A TALE OF THE SEASON
She told me of this incident that occurred prior to her first Christmas as a single parent.
To date, the two children, her son who had just turned seven, her daughter not quite four, hadn’t noticed how she had been pinching pennies, cutting corners, living from paycheck to paycheck; but with Christmas coming…
The tree would have to be smaller. A lot smaller. Presents would have be fewer. More emphasis on clothes. Less on toys. The usual Christmas feast would be more like an everyday dinner. Dessert, usually a Lazy Susan array of puddings and pies, candies and cookies, would be only her traditional oatmeal cookies. A lot of oatmeal cookies. And to sweeten them, the two children would help her with the baking.
The additional heat from the oven made the kitchen extra toasty. The sounds of Christmas from the radio made the event more festive. And the aroma of oatmeal cookies filling the house gave a promise of a happy Christmas, in spite of…
The sight of her two elves, clad in their pajamas, working happily away, gave her joy and pushed her fears aside. She’d work again on finding a better paying job after the holidays. But for the moment…
The boy’s hand was perfect to form the right size mounds of dough; and after he placed each clump on the cookie sheet, he twisted a little curl on top.
It wasn’t that easy for the little girl. She had to take two handfuls and crush them together. Then tried to plump it into the correct shape. She didn’t bother with a curl, but liked to pinch off a little nibble as a reward.
It was almost time to take some of the cookies out of the oven when there was a knock at the front door. The young man of the house went to see about it. When he came back, he told his mother that it was two men from church. They had two bags of Christmas food, Care Packages they called them, for the poor people.
He said he told them that they must have the wrong address ‘cuz we’re not poor’.
She told me how she panicked. Weren’t poor!!! She hoped she would have time to catch them and get the offered food. But first, she couldn’t let those cookies burn. She quickly pulled out the sheets and put them on top of the stove; but in her haste, she burned her thumb on the last one.
She gave a little yelp and sat down, blowing on her thumb. Her little doctor quickly pressed her thumb in the butter stick, and her little nurse offered some TLC by volunteering to kiss her owie.
It was too late to chase down the two men. And she was glad that it was. Had she ran after the them and taken the food parcels, she would have embarrassed her son. And she would have acknowledged to the two children that there was money problems.
Besides, looking at her two most favorite people in the world, made her realize the boy was right when he said they weren’t poor. They were very rich in what counts, family.
The little lady finished off the after-work cookie and milk and hurried to bed. She said she wanted to go to sleep real quick. The house smells so good, she explained, she knew she was going to have lots of sweet dreams.
The man of the family hung back. Finally, with a knowing smile, he asked if he could change what he had asked Santa to bring for his mother.
She said it depends. If he told her what the change is, she would write Santa a letter the next day at work and mail it and wait and see if he got the request in time.
He smiled and said he wanted Santa to bring his mother an Oven Mitt so she wouldn’t burn her thumb anymore. He gave her a kiss and went off to bed.
And now, years later, she’s carrying on a tradition she began just before her second Christmas as a single parent. Her elves, this year, are three of the grandkids. It’s a sleep over at Grandma’s, but the special sleep over. It’s the cooking- baking sleep over.
Like always at the cookie-baking party, the oven makes the kitchen extra toasty. The Christmas sounds from the radio has been replaced by Christmas sounds from the MP3 player; but nothing has, nor nothing can, replace the aroma of the oatmeal cookies, that fills the house.
The three children have their own way of making the shapes, like the twist of a curl on top has been lost over the years. But not so, the little pinch for a nibble of the dough.
There’s much more baking to be done each year, and the cookies have to be packaged, thirteen to each plastic bag that has a zip lock to hold in the aroma. The next day, the four of them will bring the cookies to the parish school gym to be placed in the Christmas food bags, Care Packages, for the parish less- fortunates.
When the baking is finished for the evening, she gives the children a small glass of milk and a fresh cookie. Then with a kiss, she sends them off to bed, with the admonition to have sweet dreams. She knows she will have sweet dreams, and sometime in the night, she will imagine hearing a long ago voice reminding her that ‘we’re not poor’.
Over the years she often been asked her secret why her oatmeal cookies taste so good. ‘Real vanilla,’ she replies, ‘Real, not imitation! And,’ she adds, ‘A dash of faith. A dob of hope. And a dollop of love.’
Here’s wishing all of you that the holidays of your choice be filled with the love of your family and the aroma of cookies.
Nice tale of hope and endurance on difficult times, specially during Christmas season . It bring a smile, and a sense of gratitude for whatever we have at a time like this one.
I am so pleased with your comment.
I had to blink rapidly a few times to keep the tears from falling. Wonderful take, Don
Thank you, Pat. I wiped away a tear or two when she me her story of not being poor.
Baking cookies is a thing of the past for my wife and I due to our age and health issues, but I can still enjoy the “aroma” and flavor of your post. Happy Holidays, Don.
Happu holidays to you and yours, Mr. Muse, Too bad the cokies we buy don’t have the fresh cooked roma.
We will be baking cookies this weekend, and I will be certainly be thinking of this post while doing so. Lovely message here, Don.
Thank you, And Happy Holidays complete with the tradition of baking cookies.
That was beautiful, thank you.
Your are most welcome, Quiall. And beautiful is the word I have used with your Christmas posts.
I found this Christmas simply wonderful: halfway between fairy tale and parable💝
Thank you, Luisa. What a nice comparison, fairy tale and parable. The mother in the story passed away several years go. I know your words would have thrilled her..
Heartfelt thanks to you, dearest Don!
Happy Holidays to you and yours, GP.
Thank you, Don.
That was a heartwarmer Don!
Thanks, Fraggle. Happy Holidays to you and Phil.
And you Don!
Thank you for sharing this wonderful Christmas story, Don. Merry Christmas to you and your family, with the aroma of oatmeal cookies.
I am so pleased you like it, Jennie. It is about Tradition, something the little ones you start out in their schooling, have thanks to their earth-breaking teacher.
Tradition for young children is grounding, growing roots, and all the good things that make them feel whole. Thank goodness I can have a teeny part in that. Thank you, Don. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.
Such a heartwarming story, Don. With a touch of similarity to my own experience, which I included in my memoir. In my case, it was my “other” mother who saved the day after Mum sent the two men with a Christmas hamper packing with the admonition we weren’t charity cases 🙂
It is very similar, isn’t it, Gwen. I will have to go back and read your book again.
Hope you have a great season of holidays, even if your Christmas is green instead of white.
I’m looking forward to a great Christmas and Boxing Day with my (half) sister and her family. We have done Kris Kringle presents this year (ie one buys for one but you don’t know who is the giver aka Secret Santa). I am so excited about the present I bought for my niece. I think she will love it.
We’ll have four days at my sister’s and the next week she’ll come to our place like she did last year when she stayed a week. She has just become a grandmother! Little Natalia (as in Natale – Christmas) was born two days ago to her son and daughter-in-law.
We’ll all have such delicious times together. I’ve made a list of all the things we need to talk about, LOL.
And with a bit of luck the day will be 30’c /85’f. Yaay. Finally.
A very happy festive season to you and yours Don, and let’s go forward into 2023 with a sense of renewed optimism and hope for the future.
Thank you, Gwen. It sounds like you have a great holiday ahead.
I love the idea of making a list of things you want to talk bout.
You are a marvelous story teller Don. I like that you communicate that love and fellowship are at the heart of all family gatherings especially as they prepare for an event so special and meaningful as Christmas. Buen hecho .. good job or well done.
Thanks, Hugh. Writing with love and fellowship comes easy with the eat family I was blest with.
Viya Con Dios, long time frind.
Thank you for sharing this. Such a touching and heartwarming story… of love, and family. I hope you had a good Christmas. A very Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!
So happy you liked it, Lady. And Happy Holidays to you and yours.
May the New Year bring warmth and joy to you and yours
I was crying by the end of the post. Big happy tears. Life has taught me we only need money to feed and clothe but love and family to be truly happy. I’m glad they never took that care package.
Oh thank you, Shaily. I am so glad you liked it.