Looking at ourselves and the world through the lens of the 21st century.

Friday, December 9, 2022

The Secret Is...

In this week's podcast, we talked about the seven secrets to a perfect holiday. The word “perfect” is relative. I’ve learned over the years that perfect doesn’t exist if you set your expectations too high. Something will always go wrong. I want to say the biggest secret in my mind is that there is no secret to a perfect holiday.

One of the most memorable holidays I had with my family was one of those holidays where everything seemed to go wrong. I call it the “Great Pumpkin Disaster.” That year, my grandmother, my mom, and I decided to make a trio of pumpkin desserts: Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin cupcakes. 

My grandmother is a perfectionist when it comes to all things pumpkin. She is always the one to make the pumpkin desserts. In fact, she never lets anyone in the kitchen when she is cooking. On the flip side, she won’t let anyone cook in the kitchen without her (because it is her kitchen). So, it was nearly impossible to cook your own recipe without her input. That being said, maybe I could have used her input that Christmas, but I was always irritated when I tried to cook in the kitchen and she constantly hovered over me. My grandmother used to say, “Too many cooks in the kitchen...”

My mom and I cooked first working on our pumpkin bread and cupcakes while kicking my grandma out of the kitchen multiple times. I love making cupcakes and it was the first time I had ever made pumpkin cupcakes. The result was pretty disappointing. My cupcakes sank in the middle and only a few turned out edible. I didn’t understand what was wrong. It had to be something wrong with my grandmother’s oven, but no one believed me. Next, my mom’s pumpkin bread came out of the oven as hard as a brick but still, no one believed me that there was something wrong with the oven. My grandmother claimed it was because we wouldn’t let her help us.

Finally, my grandmother made her pumpkin pies, and they almost caught fire in the oven, leading to hysteria in the kitchen as we prepped for Christmas dinner. My grandmother didn’t want to believe that it was an oven problem and swore that it was because she wasn’t cooking. When she pulled the pies out of the oven, they were completely black. My mom and I busted out laughing at the situation. My grandmother got so angry that she took a piece of my mom’s “brick” pumpkin bread and threw it at her head. My mom, in return, grabbed a cupcake and threw it at my grandma. That turned into an all-out war in the kitchen and throughout the house. We started chasing each other and throwing bits of pumpkin at each other until all three of us were covered and we had a huge mess to clean up.

I think back to that day whenever I bake any of my grandmother’s pumpkin recipes. We had to buy our dessert that year, but the memories of that Christmas with my mom and grandma will last a lifetime.

I want to hear from our readers. What is your perfect holiday? What are your holiday secrets? Let’s continue the conversation below. Have a wonderful holiday!

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