Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Cookies and Ugly Cookie Night

Recently, the kids and I made Christmas cookies.  I loved doing this as a kid.  My mom would make the shapes, and we would sit around the table with several bowls with different colors of icing and sprinkles and decorate away.  As an adult, I don't know how she did that.  I am not proud to admit that I am THAT MOM.  I don't like play doh, I don't like paint, and glitter has never entered the house to my children's knowledge.  I let them play with play doh and paint, but it is a conscious decision to let go.  The kitchen will be clean again.

And it really isn't any big deal.  Even when it looks like a rainbow threw up all over the counter and floor, it's never so bad that it can't be cleaned up in ten minutes.  When Ella recently found her missing silly putty by sticking her elbow in it, twice, it was no big deal.  Did you know that rubbing alcohol gets that stuff right out of fabric?  It was easy peasy and we did it together, and because I didn't get mad it became "that cool trick we learned together" instead of "that thing mom got really mad at me for but I'm not really sure why because it was an accident."

I'm improving.  Boys are helping sanctify me in this area.  They are sanctifying me through their pockets, one wash at a time.

Back to the cookies.  I made the cookies a day ahead and outlined them in white royal icing {which is the stuff that gets hard so you can decorate and then stack them once they dry} before the kids got them, so that the kids could fill them in with slightly less thick royal icing in different colors.  The more I worked with the thinned icing, though, the more I realized the kids wouldn't actually be able to use it.  It was too difficult {I'm sure it was the recipe I used}.  Ella would have figured it out, but Jack and Nate couldn't have, and this was supposed to be a family activity.  Instead, I pulled out all of my sprinkles, put a rimmed cookie sheet in front of each kid, and handed them one cookie at a time.  I had made gingerbread men, angels, snowmen, and trees.  We started with the trees. I put the green icing on them, and they added the decoration.  I didn't give them direction {I did have to look away a few times so they couldn't see my pained expression}.  They did what they wanted.

This was where all of my dread was swept away.  They had a blast!  As I said, the icing was hard to work with, so they had to wait for each cookie.  Something about that wait time and anticipation made each cookie special to them, so they decorated them more carefully.  Also, by the time we finished the trees, they were satisfied and didn't want to do anymore.  I put on a movie for them, and I went to town decorating the rest.  Like Superman.

He was my favorite.  But they were all pretty cute.

When I was finished, I had a few that were really ugly - I'm no pro.  I took the ugliest three cookies and put them on paper plates.  Then I took the last of each icing color and squirted them all over, covering them completely and with no rhyme or reason.  Finally, I took the sprinkles left in their cookie sheets and tipped them over onto the cookies I had just iced.  These cookies were so covered in icing and random sprinkles you couldn't tell what kind of cutout they used to be.  After dinner, Handsome Hero and I put them at their plates and declared it Ugly Cookie Night!  I was a little nervous that they would turn their noses up at them and want the pretty ones that were drying on the counter, but they didn't.  They were so excited!  They jumped up and down and grabbed their plates and compared their blobs and laughed and giggled and declared them the most delicious cookies they had ever eaten.

I had really dreaded this activity, but it turned out blessedly wonderful.  I didn't take any other pictures because I hadn't planned on writing a post about it.  I sent these pics from my phone to my mom, who encouraged me to share the story on the blog.  I've tried a few different crafts this season that I thought the kids would like, like paper chains.  We're never doing that again  It didn't go exactly as planned.  I really don't enjoy any craft that is heavy on the scissors.  Add in complaining kids and I'm out.  My favorite complaint was, "But, Mom, we're studying our COUNTRY!  These should be red, white, and BLUE, not GREEN!" 

But decorating cookies, a project that I thought would be horrible, that I put off and was dreading doing, ended up being such a joyful activity.  The kids have been able to show off their creations at two Christmas celebrations so far, and we still have some left over for Friday. 

I have no doubt that next year I will struggle with decorating cookies again, and it may turn out well, and it may not.  What I know will turn out well?  The tradition I'm sure will stick?

Ugly Cookie Night.

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