Super Fox Sauce: Sugar-cookie therapy. There’s always a second chance
Swatch Watch. Guess Jeans. Vans. These were all hot items in the ‘80s and usually made the cut to most middle-schooler’s Christmas lists. Even though I did get my pricey Guess overalls, that was the ONLY item Santa usually delivered. Despite my perfectly-teased bangs, I discovered Christmas was really about embracing the sugar cookie. Sound confusing? Read on.
Mom and I often asked when someone was grumpy, “Do you need me to channel my inner Betty Crocker…” and bake you some comforting cookies? After a hard day in Algebra 2, Little Debbie’s Star Crunches provided the chocolate I needed to remedy the trauma inflicted by integers. Regardless of my “inner Doctor Oz,” I find chocolates and baked goods to be comforting and healing for a sad heart. However, tragedy would soon strike that would change my 7th-grade Christmas forever. This time, no Star Crunch in the world could appease this tween.
After one last wrapping-paper trip to the drugstore, some urban Grinch broke into our house and stole EVERY perfectly stacked present. This holiday I was taking advantage of my mother’s promise to match the final cost of a beautiful pair of 8-hole Doc Martens. At the time, new Doc Martens didn’t go on sale. They didn’t have to—there were thousands of Cure fans saving their pennies for a chance to showcase their teenage angst. Back when the dinosaurs roamed, there was no Amazon or Zappos—returns and orders were about as easy as canceling Direct TV. In other words, a gingersnap wasn’t going to cheer up this Trapper-Keeper kid.
After hours of mascara tears and declarations to move to Canada, Mom thought she could cheer me up by baking the family sugar cookies, that these sugary treats would replace the stolen gifts and demonstrate the Christmas spirit. However, Mom failed to notice I had already started sewing my voodoo doll aimed toward the Christmas villain(s).
Mom and I slaved for hours in a sugary, nutmeg fog of Christmas-kitchen annoyance. Mom made her best attempt to ignore me by blaring Bon Jovi and later Billy Joel—which was the last straw. Mom and I had an agreement that if I didn’t play the “whiny” Smiths, she wouldn’t play the “annoying” Billy Joel. After all, there is only so much “Uptown Girl” a teenager could stomach.
As my music-fueled disgust started to build, I became belligerent and started to yell, “I can’t believe my Doc Martens were stolen! This is the worst day of my life!” Then my skin started to melt off my bones and magically dissolved into dust. Well, not really, but you get my point.
Mom didn’t say one word. There were no lectures about needy children in Africa or cold, stray puppies. Just quiet. I was surprised at mom’s silence but felt a slight feeling of victory. I wanted her to KNOW the unfairness and despair of the situation.
Driving to my grandmother’s house later seemed an infinite amount of time. We passed a mom pushing a cart carrying a crying toddler. A teenage man sleeping on cardboard under the freeway. But the most devastating thing was an elderly woman in her 70s standing at the red light. She juggled heavy grocery bags, looked lonely, defeated and exhausted. It was as if my mother had planned these perfectly depressing depictions of urban poverty.
I shamefully slumped in my pleather seat. With courage, I said, “I’m sorry Mom. I can always save up my allowance again.” She replied a smug, “Yep. There’s always your birthday and there’s always a second chance.” Even though it was over 25 years ago, I remember those exact words. At the time, I thought that was weird, but now, what she said means something different. I think it means I will always have an opportunity to buy things, and there’s always a way to make it right.
When Grandma opened the door, the smell of pineapple meat permeated the air. She wrapped her arms around me and said, “I’m so sorry about your presents, honey! That is just awful. What kind of person does that during Christmas time?!” I remember responding, “Someone who probably needs it more than me.”