On the first day of Christmas vacation during seventh grade, I found myself with a whole day of nothing to do. I took my mom’s stained Betty Crocker cookbook out of the drawer to see what I could make that would shock and awe all of those who would receive her annual cookie tray that year.
I stumbled upon a gingerbread boy/girl recipe that was intriguing because I had not made those before. I checked to be sure all of the ingredients were in the house, and I rummaged around a drawer until I found a cookie cutter that was in the shape of a traditional gingerbread person.
As I went over the recipe and looked at the cookie cutter, I decided that just one batch was not going to be enough. I wanted to be sure we had plenty to give away. I decided to double the recipe just to be safe.
I gathered up all that was necessary and began an afternoon of what I was sure was going to be the best experience ever. The recipe called for seven cups of flour, but I was doubling it, so I had to measure out fourteen cups. That should have been an indication to me what was to come, but I did not take heed. I happily went along mixing, measuring and stirring.
I did each ball of dough in two bowls so I would not lose track of what I was doing and accidentally omit an ingredient. I decided that one bowl would be for gingerbread boys while the other would be for girls. After chilling the dough for an hour, I preheated the oven and took out one bowl to begin rolling, cutting and baking. I pressed raisins in for eyes, noses, mouths and buttons. While one batch was in the oven baking, I was sweating it out attending to the next assortment.
My parents were going to a Christmas party that evening, so when they left, I was in the middle of production.
“How many of these are you making?” she asked as they left.
“I don’t know. I doubled the recipe so I’m not certain.”
With that, they departed for dinner, and I was left with a monster I was creating.
By the time I finished baking, the entire kitchen table, dining room table and an extra table I had to set up in the living room were covered with baked cookies ready to be frosted. I had not taken a minute to eat and had worked all evening in an attempt to use up all the dough I had made.
I cleaned up all the baking dishes and plunged into making a huge batch of white frosting that I split up for pink and blue frosting. I followed the instructions in the cookbook by trying to make neat fringe around the wrists and ankles of each cookie followed by a hat. My hand grew tired after the first few, but I looked up at the sea of naked cookies around me. I couldn’t stop now.
As the hours wore on, my eyes were beginning to droop. I heard the garage door go up signaling the arrival of my parents.
When my mom opened the kitchen door her mouth popped open and she froze in place. She scanned the dining room and the kitchen with a look of amazement. Not the good kind.
“What is going on? Are you still baking?”
“No,” I said trying to be optimistic. “I am frosting.”
“Have you been doing this all night?”
I glanced at the clock. It was midnight.
“I guess so.”
I went back to the cookie in front of me. Over the moments spent with them, I silently vowed I would not eat any because I was so tired of looking at them. After I finished, I was going to part ways with them for good. My neck and back were developing stiffness and pain from hunching over cookie sheets all night long.
“How did you end up with this many?” she asked.
“I doubled the recipe. I didn’t think I was going to have enough.”
“What?!” She went over to the drawer, pulled out the Betty Crocker and found the recipe.
“Did you use fourteen cups of flour?”
“What?! Fourteen CUPS of flour? Really?”
I put my head down and kept going.
“What are we going to do with all of these?” I didn’t know. My job was to bake them and frost them. After that, my duty was done.
When I heard a gasp followed by the exclamation,
“There is more out here too?!” I knew she was putting away her coat in the living room closet and had walked past the extra table that held more.
I kept quiet and continued on with my self inflicted slave labor.
I believe I finished just before 2 am and stumbled off to bed not caring what would become of my creations.
The next morning, she had packed all of them into multiple empty ice cream buckets and put them into the freezer until she assembled her trays to give away. For weeks she brought them to work just to rid our house of them and by the fourth of July, she finally threw them away as everyone had lost interest.
In the years that have lapsed since then, I have only made that type of bakery good once with my daughters. And, I did not repeat the mistake of doubling the recipe. In my attempt to control what I thought was going to be lack, I created a mess that would never have transpired had I stuck to the original recipe.
This is exactly how life becomes complicated. When a person entertains limiting thoughts or has a fear of lack, and she uses her own will power to remedy this false belief, all sorts of trouble can happen. I found out that trying to manufacture an abundance of something by my own doing was not a blessing at all. It was a nuisance that I could not free myself from soon enough.
In the same way, when we find ourselves short on material resources, we have a tendency to give less and hoard more. However, this flies directly against a well known passage that states: Give and it shall be given to you.
It is a bit frightening to give a hand out when you are terrified of going under financially. However, it can be exhilarating to actually follow through, put it to the test, and see how it not only brings a blessing to the receiver but also to the giver.
To rest in a state of peace even when it doesn’t seem like you have enough isn’t easy. To laugh when you should cry, to sleep peacefully when you should be up all night worrying and to give a gift when you don’t think you can afford it, are signs that you believe all is well. It shows that you are in agreement with God, and that is the sweet life of one smart cookie.