What Happens On Cookie Day…Really?

Rhoads family cookie day occurs just once each year.  Let me give you some sage advice: never give your grandchildren little love monikers, like cookie names.  It leads to hosting a family cookie day where we bake each kind of cookie.  It leads to bedlam!

It all began so innocently.  Matthias was our first, and whenever we wanted to talk about him, we all just said “M” and he never caught on.  Then I had a little Sugar, so the others all asked what their cookie names were, and, well, before long I had a Chipper, a Gingersnap, a Snickerdoodle, a Tea Cake, a Chocoberry, and a Lemon Drop.  If you make double batches of each, that’s a whole lot of cookies!

in the beginningIt begins with a pristine kitchen large enough for all of us. We go to the church, which has three ovens.  I wonder if the kitchen feels any fear…it’s those Rhoads kids again! Watch out! 

Everyone lines up for hand washing.  When Alma was alive he wore an old security guard uniform and his sole function was watching little hands touching faces or noses or hair…it was back to the sink for all of them once or twice.  They’re better now, but Bill watches all the same.

Some of the chilled dough is ready for immediate baking, four batches have to be mixed, and of course, everyone loves helping Katelyn with the sugar cookies. The shapes are beginning to look better, but icing is thick and literally swimming with decorations. Note to self: You can never have too many sprinkles.

When it’s all cleaned up, the cars are loaded, and I turn off the light, I breathe a sigh of contentment mixed with a whole lot of relief.  Cookie day is a happy memory.  I hope when I am gone each one will think of me when they munch on cookies, and remember how much I loved them…enough to endure cookie day once a year, lol!

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Be Afraid of the Nine-Year-Old

I’ve languished for three weeks with a virus refusing to go away. Today I lay, spent, on the couch and a perky 9-year-old wants to prove she can bake cookies without me. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The first comment hollered to me from the kitchen foreshadowed her entire venture. “Nana, what’s 21/4 cup?” Really??? She’s baked with me for years. She reads ingredient lists to me all the time. Her math features fractions on a daily basis. Really?!!

“Nana, is this granulated sugar?” She hauled in a canister of powdered sugar. Really?  Have you read the label?  Yes, I’m feeling very afraid.

But this is how she learns. So far the crashes sound muted, but she’s still on the first step in the instructions.  I’m wondering why there have been so many crashes in just the first step. I’m afraid to look, but I’ll have to, sooner or later.

Letting our little ones grow up is hard, isn’t it? On the one hand, we bust our buttons with each milestone. On the other hand, we pay for each milestone along the way. I’m left wondering if all the universe operates on that same principle. One step forward, two steps back, three step forwards and lose the common sense somewhere in the middle. With each gain a loss promises growth.

Living with loss helps me appreciate the promise, and I’m very much like a nine year old in walking down this lonely path. Minus the perkiness. Minus the sweet treat. Of course, we have yet to taste her cookies, so the analogy may prove true in the end.

Family Bandaids

Life with loss, so they say, is a Chutes and Ladders kind of game. I never played as a child, but I’m playing now. Today I enjoyed a chute that put a bandaid on the hole in my heart. We enjoy family dinners on the first and third Sundays, and they never disappoint.

On first Sundays we have recitals and all the littles play something on the piano. I love watching those little fingers fly across the keys! They usually play something they’ve memorized, so who’s interested in looking at the music or counting, anyway? Aaron tickles the ivories, always a blessing. Today Levi brought his electric cello, and those mournful tones touched my soul.

The hugs and giggles and chaos may be exhausting, but in a good way. Megan and Lori work seamlessly with me to get the meal on the table. It takes two cycles of our dishwasher working overtime to handle the mess. When the toys are put away and the final waves initiate the mantle of silence, it’s a lighter silence. We wear little smiles and laugh about the kids’ antics. Charlie breathes a sigh of relief because he ‘s patiently endured too much love, so he naps beside me. The room feels less oppressive.

I like looking back at pictures with my son and ran into this Thanksgiving picture from a year ago, when Alma was still with us. They say you grieve as much as you love, so I must learn to adapt to a lifelong hole in my heart…but these short reprieves help. A lot. Yes, it’s like putting a bandaid over a sore that made me cry all week long. So incredibly thankful for family.DSC_0152