Picture this: It’s the wee hours of a chill December morning, and you are a child asleep in your safe, warm bed. You have a pile of blankets pulled up to your chin, with your hands and one foot securely tucked beneath (the other foot is peeking out like some kind of plump, pink sentinel, because otherwise you’ll get too warm).
In a matching twin bed not six feet away sleeps your little sister, clutching her stuffed koala, Mr. Monkey (don’t ask) in one hand and her baseball mitt in the other. She, too, is sound asleep, and would be snoring softly if it weren’t for the canvas-skinned goose down pillow into which she has smashed her face.
The room is warm, the dreams are sweet, and all is right with the world.
Suddenly, like the heralding angels’ trumpets of old, a joyous but overwhelming cacophony crashes in on your repose, shattering your dreams into shimmering threads which dissipate as they float away from your grasp. In the back of your mind, you recognize the blaring notes of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” a once enjoyable carol, now an intruder you wish you could banish forever.
You look around, trying to make sense of what has happened and you find that, despite having no memory of moving, you are standing upright at the foot of your own bed. Your sister has not been so lucky. She is
crumpled in a heap nearby on the chilly hardwood floor, invisible and trying to escape the blankets that have ensnared her. You bend to remove the covers from her face, and the bleary, betrayed eyes that emerge are a near-exact reflection of your own.
Lovely scene, isn’t it? This fun little tradition is how my sister, Mandy and I awoke on Cookie-Baking Day every single year. Cookie-Baking Day was the day Mom baked all of the goodies we would serve at our annual
Christmas Open House, and her final step of preparation before assembling the first batch of dough was to put on her all-time favorite holiday record and crank it up to where she could satisfactorily rock out to it. (Not many people can rock out to Bing Crosby Christmas music, but my mom could, and she didn’t care what you or anybody else thought about it.)
Upon hearing the thumps of our waking, Mom would immediately summon us to come downstairs so we could eat and be out of her way as soon as possible. We’d stumble along in our matching footie pajamas and
begrudgingly comply, downing the traditional Cookie-Baking Day breakfast of Christmas Crunch cereal and milk. Thus fueled with sugar and songs, we would exit to change into our Saturday clothes and enjoy whatever diversions we could find until Mom inevitably called us back down to fetch and help.
I know now that Mom did not deliberately set out to frighten us (I’m not sure she even knew we could hear her music from that far away), but that didn’t matter in the big picture. Cookie-Baking Day was the foundation of our gift to the world, our way of telling everyone we knew that we loved them and wanted to give them something special. It took a lot of work, a lot of energy, and a lot of love to make it happen. If all that work, love, and energy happened to generate a fair bit of noise, too? Well, that was just a bonus.