December 11, 2009
Cookies of Resentment

Thursday afternoon ÷ (1 kg flour + 575 g butter+ 3 1/6 cups assorted sugars + x) = 144 cookies + 1 resentful Kristen.

I enjoy traditions and celebrating the cycle of time so I try hard to embrace the whole year-end holiday season, but for much of it I am resentful and unhappy. I dislike the expectations and pressure I put on myself to produce my one-woman Christmas show every year. I shop; I decorate; I wrap; I cook; I bake. Mostly done alone unless I coerce, plead or break down.

I feel like a bitter old lady telling you this because resentment is not how I approach life in general and I wish I knew how to change myself. Maybe in the writing, a revelation will come. Or not; this is a problem I struggle with every year. I imagine this is completely shocking to you, since you love and embrace the holiday season with all your heart, curling ribbon, and glittery snowflakes.

One aspect of the festive season that often pains me is waiting too long to get things done. I’d love to make a mad and abbreviated dash through three or four days before Christmas, doing it all from shopping to decorating to celebrating and then be done. I’ve attempted it many times and it used to work, but each year’s celebration gets a little bigger and more elaborate. Now this approach exhausts me and leads to mental and physical illness, so I decided to take it easier this year.

I baked cookies yesterday, 2 weeks in advance. But there was no holiday cheer in this task - it was practical and about as exciting as vacuuming the apartment, which I also accomplished yesterday.

Don’t get me wrong, baking is fun. I love to concoct things and pop them in the oven. I adore sweets. But holiday baking is expected, though not demanded, and that seems to suck all the fun out of it. Of course there will be cookies and they will have been magically baked when no one is looking. There is no sweet surprise to spring on my darling.

“But you didn’t have to do it!” he declared when I whinged about cookie baking last night. That is true, I didn’t. Tod isn’t all that interested in cookies. I don’t think he even asked what I’d made or how many or expressed the slightest curiosity.

What would happen if there were no cookies? Superficially, nothing. Mostly I bake them to follow a tradition of ransoming Tod from his office on Christmas Day afternoon but Tod would still leave the office and his coworkers would barely remember a decade’s worth of Christmas cookie deliveries. The problem is that at some point in the festivities, an innocent comment or question from Tod on the topic of cookies would tailspin me into guilt and shame at not providing sufficient holiday cheer.

So “possible guilt” trumps “definite resentment” and the cookies get baked. If they taste a little bitter, I apologise. I’ll try to add more cheer next time.

Posted by kuri at December 11, 2009 09:20 AM


Christmas used to be a wonderful celebration for me of all these little traditions that my son and I fashioned together. Now my son is grown and I’ve remarried and my husband didn’t grow up with ourtraditions. I find myself in the same boat. Do I continue with my traditions (fun mostly because they’re shared) even when no one else is interested. Or do I save myself the headache and do without. I find myself split. This year some baking but not so much. Nor are we having a traditional Christmas dinner. No Christmas tree but I did put up the mantle decorations. I sent Christmas cards to my friends and relatives and bought cards for his—although he hasn’t written or sent them yet.

All this is an uneasy compromise. Being somewhat older than you, I’ve gotten past doing things out of a sense of guilt. However, I haven’t quite reached the age where I’ve gotten past the resentment. Still working on that.

Posted by: mss @ nipponDAZE on December 22, 2009 05:13 AM

Tt sounded like you enjoyed making the book tree. Maybe try some fun/challenging baking next year? We made a cookie house this year that took an elapsed time of 4 days (unexpectedly since Seth didn’t read the full directions before he started). It was the most fun I’ve had baking for a long time.

Posted by: Tara on January 1, 2010 01:35 PM
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