Thursday, November 19, 2009

Baking Cookies

I know it's a bit premature to do this, but last evening my ten-year-old daughter Caroline and I made gingerbread cookies from scratch. I had recently bought a nonstick cookie pan which contains little wells of all sorts of holiday shapes, just the perfect size for making formed cookies. There's a stocking, a wreath, an angel, and many other very detailed shapes for a total of 12.

We added the ingredients one at a time, and as I opened the small container of cloves, I lifted it to my nose and savored the aroma. For a moment I was a child again, too. The cloves smelled like Christmastime. The spice reminded me of pumpkin pie, and laughter, and warm conversations that circled around countless Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in the company of grandparents and cousins.

Caroline's questions and the burring noise of the electric mixer interrupted my thoughts and nudged me back to the task at hand. I placed the cloves container under Caroline's tiny nose, as she'd sat perched on the counter, positioning herself at just the correct height to see - and participate in - each step in the cookie-making process. Smiling, she also took a whiff of the spice. I couldn't help but think that this particular smell might also be etched into her brain for decades to come. Would she reflect on this time when she's 47 years old and baking cookies with her own daughter or son?

Flour seemed to fly everywhere, and I momentarily remembered that I'd just cleaned the kitchen earlier in the day. But I said not a word about her fumbling fingers and the mess that ensued. (Believe me, it was difficult to keep my hands to myself!) Our time together making cookies might be one of those events that remains engraved in her memory long after I'm gone, so don't spoil it by trying to keep a clean kitchen! I thought.

Finally, it was time to bake them. For Caroline, this 9-minute period seemed endless. She waited ... and waited ... and waited patiently for the oven timer to beep. Finally the seconds passed down to zero, and the long overdue "BING" sound summoned us. The whole kitchen swelled with the tantalizing aroma. After I removed the hot tray from the oven, she almost couldn't contain her excitement. We gently lifted each precious treasure from its warm little cavity. She smiled with anticipation, eager to see how the cookies turned out. And they were just perfect!

I remember vividly making cookies with my older daughter, now 13, a few years ago after I'd been through the heat of cancer. I remember praying and asking God at that time for the blessing of having many more years of making cookies with my children. It's amazing how something so simple can become so monumental in our small minds. Making cookies - no matter how messy it can get - has never felt quite the same to me after that.

God answers prayer. We never know how many more "cookie" times we'll actually have, but we do know that He has planned every day for us and that He already knows exactly how each day will "turn out." We just need to trust Him. Our lives rest ever so gently in His hands, and if we allow it, He will create within us the most perfect shape of all: the heart of Christ.


Debby said...

This made me cry. I want cookie time with my children again.

Ah. The smell of cloves. And the smell of sage. And the smell of vanilla. The smell of pine. This is just the best time of the year for smelling, isn't it? And that one whiff whisks you right back to holidays past! How lovely are the memories we wrap ourselves in.

WhiteStone said...

Nothing has felt quite the same since cancer. This year Thanksgiving is at our house. Today the aroma of baking fills the house. In January I was having surgery and then followed months of chemo. Today all is well. I feel super. I don't know what tomorrow will bring nor a year from now but I agree with you that God has planned each one of our days and we need to trust Him. God is good. No matter what.