Pssst…a cookie exchange is not about the cookies…
Just before the holidays, an idea popped into my brain to host an outdoor cookie exchange with my fellow neighbours. After sending out a few emails, 12 of 14 homes would be home for that Friday night! As I reflect on the experience, I see more clearly how the cookie exchange isn’t really about the cookies. Read on…
Before the cookie exchange logistics challenges abounded:
How many cookies to bake? 12 homes typically means 132 cookies — 12 for each household(not including your own household) — a tall order. I suggested baking 6 cookies per household or a total of 68 cookies. Even that amount of baking had some pushback. I sought the guidance of a cookie exchange guru. She suggested either 4 cookies per household or create smaller groups of households to conduct the exchange. We finally settled on baking 4 cookies per household or 44 cookies. Still a lot of cookies but manageable.
What cookies to bake? My wife and I learned that making really good snickerdoodle cookies isn’t as easy as it sounds. Initial taste tests from the Cookie Monster (that’s me) indicated a modest taste. My wife was not interested in modest tasting cookies so round two of the bake off included jelly-filled cookies with icing on top. Much better.
How to do deal with the pandemic? One family wasn’t able to attend the event — the son was isolating because his classmate tested positive. While the family was disappointed, they would leave their cookies at our doorstep for distribution. I was disappointed that their son wouldn’t be able to attend the exchange. But I had other plans…
The big day arrives:
On Friday, December 18, the families came together, assembling their cookies in various colourful packages. We enjoyed the cookies and the mulled wine. The kids enjoyed running around outside. The new neighbours were delighted in the community spirited that abounded. If we didn’t have the event, I’m sure they wouldn’t have met the other households until the springtime.
More than just cookies:
The cookie exchange yield so much more benefits than the cookies themselves…let me explain:
• Finding ways to be grateful: No doubt about it — The temperature that night was COLD. However no wind led to a very enjoyable evening. No wind = something to be grateful for.
• Re-framing your perspective: I woke up in the middle of night to a painful gout attack — my left big toe was throbbing in pain. I deduced that too much sugar and mulled wine created a breeding ground for gout. Instead of being upset, I reminded myself how quickly things can get out of hand when I’m not mindful. I quickly got back to my healthy eating.
• Transforming Non-bakers into bakers: A couple of households were non-bakers, but they decided to participate anyway. The ability to inspire and get people to take up the challenge was wonderful to see.
• Flip the COVID into a positive: While one family couldn’t attend because of possible COVID exposure, we decided to bring the community spirit to their doorstep. We rambled over to the family’s house and we each dropped off their cookies on their doorstep . A very short rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” ensued. Who said holiday cheer was only reserved for those who attend the exchange?
• Taking out the trash: The community spirit on display that night inspired a new neighbour to clean up the leftover garbage at the end of the roadway. Hooray!
What community spirit gave you seen? Share your experiences in the comment section and let others learn from you.