A Christmas Memory: A short story
Mama always made the same chocolate chip cookies in the weeks before Christmas. And every year I would stand around as she baked them. With her back turned I would steal a chunk of cookie dough off the counter top. She pretended like she didn’t know, but mothers always do.
Night fell too early that time of year. The skies were dark by four and the streetlights flickered on soon after. There was a visible shift as the darkness grew, when house after house started to glow. Bright white, yellow, and red lights, that left every single room with a holiday shine.
I loved this time of year.
The kitchen was always caked in flour and smelled like sweet baking. Mama was always wearing the Christmas apron I made for her in sewing class. Holiday music burst from the stereo and presents were beginning to pile up underneath the tree.
Classes were coming to an end and soon my brothers and I would be on break for two weeks. I spent most of my time following Mama around, wanting to go on every grocery trip and bank run. I held her hand a lot, even in public. I wasn’t old enough to be embarrassed by her like my brothers were.
Dad spent his time working, coming home late in the evening covered in grease and oil. He was determined to put in his hours now so he would have enough time and money to spend Christmas with us later.
As the cookies baked in the oven I watched out the window as snowflakes fell to the ground. Each one a carving of joy that warmed my heart a little more. It was a full moon that night, and a celestial glow cast a yellow haze on the night sky.
I watched my brothers and the other neighbourhood kids playing hockey out in the streets. It was close to twenty below but no one ever seemed to mind the cold. They bundled up in their snowsuits and toques. Neck warmers were a must, and of course, a second layer of socks could not be forgotten.
They had set up their nets in the middle of the street and would move them every time someone yelled “car.” I was too young to join that year. They told me I’d get hurt and then nobody would be allowed to play anymore. Sometimes they let me sit on the snow banks and cheer them on though. And mom would bring out mugs of hot chocolate and treats for everyone.
That was our plan for the night. The smell of cookies wafted through the air. The sweet sugar and chocolate mixture was enough to make anyone’s mouth water. This time Mama had let me choose the cookie cutters. There were Santa’s and trees, and stockings too. The icings in colours of red, white, and green. Perfect for the holidays. And while we waited for them to cool I danced through the living room to my favourite Christmas songs.
As soon as the icing went on and had begun to dry, Mama and I placed them carefully into a tin so that they wouldn’t break. A thermos of hot chocolate was sitting on the counter, next to a stack of paper cups.
I ran to put on my jacket and boots, my mitts still drying from playing in the snow all morning. Mama told me to grab a pair of gloves that were stuffed in the closet. Once I was ready for the cold, I grabbed the thermos and the cups, Mama the tin of cookies, and we went outside to see the kids play hockey.
We watched them for a bit. Running up and down the street, sticks clashing together and boots stomping on the ground. Every so often someone would get pushed into the snow and they would laugh.
After a goal was scored Mama called for a time out. “Time for a snack,” she said.
The boys and girls lined up to get their treats and their drinks. They all smiled and thanked us. They said Mama was the greatest mother ever. They said she made the best cookies on the block.
When the tin and thermos were finally empty we went back inside and the kids kept playing their game.
The house was warm and comforting compared to the freezing cold. The fire in the fireplace started crackling high when Mama put another log on. With the smell of cookies still in the air, I asked if there were any left for me.
“There might be a few,” she said, a grin spread across her face.
With the first savory bite I decided, no one makes cookies like Mama. At least not at Christmas.