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December 01, 2003: Something in the air

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I think that, what with the holidays during the fall and winter, we should be given an extra day off of work this time of year. One extra day before Thanksgiving, and one extra day before Christmas (or whatever your winter holiday of choice might be) Ė and the sole purpose of those extra days is to stay home and bake. It can be anything at all. If youíre feeling particularly industrious, it could be a few different batches of bread Ė pumpkin and nut and banana and cinnamon swirl. If youíre the type whoís a bit intimidated by the whole concept of yeast and stirring, swing by the grocery store and pick up a few tubes of those ready-to-bake cookies. And if cooking really isnít your thing at all, buy some pre-made cookies and a few tubes of icing, stay home, and have some happy decorating fun.

Itís always about this time of year that I start to get a little overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. And I do this knowing full well that itís no oneís fault but my own. The problem is that I want, very much, to have the time to do all the baking and decorating and homey sort of nesting that I want, but pesky things like work and choir practice and buying gifts and sending cards and paying bills tends to get in the way. I think that I just need a job where I can take about six weeks off, starting in mid November, and get it all out of my system and then come back the week after Christmas when itís all over, feeling perky and refreshed and ready to get back to the business at hand.

The colder it gets the more I want to either dive into a mad frenzy of holiday baking, or else burrow underneath blankets with books and cats and freshly baked goodies from the previously mentioned baking frenzies. I avoid malls like the plague these days (and am inordinately proud of the fact that this year we were able to get all but a handful of presents online) but the slowly accumulating pile of packages that arrive in uneven intervals on our doorstep, the quick flashes of holiday music I catch on the radio before I quickly switch over to NPR, the smells of gingerbread and cider wafting out from scented candles and bakeries everywhere I turn, and the glimpses of decorations that are slowly making their way up in stores downtown, drag me, quite willingly, into the holiday spirit. I canít help it, after all. Itís insidious, this holiday mood. This is the time of year colored with some of my favorite things Ė pine trees and cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, apples and chocolate. Any long ride alone in my car, where the only tape I ever seem to have at hand is an old Amy Grant Christmas album, is enough to get me dreaming of trees and lights and mulling cider on the stove.

And most of all, it makes me long for days off to bake.

This entry is a collaboration for On Display. This month's (okay, technically this was November's) topic is "spice."

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