A selection of gingerbread cookies decorated just prior to the tablenog incident. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

A selection of gingerbread cookies decorated just prior to the tablenog incident. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: The terrible but tasty tablenog tradition

Let’s hope this custom doesn’t stick

Do you recall a while back when we were all (presumably) excited for the weekend and then we remembered we are in the middle of a pandemic and can’t really do anything and, even if we could, the torrential rain kind of hampered any outdoor activities anyway? That’s the weekend I’m talking about when I say the other weekend my family and I made gingerbread cookies together.

On the Saturday I made up the dough and got it in the fridge to keep the mess at bay. I then invited my family to help me cut the cookies. You wouldn’t believe how much of a disaster a counter lightly dusted with flour and 20 little fingers could create.

In any event, we managed to cut out a dozen or so gingerbread people and a half dozen each of snowmen and candy cane shapes. We also managed to cut out three dozen assorted firefighting shapes including a fire fighter, a fire truck, a fire helmet, a hydrant, and a fire dog. Talk about a Christmas theme! With the leftovers the kids fashioned their initials and various odds and ends: a snake, a suspect looking “boat”, giant recreations of themselves, a barbell weight for their ginger-likenesses to lift; you know, the usual holiday fare. It was a great time and the mess got cleaned and after we baked them, we set the cookies aside to decorate the following day.

The next day came and so did the rain. The children were like caged beasts all day, pacing around the house leaving a painful trail of Lego and puzzles while looking for the next way to get under their parents’ skin.

Their ears must have been out of batteries, like half the toys in the house, and the kids were simply just not listening.

I told them if they cleaned up their stuff we could decorate the cookies. You’ve never seen toys put away faster. It irks me that their ears did work after all. We had one glorious hour of decorating as a family, that is, once I gave up the idea of the cookies looking like they do at the bakery. After that it was fun.

The problem was, a lot of sugar was consumed in the process, leading to somewhat of a chaotic aftermath. If we thought they’d behaved like caged animals in the morning, they were most certainly now feral.

Getting more and more frustrated, my husband and I began barking orders. Those orders were ignored, further angering us. I’d say it was the children’s faults, but really, it was our lack of boundaries when it came to eating cookies and decorations that had caused the sugar possession of their tiny bodies.

I knew the standard commands wouldn’t get through to their candy-filled brains. So, I started giving them tasks they aren’t often asked to do so at least they’d have to think before they ignored me again. I gave them the jobs their father and I tend to take care of.

All of a sudden they were listening. What’s more, they were helping! When they asked for a drink of water, I shocked them when I told my eldest to get the eggnog out of the fridge and pour himself and his sister a cup each. I love giving them a treat when they aren’t expecting it, or better yet, when they know I’m cranky, just to throw them off a bit. Keeps them on their toes.

My husband looked at me quizzically, wondering why on earth I would let my six-year-old pour the eggnog.

I shrugged.

“He’ll be…” I started to say, but, before I could finish my sentence, eggnog was spilling out over the top of a coloured plastic cup, onto the kitchen table and cascading down to the floor.

“Careful,” I finished, with a sigh.

My poor son looked up at me with fear in his eyes. We’d be harping on them about the mess all afternoon and now there was an epic eggnog lake on the table, complete with a waterfall to the floor below.

“Well,” I began, seeing his shoulders tense up. “Don’t just stand there! Drink the waterfall!”

His eyes brightened.

“New family tradition!” I yelled as my son tried to capture the drips in his mouth. “Tablenog!”

My daughter ran over to the spill and looked at me expectantly.

“Get in there!” I exclaimed. “Drink that tablenog!”

Like the puppy she often pretends to be, she began to lap up the eggnog lake on the tabletop.

Their worry turned to joy as the kids “cleaned” up the spill that just seconds before, they were sure they’d be in trouble for.

“Accidents happen,” I reminded them.

It’s not so much about making the mistakes, it’s about how we react when we make them.

That spill flipped the switch on what had been an up and down day. All it took was a litre of eggnog.

It was a heck of a mess that ultimately took four dishcloths, a towel, a mop to clean up, as well as showers for both of our beyond sticky children, but it just might have been the highlight of my day.

I just hope nobody asks to spill the eggnog again next year.


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