The great baking bicker off

December is a month of magic. A month of warmth in the cold, of lights in the darkness, of families coming together to commemorate, to celebrate, and (for some) to make cookies as a treat for a jolly old elf. My daughter Viva and I enjoy an annual Christmas Eve tradition of laying out yummy ingredients, dragging out the mixer, setting down a big red plate and then getting into a fight with one another until we are both resentful and agitated and the batter tastes of bitter tears. 

I don’t know why we always duke it out over Santa cookies. It started the Christmas she was 1 and has been consistently unpleasant ever since. She never wants to finish, or to write the note. I insist that making cookies together is a beautiful bonding experience and demand she have a good time. She accuses me of being a tyrant, I tell her she’s being ungrateful, then Mommy tells us we’re all tired and shouldn’t have started baking so late after such a big day. 

What sets us off every year right when we should be hunkering down to contemplate frolicking sugarplums? Perhaps it is the pressure to make indelible memories. Perhaps it is density of mandated jollity packed into these last weeks of the year. Likely it is the unspoken anxiety of the father/daughter dynamic: the pressure for Dad to be the perfect provider, protector, confidant and clown, while Daughter must be the ideal scion, scholar, princess and muse. These stressors, fueled by exhaustion, expectation and peppermint bark, come crashing together into a cinnamon-dusted donnybrook at the kitchen island.

I hope this year will be different. I hope this year I’ll be more patient, she’ll be more amenable, and we’ll begin the process much sooner before bedtime. Someday perhaps it’ll sink in that we needn’t bake to form a bond, because our bond is unbreakably forged and to one another we will always be enough. If our family is together, we will always be home, it will always be a holiday… and Santa can just eat a stack of Oreos or something.

Viva Cookies. Viva Viva. Viva Daddy.

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This article originally published in December 2019 issue. Read the rest of the issue. 

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