I summoned the elves who, a bit cranky on account of the rain, finally alighted in my kitchen. The holiday baking could commence. We were all a bit out of sorts, the elves wet and moody and me annoyed at having even less time than in years past to pull together Christmas lunch, wrapping gifts and bake for the neighbours.
Portia was no help – upon walking in from work I discovered all (and I mean all) of my Christmas presents, accurately wrapped – or as accurately as my gift wrapping abilities will allow – pulled off the dining room table where I stupidly assumed they would be safe, unwrapped and chewed over the course of a long and boring rainy day. Why spend time on her chewy toys when red and golden boxes of all sizes beckon??
I knew it had to be Portia because Ottie is too much of a gentleman and, besides, he is a Christmas veteran, untouched by my general unstable mood and whirlwind. But I was annoyed at him too, for not stopping this fury, and kept on cursing, far removed from the holiday spirit, while picking up chewed books and ruined objects strewn all over the house (why limit oneself to the dining room after all?). So, today, on top of buying flowers, start the dinner preparations and set the table, I will have to battle crowds to replace most of the gifts. All, after a day at work. There will not be a holiday bone under the tree for Missy, on her first Christmas here.
By the end of the night, though, cardamom and spice scents wafting from the kitchen, the elves and I were in a much better mood. I settled for grown up cookies this year – after many seasons of candy, quick breads and home-made panettone, I was itching to use my angel and star and tree cookie cutters again – it took a while to decide what to make, the only person agonizing being me, as the recipients will surely not give it a second thought. No sugar cookies or royal icing or ginger bread. At the top of the list was a Finnish cookie called Piparkaut that received the top honors in the New York Times – packed with spices and black pepper and topped with sugar, it caught my imagination and I was not disappointed. More complex than gingerbread because of the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and pepper in different proportions, it tasted like a Nordic Christmas.
Being in love with cardamom, a very underappreciated spice in my opinion, next were Cardamom shortbread, in the shape of small globes. And, finally, to satisfy my chocolate addiction, I made very dark chocolate stars, the not -kid- friendly variety. Sheets of cookies were on every available counter, next to the fruit dipped in sugar and sparkles that will be my table centerpiece; clear bags and ribbons started to be filled, with the elves delegated to create pretty bows. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the chaos, an otherwise foreign element to my daily life.
Despite the thick fog enveloping the house, the elves decided to leave for different pastures, bellies full of cookies and milk, bidding me farewell until next year. I fell in a deep slumber shortly after. Cookie bags safely tucked on a very high shelf – not even a kangaroo could jump that high.
Happy Holidays my friends near and far. May the New Year bring you peace, health and all kinds of good surprises.
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