Boys and their dad had a blast, made memories in the kitchen

December 17, 1998

The other day, in a desperate attempt to keep our three boys from destroying our home and each other, my husband decided to redirect their indoor wrestling match to a Christmas cookie bake-off.

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The Barnhart boys were on their own. Buried in a mountain of college finals, I only could observe what I thought had all the ingredients of a Hollywood disaster movie. You know, where the "Poseidon Adventure" (I haven't had three free consecutive hours to see "Titanic" yet) meets "Twister." But, since my husband only was going to use the cookie mix from a tube - the kind with the Christmas tree in the center - I pictured a minor mess. Perhaps we were in store for something along the lines of an "I Love Lucy" episode.

So the adventure began. The three boys scrambled for chairs that would allow them the proper working height for the cookie creations.


The first major step involved getting the tube open.

"Just a couple of stiff whacks should knock this thing right off!" announced the head baker, after several attempts to twist and pull. Once the cap was off the end of the tube, I had the telephone number of a kitchen counter repair company in hand.

The crew then moved on to slicing the cooking dough ... carefully. Diligent to the task, the cookie makers made one careful incision after another ... until about the third cookie. Then in an "Ahh, the heck with it!" mode, the cookies became different sizes and shapes. And the perfect little Christmas tree in the middle soon looked like mini lightning bolts.

Next came the interesting part. With all the cookies on the cookie sheet, the boys "helped" Daddy sprinkle some sugar on the top of each cookie. With no less than two cups of sugar on each cookie, the boys took delight in swirling their fingers into the sugar, leaving sugar-laden fingerprints in the center of each cookie.

"How about some sprinkles on the tree cookies, daddy? It will look like Christmas lights," asked one son. Out came the sprinkles and on the cookies they went. Each boy, big and small dropped a pinch or two, dousing the cookies in colorful candy.

Cookie construction was complete, and the boys began a new game of indoor tag while my husband successfully finished baking the sugar cookies, without one burned casualty.

It occurred to me as I watched this gleeful encounter between father and sons that this time of year is not just about having a holiday, but cherishing the time spent together. It means sharing a moment where sprinkling cookie dough with sugar is sweeter than we ever could imagine.

You know something? Those Christmas tree/lightning-bolt sugar cookies were pretty good!

Jo Ellen Barnhart is the working mother of three young boys. She teaches at Frostburg State University and Hagerstown Community College and consults in public relations and marketing. Write to her in care of The Herald-Mail Co, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md. 21741.

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