The house of the five cookie monsters
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (WFRV) – Once upon a time in Milwaukee, there was a woman surrounded by cookie monsters.
Her husband and their sons were the cookie freaks.
When they could – when she wasn’t looking – they devoured Christmas cookies straight from the pan before they cooled.
There was only one way for the woman to bake enough Christmas cookies to get through Christmas Day – by the dozen and the dozen and the dozen and the dozen.
It looked like she had made a thousand lots.
“Evie, why are you making so many cookies?” My father would ask.
âBecause of you and your chow-hound sons,â she snapped, but didn’t really mean meanness. His “anger” was as real as Santa Claus.
I heard her âcrackâ because I was there, helping, so to speak.
“Can I lick the spoon?” I would plead.
“Can I lickâ¦ And I guess so, but just this once.” “
Once. You’re right.
Not a spoon would be licked among all those dozens of mixing bowls for dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies.
There was only one exception in the licking. My brother, Ray, had the misfortune of celebrating his birthday on December 21 and he had a hard time licking the spoon of the special cheesecake my mom made for him every year. It was his consolation prize.
My other brothers were already staking the cache of cookies in the attic – pewter after pewter stacked like Mount Everest.
The attic also contained bookshelves loaded with as many tasty titles as my mother was baking cookies.
My brother Charles was a particularly voracious reader. He would enter an area and become deaf while reading, oblivious to the world, or aloud.
âChuck, supper! “Chuckie”. “Mandrel!” “MANDREL!” “Charles!” âCHARLES JOHN GERDS! SUPPER!”
It was when my mom got his full name that he had to kick it out of his reverie.
When Charles was raiding a cookie tin or two in the attic, he was hanging out a bit and reading a book. Chew and read.
I remember when my older brother Quinton was the next person to pick up a book Charles was reading in late December. Quinton was reading in the living room and putting cookie crumbs from his knees into his mouth with a wet index finger. My father saw what was going on and knew. He asked slyly, “How’s the book?”
âMinu,â Quinton said.
Right next to the attic was my bedroom – knotty pine with a cedar closet – done by my father in a sensational carpentry act.
I was ordered to stay out of the attic and not toss Christmas cookies.
There might as well have been a sign on the attic door: TEMPTATION.
I would tiptoe.
I would hold my breath and ssslooowwwlllyyy opened the door.
Opening the tin containers was a difficult part – not making a hissing noise or dropping the lid. JEEPERS! I would be crazy then.
I tried not to be obvious, not to take too many cookies out of each box. But some cans seemed to have mysteriously gone low (the other cookie monsters).
There was no light in the attic, so these acts were often performed only with the light in the hall.
My mother never understood all the snitches.
You’re right. She never said anything about anything missing from her blessed hiding place.
Peanut butter – my favorite.
Oatmeal with raisins.
Meringue – my other favorite.
Anise – my other favorite.
We only decorated one set of cookies. “Waste of time,” said my other. “I have to do more lots without this problem.”
So much the better for the cookie monsters, which were big. My father was 6 feet 3 inches tall – more than tall for his time. The brothers were 6-6, 6-5, 6-2 and 6-1. There were no leftovers in the house with five cookie monsters.
For the anise cookies, my mother had wooden shapes to press the dough. These cookies cooled to the texture of square stones. My father once pulled a tooth out of his dentures – one from the front, of course. This cookie monster roars. ARRRAGGGAAAHHH! He looked more like a Halloween pumpkin than a Christmas host that year, but he was still smiling.
Another year – somewhere in the middle of another thousand batches of Christmas cookies – my dad said, “Evie, you’re baking enough cookies to lead your way from Milwaukee to Green Bay.”
The funny thing is, I took this road all the way to Green Bay, not knowing that one day I would have the chance to write this.
Merry Christmas and grab a cookie.