Our past doesn’t determine our future

a short story about cookies, finishing well and learning new ways.

When I was growing up if anyone in our home wanted cookies, they would mix up a batch of chocolate chip dough that was the only kind of cookies that were ever homemade in our kitchen. After mixing up the dough, the “baker” would spoon a few round balls onto a sheet pan and bake. The rest of the dough was left on the counter in a bowl uncooked, incomplete desolate of any hope to ever become what they were destined to be…finished. The cookies came out lovely and were gobbled up quickly  while the evidence was left scattered all over the kitchen. Someone would inevitably come along eat a few bites of the raw dough and leave the spoon in the metal bowl, that was about all the care we could muster. At some point the bowl with the dough and the spoon would find its way into the fridge, the dough would harden and crumble; nevertheless, picked at for days, sometimes there were multiple spoons in the bowl used to scrape at the unfinished cookies. NO one would finish baking the remainder of the cookie dough, no one cared, no one counted the cookies, or plated them, no one stored them or shared them. We would chisel away at leftovers on the stove top preferring leftover crumbs to a warm well-loved baked good. Every man for himself, It’s all I knew. If someone was hungry for brownies, the same procedure was followed, brownies would get mixed and baked, and eaten then left exposed and dry out to form calloused overcooked bricks. We took what we wanted and left everything we didn’t care about strewn between the counter and stove, to be raked over and foraged, we weren’t taught any different. no one ever made cookies with me while I stood on a stool beside the counter in an oversized apron. There were no invitations, no serving bowls, no holiday platters, no Tupperware in our house, no tissues, no dish towels, or dog bowls, there was no designation, everything was used for anything. We had no tools to organize our world and it was perfectly acceptable. We were infested with carelessness from a very young age and it stained me for a very long time. I didn’t realize until I saw a friend in her kitchen, how she functioned and moved about. She was baking gingerbread cookies as we talked. She was willing to stay in the kitchen and finish the job, she made a plan she committed to the process, what was this strange magic I mused?  It wasn’t for herself. Her generosity baptized me, splashing all over me and our children and the husbands like holy water that forever changed me. She used all the dough and baked every last gingerbread man she could, she set them on the counter to cool, she counted each one, she called the children in to sit like gentleman at the table and share cookies together. She then divided the leftover good into clean Tupperware with matching lids. Before I left, she handed me a container to bring home and I was new.

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