My sweet girls and I are baking cookies. Christmas songs are playing in the background, even though it’s only November. The holiday music is our little secret – we almost always turn it off before my husband gets home from work. The entire setting is picture perfect, something you’d see on a Christmas greeting card.
For about ten seconds.
Then someone licks her hands and shoves her slobbery fingers right back into the batter. And the other child shrieks in disgust while she snatches the bowl away. Tears, screams, and shoving ensue. Someone is nudged off a stool and someone else licks her spoon then tries to use the same spoon to gather up spilled batter from the counter.
“Disgusting! MOMMY!” the tidy one cries out.
“It’s yummy! Try some!” the spontaneous one retorts, shoving the drooled-on spoon in her sister’s face.
I’m squeezing my head with both hands, something I do when I’m trying to keep my brain – and my temper – intact.
Why did I do this to myself? I wonder. Why didn’t I just turn on a movie and let them sit on the couch while I made these cookies in peace?
Then I hear it from the speakers. Christmas Shoes. It gives me chills every time. I stand still, listening, for just a few seconds.
I’m reminded that not everybody is lucky enough to have a parent – or a child – to bake with. Not everyone receives homemade cookies, or can even afford to purchase store bought ones.
Some people have true sorrows. Something more than slobbered-on cookie dough and impatient attitudes.
I’ve had some of those hardships.
Like when my husband and I both lost our jobs on the same day. Eight months pregnant and nearly penniless, not knowing where our next meal was coming from. Then being well below poverty level for the next three years while we worked to get his business off the ground.
Real sorrow also happened when I lost four family members in nine months. And then again when I experienced scary health issues, which have thankfully been resolved.
Baking cookies? I can redeem this.
“Here,” I say to my youngest, wiping her face with a warm cloth and hugging her gently. “I understand. I used to eat cookie dough too. Sometimes I still do!”
She giggles, the tears drying on her cheeks, and offers me a taste.
Then I turn to my oldest and whisper, “I understand how you feel. Being a big sister is tough sometimes. But you know what? I wish I’d been nicer to my brothers when we were growing up. I can never take back the mean things I said. And the germs will bake out. It’s okay.”
A few hours later, after the hurt feelings have mended and the cookies have cooled, we layer the treats on paper plates, wrap the goodies in plastic, and bundle ourselves up. Then we walk out into the twilight so we can deliver our lopsided packages to neighbors.
There’s joy on my little ones’ faces as they serve others and share something they made with their own hands. I smile too, knowing these are lessons they’ll never forget.
The hassle, the tears, the mess? It’s all worth it. They’re still learning. And I am too.
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Link up your own posts!
I’m so excited to be cohosting this holiday link-up party with Keri from Living in this Season!
Keri was a HUGE help to me when my inbox was bursting with organizational questions last month and I quickly realized that I really enjoy Keri’s writing style! Keri truly has a servant attitude and her blog is full of great organization ideas, simple craft projects, and uplifting parenting encouragement.
I especially love Keri’s post today about a simple Thanksgiving tree – in fact, I think I’m going to break out the construction paper and make one this afternoon with my sweet daughters!
I’d love to hear: what preciously imperfect Christmastime memory tugs at your own heart-strings?
This link-up is open until Tuesday, November 11th, 2014. It can be any family-friendly post that you’d like to share with other readers!