A Sense of Humor is Key to Holiday Survival

It was one of those December nights before Christmas, when all through the house, people were screaming.

I keep the calendar for our family of 10. It resembles a quilt this time of year. Every little square is colored with frantic scrawling and exclamation points. Last year was no exception. With 5 of the kids in school, there were music programs, parties, cookie exchanges, holiday shopping, and enough overlap to make a 7-layer dip. Instead of sour cream, beans, and guacamole, my layers were made of high blood pressure, cookie sheets, wrapping paper, and a sad bank account.

My oldest son, Ryley, was in sixth grade. For some reason, his teacher decided an all-class cookie exchange would be nice. I had no problem with this until I noticed she wanted the cookies to be brought to their holiday music program and they had to be homemade by the student. “No store-bought cookies!” she decreed, failing to understand that sometimes store-bought can mean the difference between a serene mother and a mother addled by nervous twitches.

I found the perfect easy Chocolate Peppermint cookie recipe for Ryley to make. The day of the holiday music program arrived. I made sure that I had all the ingredients at home so he could start baking immediately after school. The cookies would be out of the oven and cooled just in time to box up and take to the school that night. I was a genius!

I printed off the recipe and handed it to Ryley, busying myself with other essential tasks while staying near the kitchen. He gathered all the elements he’d need, including the big fancy stand mixer. I gave advice where I could, but really wanted it to be a learning experience for him. He began to assemble Chocolate Peppermint magic, following the recipe to the letter. The dry ingredients were hand-mixed in one bowl. The wet ingredients were going to be spun together in the stand mixer. He dumped sticks of softened butter into the mixer. He deftly poured in the sugar. I heard him read aloud, “Add eggs.”

He added the two eggs.

Two whole eggs. Not cracked eggs, not opened and then drained of their slimy, gooey, yolky contents. My darling son, who had to take 24 freshly baked cookies to school in one hour, had just dropped two eggs into a whirling stand mixer.

I screamed with astonishment.

“I didn’t know!” he wailed as I snapped off the mixer and raised the paddle. The damage was done. There was no way to fish decimated eggshells out of the soup of butter, sugar, and egg innards. He’d have to start over. And then I felt it coming on—a tickle, really.

I started to laugh. It was the only thing I could do. It was one of those laughs that came from a place of sheer disbelief. How did he not know to crack the eggs? And oh, look!

Those were the last two eggs in the house! My stomach hurt from laughing. I was hyperventilating. All the stress of the month and of making a perfect Christmas and keeping up with the pressures of the holiday season melted away. How much more enjoyable would the season have been if I hadn’t taken it so seriously? A lot.

Luckily, we kept cool heads after the initial shock and awe of his bizarre mistake. My mom was dispatched to the store for more eggs. We softened more butter and measured a new cup of sugar. It wasn’t long until I cracked two eggs into the busy mixer. Never before has cookie dough been assembled more quickly. We baked all two-dozen at once, cooled them for about 14 seconds, and stacked the little miracles in a container. While they baked, Ryley changed into nice clothes. He even put on a tie.

His cookies were a hit. They stuck together a bit, but every crumb was eaten at the after-party. They were delicious. They were shell-free. They were perfect.


Gretchen White is a married mother of eight children living in near Denver. She has been blogging at Lifenut for seven years and has a photography blog called Snapcake. Gretchen is a featured blogger at The Denver Post’s Mile High Mamas. She has also been a featured blogger at 5 Minutes for Parenting.

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