Baker’s Daughter

Snow began to fall as noon recess ended. When the bell rang, I reluctantly fell into line at the school door with the rest of my first-grade class. At Sister Donna’s signal, we obediently marched into the building, up a set of stairs and into our classroom. Going straight to the windows, we admired how beautiful the playground looked with a thin blanket of snow.

The first flakes of snow that December afternoon were large and had fluttered slowly to the ground. Sister Donna passed out work pages, but my classmates and I kept turning toward the windows. She begged us to pay attention. The snowflakes soon became small and dashed rapidly to the ground. All we could do was watch in excited fascination. A house on the far side of our playground turned into a gray shadow.

When the third recess bell rang, everyone in my class rushed to go outside. We formed lines and shuffled through the snow-covered playground, leaving long, snake-like trails. Our hats turned white while an inexplicable joy filled our hearts.

Daddy drove into town to collect us after school as usual. My two sisters and I climbed into the back seat while my high school-aged brother sat in the front. The windshield wipers were click-clacking back and forth, but doing a poor job of keeping the wet snow off the glass. Daddy drove slowly. I noticed that the road, ditches and fields were all one color, white. My brother said, “The wind is picking up. We probably won’t have school tomorrow.”

The minute I stepped into our farmhouse, I happily sniffed the scent of sugar, butter and vanilla. Mom had spent the morning baking our Christmas cut-out cookies. Without bothering to take off my coat or boots, I ran into the kitchen. On the counter Mom’s roaster was heaped with hundreds of cookies shaped like stars, Santa, reindeer, bells and wreaths. My sisters and I would spend the evening decorating them with sprinkles of colored sugar!

All thoughts about the snow left my mind. After supper Mom cleared the table and brought out a large assortment of colored sugars, red cinnamon dots and small silver balls. Then she sat down and began to frost each cookie. Working quickly before the frosting set, I took a wreath and placed a few red cinnamon dots on it, then covered it with sprinkles of green sugar. My sister trimmed a Santa cookie with red sugar and chocolate sprinkle boots.

When the milking chores were finished, Daddy came into the house and reported, “The snow is already knee deep. Now the wind is blowing it into drifts.” I peeked out of the kitchen window. By the yard light, I could see a huge drift next to the shed. It reached all the way up to the roof line.

My brother’s prediction from the day before came true. School was canceled because of snow.

While we had many cookies in the house, we couldn’t eat them. They were for Christmas, still a couple weeks away. The only ones Mom let us have while decorating were those that had broken or were too brown around the edges.

We were snowbound, so Mom decided it was a good time to do more Christmas baking. She began to mix the batter for chocolate chip cookies. Feeling safe, warm and happy, I sat at the kitchen table watching her break eggs into the bowl, stir in sugar and flour. When she opened the chocolate chip bag, my mouth watered.

After dumping the chips into her mixing bowl, Mom handed me the chocolate chip bag and said, “You’d better check the bag to see if it’s empty before I throw it out. If you find any, you can have them.” I took the bag from her. To my great joy and delight, I found three or four chips in one of the corners.

On that snowy day in my childhood, I slowly savored each chocolate chip and thought about how lucky I was to be a baker’s daughter. Even though I couldn’t always immediately eat Mom’s treats, I felt nourished by keeping her company while she worked, by watching how she did things, and by the heavenly smell of the constant stream of bread, cakes and cookies she lifted out of the oven.

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