct" them or "fix" the decorations and they were much, much happier than they would have been. I was too, really, although every fiber of my being was screaming to "fix" the cakes.

Bunny said...

I make the treats of which Cocotte speaks, although I prefer Hugs to Kisses because of the striped look they have. I use the square pretzels (only perfect ones, no broken ones) and place one unwrapped Hug on each pretzel on a cookie sheet. Place in 170 degree oven for about 2 minutes (you want the candy soft, not melted). Take them out and press a red or a green m&m into the center of each.

(Leave them in another minute for Kisses, as they soften more slowly. For the same reason, do not mix Kisses and Hugs on the same sheet).