Betty, Betty! Get Out of My House!

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Help! I’m being haunted and hunted down by Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart! (And Betty Crocker isn’t even a real person; she’s a brand!)

I used to be one of those super moms. Everything had to be made from scratch. And I was good at it. I was trained by a mother who baked her own bread and rolls, canned vegetables from her backyard garden, and made jelly. She froze corn (a very long, sticky process), and made grape juice. She even tried making ketchup once. She made a lot of our clothes. She tailored a wedding dress for someone once and sewed the most beautiful costume for my niece’s part in the Nutcracker ballet. Mom is wonder woman.

I tried so hard to follow in her formidable footsteps. For a while, it seemed I was heading in the right direction.

My two young children shared in the fun as we divided up dough and created delicious cinnamon rolls. Many times we would even invite some friends’ children or neighborhood kids to make goodies with us. Here’s some dough and a tin pan; go for it! (I still believe to this day that every child should experience the aroma of homemade bread in the oven AT LEAST ONCE).

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At Christmastime, even on our small budget, we made a variety of cookies to share with family, friends, the mailman…decorated, packaged beautifully, and delivered with joy.

As our family grew, the traditions continued. Grandchildren were coming now. Once a year many of my grandchildren joined me to bake Christmas cookies to eat and give as gifts.

Life happened and it wasn’t altogether kind. Tragedy, loss, crisis, disease…fatigue. Aging. Frozen pie crusts. Paper plates. Shortcuts. Guilt.

Mom is in her 70s and is still baking bread and making jelly. She sews things for people at a nearby hospital. She makes her own sandwich spread. You’ll find nothing better at any store, I’ll tell you. Her apple pie is yet unrivaled. But I cannot live up to that. And you know what? I don’t care!

Why? Because as much as I enjoy knowing how to do those things in case I ever want to, I don’t want to. I want to write. I want to go out for coffee with friends. I want to sit in front of my TV watching my favorite shows – munching on my store-bought cookies. I want to spend more time with the grand kids who are living with me. I want to go to the park or the mall or read a book. I just want to do my own thing. So why all the guilt?

I grew up thinking that a good woman does this; a good woman does that. I tried to fit a mold that wasn’t mine. It still causes a bit of anxiety when I think that Mom might find out that we just had Stouffers lasagna! I can barely mend a seam if it gets ripped. Ugh.

And I don’t want to bake six different kinds of cookies this year for Christmas! Do you think the sky will fall if I just make a few and even use refrigerated dough for one of them? Nope. I can already tell you that, while all of my shortcuts have caused a little disappointment at times, we have survived. And in better emotional shape, because I haven’t tired myself out trying to make everything perfect, then feel like a grumpy-grouchy Scrooge and ruin everybody’s holiday. (or any other day).

I mean…hey, what’s that saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.” ? Is that it? Well, I’m here. I’m not in an ideal place, but I’ve learned to cope the best I can. If Betty Crocker doesn’t like it, she’s just going to have to get over it. ‘Love her recipes, but she’s still not my boss.

Excuse me while I go wrap put Christmas presents in gift bags.

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