So it was that I never participated in a cookie exchange once I was married and had a family. Why would I take my cookies made with fresh eggs and real butter and every premium ingredient I could afford and trade them for cookies the size of small rocks and hard as bullets even if they were drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze and sprinkled with red crystals? Why exchange my Austrian thumbprint cookies rolled in chopped pecans and filled with raspberry jam for a peanut butter cookie that had been made last week then freshly dusted with powdered sugar to improve its appearance?
I was the only hold out I knew. I gracefully refused every cookie exchange I was invited to for years on end. But then it happened. The ladies group at my church decided to hold a cookie exchange. We were only about thirty strong, and since I knew each of them well and knew them all to be great cooks, I decided to attend.
The quilt I was helping with was nearly finished and I was anxious to get it off the frame so the woman who did the edging could take the quilt home and complete it. Quilts were generally the first things to go once a missionary came to town and I knew there were none left in the supply room. Thus it was that after our leader announced it was time for the cookie exchange, that I stayed behind to finish up the part I had been working on.
I was alone at the quilt frame. A couple of friends reminded me that it was time for the exchange. I thanked them and continued working. I wasn't worried. I'd brought 36 cookies and I'd go home with the 36 that were left. I didn't particularly care which ones they were. No more than ten minutes had passed before I made my way over to the tables that had once been laden with wonderful cookies. What I saw sent my heart plummeting. To all intents, the cookies were gone.
I brought my sad assortment home and showed them to Jim. He asked had I eaten most of them while driving home. I explained that this is what I was left with because I'd been about ten minutes late to the exchange, even though it had taken place in the same room where I was finishing up quilting the area I'd been working on and the ladies knew I hadn't taken any cookies because they kept hollaring at me to get over there.
I nodded in agreement. I'd been duped, I told them. Lulled into a false sense of security. I'd seen it happen with mom's cookies at the Ladies Aid and now it had happened to me. Had I given those lovely cookies to the poor, I'd have been glad. Had I handed them to someone who was homeless, I would have been filled with joy. Instead, I was downhearted. Feeling betrayed by my pals. Yet one principle of life had become clear in my mind that day. I've never forgotten the lesson learned. It is drilled into my being. When it's time for cookies, get at the beginning of the line. Don't lag behind to do any good deed.
Because those who snooze, lose.
Wishing you a crunchy, chocolate-filled, sugar dusted, coconut covered Christmas.