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What Happens in the Kitchen: A Holiday Confession

By December 20, 2020April 26th, 2024No Comments

We humans like ‘perfect’—perfect hair, perfect weather, perfect kids, perfect WiFi, perfect cheese plates…

According to one website, the perfect cheese plate must have the following:

  1. Homemade wheat crackers…(Seriously?)
  2. Pickled grapes with walnuts…(why pickle poor little innocent grapes?)
  3. Dried apricots and cherry mostarda…(mos-what?)
  4. Toasted nuts and honey…(you mean Cheerios?)
  5. Cranberry licorice compote…(not my compote! What’s compote?)

Bottom-line: I’ll probably just have cheese on my cheese plate (and maybe a few Cheerios.) Definitely, not perfect.

There are, in fact, many things I’ve created in the kitchen that weren’t ‘perfect’ or to be honest, were complete flops.

Take my lumpy gravy or my petrified biscuits or my pièce de résistance, crock-pot sauerkraut meatloaf. The day I made crock-pot sauerkraut meatloaf the smell was so bad I had to open the windows. Thankfully, I wasn’t cited for air pollution or harming wildlife.

You would think after 50+ years in the kitchen I would just make messes and not mess up. However, a few weeks ago my hands were covered in sticky stubborn gunk. I was attempting to make a family Christmas favorite: Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels (without the peppermint.) I’d made the recipe dozens of times, but this time, I sorta ignored the directions.

I zapped the butter in the microwave instead of letting it soften naturally. I forgot to add the sugar (until I tasted the dough!) When I tried to roll a tablespoonful of dough into a 9-inch pencil-like rope (according to the directions which I finally followed), it disintegrated in my hands. I even warmed up the dough, thinking a change in temperature would magically correct my blundering.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

After one hour of futile activity, I wanted to toss the brown blob in the garbage, forget I’d messed up so badly, and never tell a soul. But I can’t stand waste or giving up. So I pulled out my rolling pin, found some cookie cutters, and transformed the blob into hearts, stars, bells, a cross—whatever I could get my gunky hands on. I even threw in a few cowboy boots, some ‘dog bones,’ a gingerbread man and a teapot, for fun. When the cookies had baked and cooled, I dunked each one in a decadent chocolate glaze.

Needless to say, the cookies weren’t perfect—some were unrecognizable, some were broken. The poor gingerbread man lost a leg en route from the pan to the cooling rack.

My time in the kitchen felt like a waste, a complete disaster, something I wanted to forget.

I messed up.


And to be honest, I’ve become one big sad angry anxious mess-up in 2020–just like that blob of cookie dough. Oh, every now and then I can cobble together some encouraging words, maybe weave some pretty sentences together, but deep down inside where it really counts, I’m still a mess-up. I didn’t start the year this way, though. In January, I was anticipating the birth of my third grandchild. Our sweet Molly arrived on Leap Day. One week later, the world started shutting down, and we were left, sitting at home, exiled from each other and ‘normal.’ Bad news became the ‘daily special,’ despair our midnight snack.

Truly, I hope I’m not such a mess-up in 2021. I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect while on this planet. but if there’s one thing I know, it’s this-I do have a perfect Savior, and it’s time I remembered that fact and got off the ‘the couch of hopelessness.’

Friends, here’s the official  GOOD NEWS of all time, pandemic-infested years included:

For God so love the world that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ,

that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16


And here’s my 2021 prayer for you (and myself):

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13


Until next time…





Author Joy Cleveland writes Small Town Contemporary Christian Romances that will warm your heart, feed your soul, and quite possibly tickle 'your funny bone.' A product of small town living, Joy strives to craft characters that feel like family and places that feel like home. Currently, she calls Iowa home. When she's not tapping computer keys, she's playing with grandkids, mowing grass, or chasing her dog. A lover of words, she's published short stories, plays for children, and quirky newsletters. "To Call My Own' is her first novel.

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