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Holidays in the Kitchen: A Poem

It's a chilly December night

My brother and I are already ready

With our two trays, parchment paper

Festive pajamas, his with a gingerbread man

Mine with snowflakes

And a bit of Christmas spirit

Made stronger by the flickering Christmas tree

The tree that inspired our holiday banter

Classic or colored lights?


I see effects of this banter

In the different ways

We make holiday treats

I stick to classic, maybe a little old-fashioned

Yet experimental shapes

He likes to put a little color

In each morsel

Less of the shape, more of the content

Vibrant hues like in Pillsbury Christmas cookies

But clear in their homemade quality.


There's warm, slightly buttery, yet powdery dough

Underneath my fingers

Each imprint I make

Creates little depressions in the dough.


It looks like the moon up close

With its craters and rusty white color

It is imperfectly perfect

Just like my technique.


My mother corrects my technique

And lends me her expertise

Learned, but also from instinct

Structured knowledge from her handwritten recipes

While free form, taking any shape

Pastry bags create crisp, elegant stripes

Like those of homemade churros from my childhood

The satisfying stamping of cookie cutters

Reveals stars, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, and ornaments.


I inhale the now-corrected, shaped dough

Taking in the scents

Formerly enclosed within

Now rising slowly

A mixture of sweet, spicy, and slightly nutty

Sugar, while a staple, is not the dominating force

It is characterized instead by subtle spices

That keep me reaching for more.


Kneading is a personal interaction

With the ingredients I use

I have grown fond of the cold nights

Making a creation

From the magic of my own hands

Or the satisfying swoosh of a mixer

A more mechanical encounter

But equally as magical

In mixing and producing a concoction.


As I put our creations into the oven

I let them sleep

For when they wake up

I know we will eat them right off the tray

Even before they are ready to decorate.