“No more penises!” I yelled at the teenagers. They rolled their eyes, of course, and kept on with their little tubes of icing.
“These are going to priests and rabbis,” I said, waving my arms and splattering red and green ribbons of sugar and lard through the air to smack and stick on kitchen cabinets. In a pristine room of lacquered white wood and stainless steel appliances. One of the two boys looked up at me. I parted the greasy adolescent hair hanging down to his chin in time to see him roll his eyes and smirk. With a deliberation belying his tender years, he chose azure blue icing and with a precise flick of his wrist and two little dots, created another indecent gingerbread man.
The girls giggled, picked up tubes of pink icing, and added curly Ws to the chests of their gingerbread women.
The eight-year-old looked confused until he found a ribbon of gingerbread, shaped it into a snake, smeared it with green icing, and waggled it at a five-year-old who shrieking ran out of the room.
When I came back into the kitchen, the swollen-eyed girl in hand, the teenagers had decorated the snake with penises and boobs.
“Look, it’s ambidextrous,” he said.
“You mean androgynous. Bloody hell,” I muttered. “Where’s the Chrismukkah spirit?”
One of the teenagers piped in, “Don’t worry. We’ll make Mr. Snake two right hands.”
And with that, I sprayed them with multi-colored sprinkles starting a full out food fight.
We had fun. I don’t remember how many of the gingerbread people made it out of the house; my guess would be not many, but that wasn’t the point.
This year, I made nine dozen Pizelles with an old-fashioned press. Some were anise flavored, and some were amaretto-almond flavored. The Italian cookies covered an entire table. The cat, fur flying, fled the hiss of the cooking snowflake-shaped cookies to hide under her chair. I blistered the index finger of my right hand and pinched a blood blister between the two halves of the press. But the cookies made their way to colleagues. They handled the Pizelles with awe. Like they had never seen anything like them before. Or more likely, they weren’t expecting anything so wholesome from me. Especially after publishing a collection of short stories about breasts two years ago.
There’s something about making holiday cookies that I love. Perhaps the teenagers got it correct. It’s the pairing of the cookies with the unexpected, like making your gingerbread people anatomically accurate or gifting my cookies together with a book about boobs.
Go decorate a cookie and have a happy holiday time.

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