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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Great Christmas Cookie Extravaganza

Sometimes the Christmas spirit is so big it gets the better of everyone, taking it to slightly ridiculous proportions. This is a tale of one of those times.

It started with a batch of Christmas cookies.

Actually, let's go back before that. My second semester of grad school had just ended and I'd just written cumulatively about 90 pages of research. I was (and still am) tired of writing. I suddenly had all this free time, and yet my main time-waster (yelling at all of you on the internet) was not appealing to me. But, huzzah! It's Christmas. And I come from an Italian family with special Italian recipes.

I decided to bake.

But, when I bake, I liveblog on facebook. Because we live in 2013 and I do what I want. Anyway, I posted a picture of my first batch of cookies.

It was no big deal. It's Christmas, lots of people are posting cookies. Aside from a few curious "but why are you putting colored sugar on bagels? questions" people were mostly

The same day, I made another batch.

A few more people liked and commented this time, because I barely can bake two things in a week, never mind a day. Plus, who makes cookies shaped like S?

The final thing I posted that day garnered a bit more attention, and set the wheels in motion for what I was about to accidentally do.

People seemed to be pretty excited about the mint fudge. Enough so that I got a few joking requests for packages. But that didn't seem like a bad idea, actually. I mean, I was baking a lot of food.

The next day, the peanut butter fudge continued the streak. People were freely commenting now. In fact, some of my friends asked me if everything was okay. Like, what was the deal with all these baked goods? Very, very, unlike me. But what is like me is that I'm frenetic and I'm over the top. So, in that way, at least it was fitting.

In the next few days, we made sugar cookies and pignoli cookies as well.

While the idea had taken seed during the pictures leading up to the finished product, the project actually began as I stepped back and took a look at my handiwork. In three days' time, I'd made about 50 dozen cookies and 15 pounds of fudge. Surely, I had way too much.

So, I opened it up for real. If anyone wanted cookies, I posted, they should comment with what they want and I would send it to them. Throughout the day, responses trickled in. I ended up with about thirty requests!

Great! Except I did the math, and Santa's budget this year had enough in it for ten packages. Welp, what can you do? I posted that ten people would receive packages, and I would draw the names out of a hat (my trusty fedora, lol). If anyone wanted to pay their own shipping, I said, they would get cookies, and if their name had been drawn, they would essentially have gifted cookies to someone else, as I'd be able to pull another name.

Makes sense.

Now, knowing my friends the way I do, I don't know why I didn't expect what happened next, but it took me entirely by surprise.

People started donating money (like, a lot of money) to my paypal, so I could afford to ship cookies to everyone who signed up. $20 here, $50 there, $80 from over there. What? In fact, people gave so much that I even had enough to ship a few packages to England and Canada, which basically costs, like, a golden calf or some shit.

It was moving. It was incredible. It was Christmas.

And suddenly I had a lot more work to do. Because apparently all the cookies I thought I had were not an infinite number and after giving packages to school teachers, neighbors, friends and helpers throughout the year, I was...out of cookies and fudge.

So I had to make everything again. Phew. I did it, though, and in just a day and a half, because seriously, how much time can one devote to cookies? (unless one is a baker, of course).

But I wasn't nearly done. Next I had to collect everyone's addresses. I hand wrote them all in a notebook (which I later used for shipping some of you are getting old notes on how much money Catholic Charities needed to secure in 2010 and some of you are getting notes on how to quantitatively survey people for research. Sorry about that). Then I had to make out the cards. Because you can't send cookies without a card. And you can't send a card without saying something personal. So, I spent a little time on them, you could say.

Then I packaged all the orders up, and taped the correct card to the correct bag this morning.

At this point, online, people were really rooting for this project. They asked for updates and readily explained it to others who had just seen one or two statuses about it. There was an excitement to it that I can't recreate here. There was a true Cookie Operation going on, and no one wanted to see it fail.

I got to the post office around noon. I was in my oldest tee shirt. One from my high school graduation that's oversized, and baggy, and says "What a long, strange trip it's been".  And yoga pants. Of course, yoga pants. Because I was going to the post office on a Monday at noon to make up 30 boxes, address them, and send them. That was an acceptable outfit.

Except today (yesterday, since I'm going to post this tomorrow) happened to be the busiest mailing day of the entire year. And the local news station was there to document this historic happening.


I stand at the counter, trying not to look too interesting (normally I'd be all over it, but shirt. Pants. And I'm not sure I'd even brushed my hair). But eventually, since I'd been there, taking out cookies, measuring them, making boxes, packing them, and then labeling them with a really squeaky permanent marker (God, I am so annoying), the report came timidly over.

"Would you mind if I interviewed you?" she asked. "Whatever you're looks...interesting."

I posted the pic of the finished packages and told everyone we would be on the news, and they didn't believe me. Because, honestly, really?

But, yes, that's how I became the lead story (dying laughing forever) on the local news at 6 p.m. on December 16th. Because I made a bunch of cookies, and some of my friends wanted some, and some of my other friends helped pay for them to get there.

Someday I will do something normal. Today was not that day.

GTN - Gainesville Television Network



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