For most people, Christmas is the time of year when you spend time with your family and friends, remember all the good things in your life that make you grateful, and enjoy the spirit of goodwill that falls over everyone. But for Minine, Christmas has always been a good excuse to go mental about bakin’.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I never seen a shortbread cookie, date square, mint roll, or peanut butter ball I didn’t like. From about the second week of December through until about the second week of January, I’m loadin’ up on cookies and sweets like there’s no tomorrow. And Minnie really is one helluva baker. She can make just about anything, and it’s all so good it’s impossible not to stuff yourself on it for a month straight.
No, the part I’m talkin’ about is the part where she goes mental about it. See, Minnie’s brother Cyril’s wife Joan is in this ladies auxiliary group and every year they hold this big Christmas bake sale. Which is great – the money gets donated to an adopt-a-family program so it’s a good cause.
Joan always gets a bunch of people she knows to bake stuff for the bake sale. And the funny thing about women is, nine times out of ten they’re more likely than men to play a game of whose you-know-what is bigger. I mean, these women get so competitive about their bakin’ you’d think there was some kind of big prize on the line.
So every year, Minnie makes her famous Christmas shortbreads, a big platter of walnut brownies, and a thing of cinnamon rolls. I guess everybody knows they’re her things she makes every year for this bake sale.
Well, I guess Joan got this new neighbour in the summer, Donelda, and ever since then Joan’s been goin’ about Donelda this and Donelda that. When club started up again in September, they even added Donelda to the group.
I could tell right away Minnie wasn’t too crazy about her because she came home from club one night and said – Imagine, puttin’ pickles on an egg sandwich. Tell me that one don’t need to get her head checked.
Readin’ between the lines, I figured Donelda made egg sandwiches with pickles. I thought that sounded kind of delicious, but since Minnie was obviously offended by the whole idea, I nodded along and pretended it was disgusting.
The other way I could tell Minnie didn’t really like Donelda was that she always called her Turkey Lips behind her back. I have no idea what that means or where it came from, but it don’t sound like much of a compliment.
Well, comin’ up on the Christmas bake sale, I guess Joan usually calls up everybody who agreed to bake stuff and tries to make sure there’s a bit of variety, and you don’t end up with ten people makin’ the same thing.
I guess in other years, it’s just understood between them that Minnie’s gonna make her usual three things – the shortbreads, the brownies and the cinnamon rolls. But this year, Joan called her up and went through the list of what everybody else was makin’ – and wouldn’t you know it – Donelda was down for shortbread cookies and brownies.
When Minnie got off the phone, she was mad enough to spit nickels.
What are you gonna make? she asks me, as if I haven’t made the same thing every year! The nerve of that Turkey Lips, movin’ in on my Christmas shortbreads. She can suck eggs!
Only she never said “suck eggs.” She said somethin’ else that wasn’t very Christmas-y.
So for the next week or so, every time Joan would call, Minnie would say she was still thinkin’ about what she was gonna make.
Then she’d get off the phone all upset again. You know what I should do? she’d say. I should tell her since Donelda’s already bakin’ my share, I decided not to do anything this year. The two of them can shove their bake sale right up their chimneys.
Only, again, she didn’t say “chimneys.” It was somethin’ even less Christmas-y that time.
I guess one day she finally told Joan she’d bake some of her cinnamon rolls, since nobody else was doin’ that already. Now, I was in the kitchen when she was on the phone, and it sounded like a nice, polite conversation. But the way Minnie re-told it to her other friends on the phone that day, you’d think they duked it out with switchblades.
And I told her, since you got Turkey Lips bakin’ everything I usually bake, all I’m gonna do is one plate of cinnamon rolls, and don’t ask for another thing! she told all her friends she said.
So, the day before the bake sale, Minnie made her plate of cinnamon rolls and left them wrapped in tin foil on the counter for Joan to pick up.
That night, Joan came in at around 8 o’clock, all a-tizzy.
What am I gonna do? she said. Donelda didn’t bake anything! She said she forgot because her son’s in a hockey tournament this weekend. How am I gonna have a bake sale with no Christmas shortbreads?
Well buddy, I had front row seats for this. I was waitin’ for the fur to start flyin’. I was waitin’ for Minnie to blast her for lettin’ Donelda horn in there in the first place. I thought there’d be hair-pullin’ and and they’d scratch each other’s eyes out.
But you know what Minnie did? She opened the cupboard and got out the flour and the mixin’ bowls and everything.
Then Joan said somethin’ that meant a lot more to Minnie than sayin’ “I’m sorry” ever would have.
She got out the measurin’ cups and said – That Turkey Lips probably can’t bake worth a damn anyway. Who puts pickles on an egg sandwich?