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A lesson from snowman cupcakes

Sometimes things come out wobbly, despite our best intentions.

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Don’t you get plaintive Saturday morning phone calls asking you to help break world records? By singing “Jingle Bells”? How hard could this be? My brother and his high school classmates once leapfrogged their names into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1988. This was my chance. More visions danced through my head. The news team crews would surely be there and we would get interviewed or maybe splashed across the front page of the Boston Globe. What a great start to the holiday season!

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Kendra Nordin

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And then I remembered my snowmen. Could I participate in a large, corny, cheerful event and still get my cupcakes done on time? Do Santa’s reindeer know how to fly?? Of course I could!! So off we went.

Although it was fun to sing with Keith Lockhart and Santa and Mrs. Claus we remained ordinary carolers (the next day’s headlines read “Boston comes up short in record caroling attempt“). And now the party was just a few hours away and the cupcakes still unmade. So like any good race where you suddenly realize you are behind, I simply sped up.

This does not – let me repeat, does not – translate well in the baking world. First of all, I messed up the boxed mix, if you can believe that, by adding too much milk. The icing turned out to be off-white. Then the cupcakes didn’t cool fast enough resulting in melting, smudged, depressed snowmen. My sugar-laced dreams dissolved before my eyes.

So I did the only thing left to do. I swallowed my pride and picked up the phone a half hour before the party. Rebecca’s mom, Janell, answered. “I am in the middle of a baking disaster,” I reported truthfully. “I simply cannot offer what I have created. I’m sorry. Is there anything you need that I could … (gulp) pick up from the store?”

There was a pause, and then a laugh. “Kendra,” Janell said, “we have everything we need. We just need Kendra. These things happen. Just bring yourself.” Janell is good like this. She knows when to laugh away our worries.

So I took my patience, self-forgiveness, and good cheer to the party instead. We had a great time, of course, and did some of the best singing we’ve ever done.

And then the next day I took my unfinished snowman tray to an expert: my “4-and-three-quarters years old” niece, Riley. We had a fine time assembling our “snowman family,” mostly eating the snowman accessories but still, Riley didn’t judge. And I didn’t either.

This is a good lesson.

Because if you stay a child at heart, and keep the wonder of all those hopes and dreams alive despite the circumstances, it’s OK if things come out wobbly from time to time. The people who love you will never even notice.

And you’ll still get to lick the frosting bowl.

Kendra Nordin blogs at Kitchen Report.

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