Oh Christmas season, you come to me laden with cheer, tinsel, twinkle lights, and a healthy dose of guilt. Why, oh why, must you bring that last piece? I mean, I have several strikes against me in the guilt arena already...I'm a mom (strike one-you can't ever live up to the expectations of your child) I was raised in a Catholic household (strike two-oh the everlasting guilt laid on thick by the Catholic church) and I am a generally anxious people-pleaser (strike three-always worrying if everything is okay). See? I don't need the holidays to make it worse!
So when Christmas rolls around, I do my best to minimize it. I have my decorating down to a science. I stay home on black Friday and get everything done on that day. Bam. It is Christmas. I menu plan for each event we host way in advance and do plenty of shopping to make sure we have what we need and then some. We like a well-fed and watered crowd. I shop online so I don't have to spend more time than needed away from my little family during the hectic holiday time. Yet somehow the evil elf guilt creeps up on me and sits on my shoulder. Today he (yes, I have decided it is a boy) is hanging around because I totally forgot about St. Nick's Day. Last night our son should have put his shoe out for St. Nick to leave him some treats. But I didn't have treats for St. Nick to leave. So I forgot. And elfin guilt cackled at me. Grrrrrr.
Then there is the whole baking with my boy complex I have. I adore to bake. Love it. Cakes, pastries, pies, custards. Oh I can bake you a layer cake that will make your tongue slap your brains out. And my son loves to help now that he is getting to be big enough. I'm teaching him that you have to put the flour into your measuring cup with a spoon and heap it then level it with a knife-not scoop it in and compact it. Put ingredients away as you are done using them to make clean-up go faster. How to alternate your wet and dry ingredients when making a cake so it comes out perfectly. He is a quick study and loves to help.
I despise baking cookies. Despise it I say. And to make matters worse, I have a son who adores eating them. I think my hatred stems from all the scooping, shaping, trays, racks, crumbs...the mess just seems to morph and grow. It is so irritating. My mom was (is) a wonderful cookie baker. When December rolled around she baked and baked and baked until the house was filled with cookies of every shape and size. We had cut-outs, rolled cookies, scooped cookies, shaped cookies. Cookies with fruit, chocolate, sugar, candy. I loved baking with her. My poor son won't have those memories at holiday time because I simply cannot bring myself to stand in our kitchen and do it. One batch of peanut butter kisses is all I'm good for. What mom hates baking cookies? My elfin guilt cackles at me whenever a cookie special pops up on the Food Network. I cringe in horror.
Yet my son will have other memories I tell myself. We make homemade marshmallows (so easy-peasy, so yummy) for favor bags at our family holiday gatherings and for our Christmas Eve traditional homemade hot cocoa. He loves to eat the fluff off the whisk. We tell the family story of our Christmas tree. We go to a tiny town on Christmas Eve and walk the streets lit only by luminaries. We may not bake together at Christmas, but we have our own traditions he will remember. So be gone elfin guilt. I may not be a perfect mom, but I am his perfect mom. And these Christmases will be his perfect childhood ones.