In my wife's family, the weekend after Thanksgiving is dedicated to the much-anticipated Annual Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I married into it, so you know I'm not just being sentimental. My wife's family takes Christmas cookies very, very seriously. It's one of the reasons I married her.
This might sound to you like a fun, informal way to usher in the most wonderful time of the year. If that is what you think, than you are very mistaken. There is nothing "informal" about this Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza. Every year we approach this event like a well-oiled machine. We are balls-deep in cookie baking strategy and we are not messing around. Each year we get a little closer to perfecting the Christmas cookie baking production. Interestingly, each year we also get a little closer to not actually doing any baking when we are with each other at the event. Let me give you a little history.
Originally, the Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza had a utilitarian purpose. Rachel's parents' had a holiday open house every year, and they needed cookies to be flowing like sugary lava from an elf volcano from every surface in the house. Rachel and her sister's family also got a box as compensation for their hard work.
So. In 2009, I am living in Paris. I am sad because I am alone for the holidays. Rachel sends me a tin full of Christmas cookies she made with her mom and sister to cheer me up. I think that I have made a good choice re: Rachel.
In 2010, I am officially initiated into the Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza tradition. I am freaking out with excitement. Each family unit (there are three) is asked to bring the recipe for three cookies. We send Rachel's mom the list of ingredients to make six dozen of each type. She buys them, and they are waiting for us when we arrive at her house. Rachel and I decide to make some fancy fucking cookies including our now infamous Mostly Christmas Cutouts. They are mostly Christmas because our cookie cutters are shaped like snowflakes, snowmen, Christmas trees, and dinosaurs. It takes hours and hours to get through 12 cookie species, and at the end of the day Rachel and I have not iced our Mostly Christmas Cutouts. We finish the day after.
In 2011, we realize that we all think the chocolate chip cookies taste worse and worse every year. Rachel's mom says, "That is so strange. I use the exact same recipe and the exact same ingredients every time we bake them!" We say, "The exact same ingredients?" We check out her baking powder ("Baking powder never goes bad!"). It turns out her baking powder expired in 1991. We buy new baking powder.
Nothing exciting happened in 2012.
In 2013 we decide to come to Christmas Cookie Baking Extravaganza with the dough for our three cookies already made. We will roll, cut, and bake the prepared cookie dough together. Sounds like a plan. Somehow, it still takes us hours and hours, and Rachel and I still finish icing our cookies the day after....
Team Christmas Cookie takes a big step forward in 2014: due to the fact that Rachel's parents stop hosting their annual Christmas open house, there is no longer and actual need for pounds and pounds of cookies. Unwilling to let the tradition go, we decide that each family will bring two types of cookies instead of three. At this point, we are bringing our cookies already cut and baked. All we need to do at the cookie party is ice those damn buggers. Of course, icing is a two-step process. First you have to glaze them with a thin icing, then pipe them with a thick icing. We still end up finishing them the day after.
This year was our most efficient year on record. We all came with our doughs prepared, and Rachel and I had our cookies cut, baked, and glazed. I started preparing three days ahead of time. All we needed to do with those fucking Mostly Christmas Cutouts was pipe some freaking faces on them. And you know what? WE DID IT ALL THE DAY OF. We were so proud.
The big question now is this: have we reached the perfect ratio of efficiency to Christmas Spirit? Can we go farther? Next year will we bring out cookies cut, baked, and decorated and then just swap them around? Perhaps the biggest question is this - is this snowman offering you his dick in a box? Answers will come next year! In the meantime, we have a lot of cookies to eat.