Ping. Clang! Clang! Ping.
After another round of hammering, hoping that this time the tree would be successfully attached to its stand, I backed away, let go…and watched the tree slip down to the ground. Again.
I clenched my fist tight around the hammer. “I will not buy a different stand. Stupid tree, stupid stand. I hate Christmas. Stupid Christmas is canceled!”
Again, I grabbed up the tree. Stuck my knee up against the branches in order to hold the entire 5-6′ Douglas Fir wedged against the metal stand. Theoretically, this stand was supposed to make putting up a live tree easier and more stable since these two little prongs on the bottom were supposed to be hammered into the tree and then a brace running about a foot up the trunk was screwed in place. Theoretically.
As I took my frustration out on the tree and let it be known to all my neighbors I couldn’t help but remember the time someone told me “I don’t know that you’d be a good fit there. They’re kind of polished.” Humph. A moment had passed and then the other person we were with had chimed in “But, that’s good because we don’t like polished.” Hmp.
I stopped hammering, backed away and the tree stayed attached. I grabbed the trunk’s middle, mumbled “let’s hope it stands” and lifted it upright. It stayed, it stayed, it stayed. Christmas was saved. Standing back to admire my tree I sighed.
Not a sigh of relief. The tree is crooked. Not a little crooked — a lot. Why? The two possible culprits are the trunk or me. Not that it got fixed. Too risky. Instead, I put all the heaviest ornaments on one side and put a weight on the stand, but I’m terrified that I will come home to a toppled tree. Which could be the fault of my cat or not the first time I’ve toppled a tree. That’s a story for a different day.
I live in such a tiny apartment that the entire apartment smells like Evergreen Pine needles. I love it. It’s all festive and cheery. I want to strategically scatter around complementary scents of oranges, cinnamon and gingerbread cookies.
Not gingerbread people. It’s not one of my cookie cutters and it’s not on the list of to own. Improvisation was necessary. The Christmas Pineapple was created.
I had intended to outline all the cookies with a thinly piped line of white icing and topped with crystal clear sprinkles. Then I would have frosted pineapples — which doesn’t make any sense. It was going to be so pretty, so polished. I don’t usually make icing because I don’t care for it, but there was a pouch of the ready made icing ready made for piping sitting in my pantry that I thought would be just perfect for this project. Apparently you still need icing tips which all became completely inconsequential as the bag burst while I was kneading it. The icing absolutely refused to smooth. In the end I ended up with pineapples covered in a snow drift. Though only a few because I just became fed up and accepted my Charlied Brown Christmas. Again.
Gingerbread cookies with lemon glaze icing
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
2 ¾ cup flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
⅔ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cup molasses
Mix together flour, baking powder, and spices. Beat together sugar, butter and vanilla until creamy. Add the egg and molasses and beat until blended. Beat in the flour mixture until just blended. According to recipe notes it will look like moist pebbles which automatically gives me an odd image of a person with a mouthful of pebbles. I prefer to think of it as sand because no one would willingly have a mouthful of pebbles. Once it looks like something other than what it is, press the dough into a solid mound then divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350°.
Roll out and cut out dough on a lightly floured surface. Place onto baking sheets. Place in oven and bake until browned – about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
For so simple lemon glaze icing:
juice of half a lemon
1-2 spoonfuls powdered sugar
Combine together and brush onto cooled cookies.