Friday, January 16, 2015

15 Chocolate Chips

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on December 7, 2014

‘Tis the season to think about family, traditions, and the things that give us a big ol’ case of the holiday feels. I’m not particularly nostalgic as a general rule, but there is something about this time of year that even makes my Grinch heart grow three sizes on occasion.

As I type this, my kids are participating in one of their favorite holiday traditions: watching “Home Alone”.  I guess because this movie takes place around Christmas time it gets lumped into the Christmas movies, although, there is nothing about this movie that warms the cockles of my heart or makes me feel less Grinch-y inside. In fact, about the only thing that happens when I watch that movie is that I feel slightly more inclined to want to bash my head against a wall. Yet, my kids look forward to it being on ABC’s “12 Days of Christmas” television lineup every year. When I was a kid, our big thing was to watch the Bass-Rankin stop-animation classics like “Rudolph” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “The Year Without a Santa Claus”.  The Peanuts Christmas special was cause for Jiffy Pop and hot chocolate. My kids got those movies on VHS when they were little and I guess we broke the magic by giving them access to them any time they wanted. Hmm…maybe I should consider buying “Home Alone” on DVD….

Up until this year, if you were to ask my kids what the most memorable part of the holiday season is at our house, they would answer: when Momma goes bonkers and starts griping while we drag out the decorations and trees until everyone is grumpy and usually Kady cries and then Momma goes to her room with the door shut for the rest of the evening. I’m not going to say that the past 13 years have been super duper shiningly loving and serene, but hey, it’ll be a hoot for them to talk about what a crazy person I was when it comes time for my memorial service.  Strangely enough, I didn’t raise my voice even once this year. It was nice. Weird, but nice. I think I’ll try it again next year. They seemed to like it.

 I bake all year around, but more so here at the holidays. From the time the kids were little, any time I made chocolate chips cookies I would set a pile of chocolate chips for each of them on the counter. It kept their little paws out of the dough and no one could say one got more than another. I always counted out 15 chips for each – enough to look like a ton to a child, but not enough to hype anyone up too much. Last week I decided to make cookies and the weirdest thing happened – no one was underfoot, no one asked to crack the eggs, no one asked to help stir, no one was even paying attention to the fact I was loudly crinkling the chocolate chip package in an effort to get their attention.

I carefully counted out 45 chocolate chips and divided them into three little piles. And then I hollered, “Kids!” I heard footsteps approaching the kitchen punctuated with some sighs and a grumpy, “Whatcha need?” I said not a word, just busied myself with dumping the remaining chocolate chips into the dough. When I knew they were all in the kitchen I stepped back from the counter and heard, “Yesssss!”, “Chocolate chips!”, “Hey, that’s MY pile!” as they scooped their treats into their hands. And boom, just like that, they were gone and out of my kitchen once again.

Then that big ol’ boy of mine snuck back in, kissed my cheek and said, “Really, Momma. Thanks.” And then one daughter came back in with a hug, then the other with a kiss and a squeeze. All over 15 chocolate chips. Yeah, those Christmas feels. They got me. 

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