At Large with Joy Eggleston

November 30, 2017
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Courtesy Joy Eggleston One of the cookie trays from last year’s cookie exchange.
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Courtesy Joy Eggleston The group of participants at last year’s cookie exchange.

The holidays are filled with hustle and bustle. Sometimes the list of things to do overwhelms and distracts from the simple joy of the holidays. Instead of spending time with those we love, we sometimes find ourselves taken over the many things we have “to do.”

Several years ago, I realized there was one area which consistently fell short on my holiday list – cookie baking. As much as I love to cook, baking has never been my strength. I think it is the monotony and repetitiveness required (roll, roll, roll, bake, remove, remove, remove) that causes my impatience to kick in. Whatever the reason, several years back I found a solution which has greatly improved my holiday baking diversity, while embracing time with friends and family.

How did I achieve the impossible you ask? I decided to host an annual cookie exchange! For those who are not familiar, you invite a group of ladies to each bake one dozen cookies per attendee. Everyone also bakes an extra dozen to share and taste the evening of the exchange. The baker packages each dozen together in a freezer bag. Every attendee comes with multiple dozens of the same cookie (which is easier to accomplish than baking multiple different kinds), but leaves with one dozen of each type. You then take them home, place in your freezer and use them to create cookie trays throughout the holiday season. You also bring along a copy of the recipe to share. I host this event the Friday before Thanksgiving so everyone can check it off their list nice and early.

I try to keep it to a manageable list of bakers, but it has grown every year. This year, bakers had to make 15 dozen and that was still with a couple on the waiting list. No matter what, all are welcome to attend, even if there isn’t a baking spot open. We get together, listen to Christmas music, eat, drink and are merry. Kids are welcome and they all have a great time, too, playing and laughing and being together. I also invite some of my more (ah-hem) mature/retired friends and family (you know who you are). They have time to bake, but also simply enjoy the camaraderie of the evening and I love having them there. I even have friends who have no interest in baking, but have never missed it (Kubik never forgets to bring the world’s best buffalo dip). Yes, it’s a jolly good time and something I look forward to each year. The more the merrier!

Thanks to this relatively new tradition, something that used to be last on my list is now done first. Most importantly, I get to enjoy kicking off the holiday season with good friends and family. What could be more special than that? It has taught me that you can find a way to make the best of anything, even something you don’t particularly like.

I wish you all Christmas blessings surrounded by friends, family and, yes, excellent cookies!

Thanks for reading.

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