We have our landlord and workmen coming today. So I needed to get up and get the Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls dipped. I couldn’t do it yesterday because I had other cookies on racks cooling, and my kitchen – being of the Barbie Doll House variety – counter space is at a premium.
Holy Moly! I forgot how much work it is to make these things. Kind of like childbirth. They’re no ordinary cookie. Mix up, dollop, put in oven and wait. I wish. These require finesse and patience. Something I have in short supply. I must apologize to my Mother here. I started out ok. But then I got tired – like a 5 year old. You’ll see in the photos they’re not quite up to the Candy Field standard. The uniformity is ok, but the chocolate pooling – to be avoided at all cost – is rampant. Seemingly done with abandoned.
But I figure they’re a representation of me. I spent the first 7 or 8 years of my life covered in mud. This is no exaggeration. The neighbors would tell you the same. My Mother could not keep me clean or sticks from my hair. So these balls might look a little wonky, and perhaps imperfect on the outside. But on the inside they’re sweet and they taste just as good as the perfect ones (with a little extra chocolate from the pooling – Bonus!).
But as I was dipping, I was thinking back to Christmas’ past. From the time I was little until the 2000’s, my Mother made everyone in the family pajamas (jammies) for Christmas. We would open these on Christmas eve and sleep in them that night. And it did make for good photos the next day. My parents didn’t have a lot of money back then. My Mom made all my clothes growing up so they didn’t seem that special in those days.
But as I got older, I looked forward to those jammies. Mom would ask me to measure myself – in whatever city I was living in – and send them to her. Jammies would arrive with my Chocolate Peanut Butter balls before Christmas, like clockwork. I could count on it.
One year, my brother was filming a movie in London. He had to relocate his family during shooting and my Mom sent her usual balls and jammies (yes, I heard it) to them in the UK. Only that year she picked up a new fan. Tom Cruise and his family liked the balls, and the blue and white checked jammies. They wanted some too – as the story goes. Measurements were sent and my Mom whipped up jammies in my old bedroom and sent them off.
They were so sufficiently bespoke, that having a grocery store owner from Portland make ‘artisanal Christmas jammies’ said ‘Hollywood Cool’ that year. It’s been a secret all this time – but since it’s more than 20 years ago, I figure the statute of limitations has run out on it. And it’s not her only brush with fame.
My son, Nick, slept in nothing but grandma’s jammies from the moment he was born until he was 7 or 8. And then, just like that, she shut the spigot. No more jammies. I was aghast! How could this happen? I wanted to know.
‘There’s too damn many of you!’ my Dad explained in his own inimitable way.
And it was true. There were too damn many of us. Back then I was sure she had chemical help doing all the stuff she did. The woman still makes me tired and she’s nearly 80 now. But with 4 kids, spouses or significant others, many grand children and multiple great grand children, my Mother was tired and her hands weren’t holding up working the flannel. She had started to make them in the summer to keep up with demand. It had become too much. I wanted to blame Tom Cruise, as I do for all my other shortcomings in life #iblametomcruise but even I knew it was the fact that all of us kept procreating – so I tried to negotiate.
‘What if you just made jammies for the ‘Originals” I begged. ‘I mean – the rest of these people weren’t there in the beginning. The parents can buy store bought ones for the grand kids, etc. But the ‘Originals’. We deserve those jammies.’
But she was having none of it. The guilt would have killed her. She always tries to make everything so dammed equal. Ugh! So I’ve had no homemade jammies since then. But she did make one last white flannel nightgown – at my 97 year old grandmother’s request – right before she passed away a few years ago. I think it made us all feel good knowing grandma was wrapped up in the love my Mom put into that nightgown for eternity – we all knew that feeling our whole lives.
Now that Jeff is learning to sew – he has no idea that soon, very soon I’ll be hitting him with the ‘I don’t really want anything store bought this year. All you have to do is make me a pair of jammies for Christmas.’ I’ll look innocent but the truth is, when I bought him that sewing machine all those years ago, I anticipated this very scenario. Necessity is the mother of invention and when you lose one supplier – it justs requires a little patience – then Wamo! The lesson here is ‘Always play the long game’ even if it takes more than a decade. Jammies are right around the corner for me – I can feel it. Eat your heart out, Mr. Cruise.