Cookie Monster: Not Always Blue and Cuddly


Cookie contraband.   (Photo credit: freakgirl)

Cookies have been getting me into trouble all my life.  I love cookies – and cakes, and pies, and chocolate candy.

But recently, the trouble is not the calories or pounds, not the missing cookie from the cooling sheet, not even the cookie crumbs on the couch. Nope.

Cookies are putting me on the “check those packages” list with the wise mothers of my young friends – children of all ages for whom I like to bake cookies or ship off a jar of jam.  Yup.   I pack up the sweets and head for the post office before I can stop myself; cookies for the twins, brownies for the sometimes-quarterback star of flag-football, jam for the tap-dancer in her pink tutu.

“Stop, Jan!”  I tell myself.  (Echoing the pleading from moms of my acquaintance.)

I do know that the dear children in my life have no particular interest in sweets; but, sadly, I do. Why can’t I just send a book or write a note to tell them they’re in my heart?  How can I stop sending baked goods for every occasion – and for no reason at all?

I think I’ve gotten to the bottom of the cookie jar on this one.  And here’s how the story crumbles: I can blame my failing on my mom and aunties and grandma.  (Whew! That’s a relief.)

Grandma, Mom and Auntie’s baked goods were particularly precious gifts for their children on special occasions.  Raised by the generations who had fled from famine in Ireland, the Great War in Europe, and the Great Depression – sugar, eggs and butter were precious commodities.  Along with the financial sacrifice, baking was time-consuming and tedious. The many steps of baking had to be squeezed in between laundry, house cleaning, gardening, cooking, mending and canning.

Taking the time and spending the resources to bake a birthday cake or a pie or a batch of cookies showed me or my sister or my cousin just how precious we were to the family. And since the gift could be shared, we felt magnanimous – OK, OK, maybe a little put-out too that the piece of cake with the rose on top went to Aunt Ruth and not to me, “the birthday girl.”

My dear Aunt Helen loved sending “care packages” to her distant grandchildren and their friends. She had an assortment of special cookie cutters in shapes appropriate to the holidays – flags for Independence day, oak and elm leaves for back-to-school, wreaths for Christmas… you get the idea.  She’d make up batches of decorated sugar cookies and off they’d go to far-off homes and college campuses. (Aunt Helen collected oatmeal boxes – round and cardboard, because cookies didn’t crumble if they were  packed in an oatmeal box.)

When my mother was having the family over for dinner – anywhere from 12 to 25 people, she dedicated an entire day before the occasion to baking cherry, apple, mincemeat and French-silk pies, a chocolate cake and several types of cookies. Mom would have considered it a slight to her guests if she’d offered them only one kind of pie or if she’d ignored Uncle’s preference for cake.

Now, all this is to say – my trafficking in cookies is my misguided attempt to send a sweet kiss and hug in those treats.  “Those cookies are made with lots of love,” I assert pathetically.

The problem for me is deep-seated, one that I must overcome before I’m banned by wise mothers from sending or delivering or carrying treats of any kind to my young friends.

I’m going to try to do better.  I’ll keep you posted on my recovery…          


About J. F. Booth

I am a writer and educator.
This entry was posted in Life Lessons. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Cookie Monster: Not Always Blue and Cuddly

  1. Zelley Barbara says:

    So agree…it is a challenge to integrate our positive memories (and different health issues) with this generation’s health issues and different memories…

  2. Jan, your “sweet” disposition is always deeply appreciated!

  3. Sheri Byrnes says:

    Please say it isn’t so?! Please don’t give up this generous, loving habit. As a former starving college student, and current mother of one, i can say that those supplies are still expensive to those first out on their own-not to mention, just the bakeware alone could be impossible for them to get ahold of. And even though my student has diabetes, the smile is just as big because she can “budget” one or two of them into her diet and as you said, share the rest. And when you have nothing, the opportunities to be the one doing the sharing are few and far between but to this day, enjoyed to an extent those of us that take that gesture of sharing a cookie for granted cant imagine. Thank you Jan. keep those cookies coming!

  4. Carolyn says:

    Fun article. Believe it or not, I have never baked. And my mum and grandma didn’t do it much either. Our treats at tea time tended to the savoury, My latest rave, tasted first at the recent wedding, are mint and Marmite sandwiches, not for the faint of heart!

  5. Anonymous says:

    You can’t help it Jan….humans are hardwired for addiction, is what they say this morning. I LOVE BAKED GOODS!

  6. Karen says:

    Your cookies are always welcomed and appreciated at my house! My mother baked pies and cakes, but never cookies. I’ve always marveled at your patience and ability in baking such wholesome, from scratch treats. It is a loving and tasty act of kindness!

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