Normally, I am not much of a baker. Make that: normally, I never bake at all.
I’m crummy with pies. I’m lousy with cakes. If I have a hankering for a cookie, I’ll buy a bag of Dad’s.
It was ever thus in our household. When the kids were at after-school play dates, they’d be offered brownies fresh out of the oven. When the play dates were at our place, Cheez Whiz and crackers would be the snack of the day.
The kids preferred the brownies.
Around this time of year, however, the kids would have a different mother. For two or three weeks every December, they would come home from school, only to find their mother wearing a flour-covered apron, the kitchen a sweet-smelling dream.
They would be incredulous. Instead of plating the Cheez Whiz and Ritz, I’d hand them glazed thimble cookies and white chocolate cherry bark.
If ever they wondered what had happened to me, they never thought to ask, perhaps because they were worried the question would prompt me to remember that baking wasn’t my thing.
And it wasn’t — except just before Christmas.
I am not sure what happens, but it’s happening again.
No idea what triggers this, but I suspect it may be the tubs of red and green cherries I spy in the baking aisle, or the bins of slivered pecans and tiny candy canes I find in the bulk foods.
“Come on!” they seem to be saying to me. “Buy us! You know it’s time for Christmas baking!”
And so it begins. I will be instantly transformed from a non-baker into a baking mad woman, whipping up the goodies non-stop. It will be as if I am imagining that the state of California will be visiting over the holidays, which, of course, it never does.
“What are you making today?” the husband might ask, looking vainly for a two-inch space of countertop on which to place his coffee cup.
“Shortbread,” I will say, wiping my brow with the back of my hand. “Gingerbread sticks. And double chocolate peppermint cookies.”
“Don’t we still have some of those in the freezer from last year?” the husband will ask.
“I have no idea,” I said. “Can you hand me that wooden spoon, please?”
There are, of course, plenty of things we do only in December. We haul a tree into the house and wrap it in tinsel. We pull out twinkling lights and hang them from the eaves. We get the giant socks, stuff them with goodies and tack them to the mantel.
And so it is with the baking thing, at least where I’m concerned.
Right now, I’m going crazy. Next month, it’s back to Dad’s.