Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Warning - No Baking This Year

I'm not being a ‘Scrooge.’ I'm not depressed, bitter, resentful, neglectful or any other label that could be applied to my lack of enthusiasm or 'tradition-keeping' regarding the matter at hand. It's not that I don't care, nor is it that I have lost the joy, spirit or fun of the season.

This year I guess I’m just trying to focus on the NOW. I have a lot on my plate and my family is growing up, out and beyond my little nest. I am trying to stay afloat among the challenges and changes, and with Christmas only once a year - and the traditions from our own Christmas' past changing right along with my family - I want to focus and hold on to the NOW, without it all being one big rushed blur.
Warning - there will be no baking this year.

REPEAT: There will be no baking, as in the verb, this year. But we will have baking, the noun, in the house, but I just won’t have made any of it.

Yup, you heard it here first. I'm not doing any Christmas baking this year, and if my family is reading this (which is doubtful, given their busy lives), this will be the first they will be hearing of it, as well.

I might, if I find the time, cave and do one or two very easy little things but other than that I’m just….not.

I don't have the time, and honestly – let’s be real, here – the stores make better stuff than I do.

In past years I would take a day off work to bake all day and then spend the weekend (with what little time I had, at that) getting goodies in the oven. I love it – I do – and I would plan, shop, concoct, sort, and scheme special recipes and their special ingredients. New recipes would be anticipated and tested, where tried-and-true good ole stand-by’s would be whipped up from memory. Then there would be the hide-and-seek game, a game I prayed every year I would win by the time Christmas arrived. Not only would I have to hide the end-products from the ‘gluttonous ones’ who reside in my house, but I would also have to hide recipe-specific chocolate and candies. If I didn’t, the yummy ingredients would be devoured before I could even get around to using them, and anything I DID manage to get baked and out of the oven to cool would be eaten sooner than I could clean the cookie dough off the spoon (if I didn’t eat it first, of course). Yes, it’s a compliment, but....

I know it all sounds rather stressful, I know. Some might say Why bother if it’s like THAT? My answer: I love doing it – I do. I love the creative side of baking and I love having goodies for my men and any guests who dare visit my crazy house. The cookbooks and specialty magazines that come out once a year send me into a spin – I love them all and can spend countless hours going through them.

But this year I guess I’m taking a break from it all. The cookie sheets, cookie cutters and rolling pins will have to collect dust for another year.

This great epiphany, or change-of-heart, came during the first week of December. I realized I hadn’t even thought of baking yet – I had forgotten about it all, actually – and time was ticking! I had a slight panic attack then a smattering of guilt fluttered through my conscience knowing I SHOULD be whipping up the shortbread, rolling out the sugar cookies, and buttering up the tarts.

But I can’t. Not this year. I have too many other things going on.

And no sooner did the panic and guilt creep in, it left. And it was for the best. All that hand-wringing and sleepless nights of all I HAVE to do wasn’t going to help matters. So I decided not to let the mayhem of the year get to me, and I cancelled baking. There. Done. Fini.

I’ve run out of time and energy to do any of it, but the weirdest thing is I don’t feel bad about it, compared to years past where worry would have my stress-genes on overdrive (if anything, I feel bad that I don’t feel MORE ‘bad’). Maybe I have over-taxed my Christmas baking hormones. Maybe too many years of sweating it out in the kitchen has dried-up my baking-energy reserves – I don’t know. Maybe, this year, it just wasn’t meant to be. I'm not throwing in the towel this year, as it were, I guess I'm just taking a break.

So if you dare come over you’ll find bakery packaging from the store in the garbage and disgruntled men suffering from my lack of baking.

OR you’ll find content men who are getting much better baked goodies from the store, who are also happier because their momma is in a better frame of mind this year.

I think they much prefer an uncranky, unstressed mom, anyways.