In terms of accidental holiday traditions, this is by far my favorite. Sugar, drinks, sugared drinks…those are at least three of the important major food groups. Or so I recall from Elf.
The original baking day was much more focused on baking and decoration. Effort was put into it. Thought. Detail. Care.
In recent years, I don’t know if it’s due to advancing age or decreased attention span, but cookies have gotten more…eclectic.
There was the year when we had a star cookie that was completely covered in candy eyes. Or the time someone dumped all of the blue sprinkles onto a cookie, ate it, and looked like a Smurf murderer. Or any time someone decided to forgo icing with a knife and grabbed a spoon or used the opportunity of being sans-utensils to reflect on the simple joy of Dunkaroos.
Inevitably a batch of cookies gets burned in the oven, or we create a horrific color for the icing. And in a cramped kitchen there’s dish upon a dish of stuffed mushrooms, cheese and cracker plates layered over sprinkles and teas and bottles of rum. It’s a glorious mess.
Cleaning up after baking day now is usually about finding weird fruit juice stains in the freezer, and candy pearls in the corners of the kitchen when I sweep again in May, scrubbing spots of purple icing out of the couch in the living room or off the back of the kitchen chairs.
I love all of it.
There is something inherently magical about gathering with friends or family around a table, around food, around drink. My best memories generally include food (though I’ve not reached my sister’s level where she can remember the type of sandwich she ate on any given memorable day).
Christmas gets a bad rap because people gain weight over December. All that socializing that involves food and suddenly you’re backtracking on your goal weight for the year. But we tend to forget that one of the reasons why we all love Christmas so much is because we spend more time with the people that we love. Eating is just a delicious byproduct.
Boozy Baking and time with friends may just work because it’s a mesh of two identical things. After all, baking while drinking results in a delicious mess, and socializing works the same way. Put in the effort, put in the time, and reap the rewards of your own beautiful disaster that we usually refer to as life.
Merry Christmas, friends!