prose sketch: decorating Christmas cookies

Sun 16 Dec 2012 1:30 p.m. my kitchen

The kitchen table in its windowed bay has become Kimmie’s atelier. The artisan sits in “my” chair, a green Christmas-themed apron draped down her front and back, bent over a yellow star cookie, piping further yellow decoration onto it. Now she peppers it with yellow sprinkles, tapping lightly. And back to piping, gripping the icing-bag in her right hand like the teat of a cow, and directing its steel tip back and forth with her left index finger.

The round table is almost completely covered with things: magazines lying stacked and open this way and that, showing the example images; wax paper with the complete stars accumulating on it; two stacks of Christmas CD boxes; a big can of completed gingerbread cookies; a transparent bag of toasted Chex-‘n’-Cheerios snack mix, made by Robin; a vase from which branches of holly lean, gathered from the lawn of a nearby house where the owners thoughtfully prune their berry-laden tree each year at Christmas and leave the trimmings with a “free holly” sign; Kimmie’s big Ikea water-stein; the clay fruit-bowl, pushed to the edge of the table, with its lone mandarin orange; last month’s National Geographic magazine; and a stack of flyers and things mostly hidden behind the vase. All the chairs now bear cargo as well, and the tight space of the floor: a plastic garbage-can of flour; the two stages of Kimmie’s big, professional cake-decorating kit.

I stand at the kitchen counter, a little bamboo cutting-board for my desk. The counter too is cluttered with decorating paraphernalia: paintbrushes, nozzle tips, icing sugar, toothpicks dyed with colors. No Christmas music on just now: a gap. Even the fridge has shut off, leaving only the crackle of the icing-bag in Kimmie’s hand, the jingling of the chimes outside the front door, and the purr of traffic rolling by.

The artisan bends patiently over her work, squeezing, squeezing.

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