jackson pollock cookies
December 22, 2007

It's Mom's idea.

"Are we going to make cookies this year?" as if that's something we do every year, as if I didn't make enough Christmas cookies two years ago to utterly satiate such desires. But it's Christmas, so, "Of course." Maybe just one batch. "Make the kind I like with the icing," shouts Dad from underneath the newspaper in the next room. So, maybe more than one batch.

The plan is that we'll wrap them with cellophane and ribbons and distribute them around the neighborhood, serve them on little silver trays at social gatherings and deliver the balance in a pretty Christmas tin to Granddaddy once we've made our Boxing Day trek to Florida. This is the plan, but the closest we get is twice dumping cookies onto platters before shoveling them into our mouths along with a host of other holiday indulgences (one memorable—or not—evening has the Harts and the Drakefords consuming a full cheese spread, feast of shrimp and rice, something like six bottles of wine, half a bottle of scotch and perhaps two-thirds of the cookie supply). When we get to Florida, I realize Mom has packed one lone chocolate chip cookie. Bryan wastes no time in eating it.

But it's just as well, because as it turns out, these are not your average mouth-watering cookies. These are a bit more...adventurous.

My stomach sinks when I realize I've forgotten to oil the cookie sheet for the toffee. "This might not work very well," I say, optimistically. And then I start hacking away with a knife, trying to get the (very good) toffee to extricate itself from the pan. When I've drawn blood twice, Mom takes over. In the end we end up with a surprisingly substantial pile of toffee (but a good bit of pulverized nut and caramel, as well).

Then there are the sugar cookies:

"Which one do you think it ugliest?" Mom asks, surveying our work, then chimes right in with, "I think it's that candy cane one you made." "What about your Japanese flag? What's Christmasy about that?" "Well, what is that one even supposed to be?" I'm a little unwieldy with icing on a knife. "It's like Jackson Pollack. People pay money to see works by Pollock." "Hmm," says Dad, wandering through and eating the offending cookie. Mom follows suit with the sun flag. Then she eats that very messy candy cane.

"Maybe I like the icing ones best after all."