“I’ve got a surprise for you, Tess.”
There was a blush on Mom’s cheeks and a sparkle in her eyes that I hadn’t seen for months. “What is it?”
“Have a look.” She brought a brown paper bag from behind her back and placed it on the kitchen table.
“Ooh, this is so exciting.” Money had been tight since Daddy died and I knew that whatever was in the bag had cost Mom extra hours at work.
I dipped my hand in and ran my fingers across a cold rectangular block. “This feels like butter.” I lifted it out and placed it carefully on the table. Next out was a bag of flour and a bottle of vanilla essence. “I know what we’re doing.” I shouted, swinging her across the room. “We’re baking Christmas cookies!”
Mom and I adored baking but hadn’t been able to do any for ages. “Here’s your apron.” she called, throwing it across the kitchen.
“We need the right music to bake.” I said as I flipped through radio channels. “Definitely carols.” It didn’t take long before Angels we have heard on high, filled our space.
Mom listened for a moment. “That’s an idea. We’ll make angel cookies.”
She weighed the ingredients and I tipped them into the bowl, sieving, stirring, kneading and rolling until I had a golden circle of dough on the surface before me. The sweet smell of cinnamon, almond and vanilla warmed the air and my tummy growled. “It smells so good and they’re not even cooked yet.”
Mom smiled and dug the angel cutter out of the drawer. “You cut and I’ll lift them on to the baking sheets.”
The cutter was silver and outlined an angel with spreading wings and hair to her shoulders. I pressed it into the dough, this way and that, fitting in as many as I could. Then I rolled out the scraps and repeated the process. When done, we had 63 angel cookies.
“You go and bath, Tess. I’ll pop the first batch in the oven.”
“Ok, but don’t ice them without me.”
We finished decorating the cookies three hours later. Each had a gown of pure white icing and wings of sparkly dust and silver balls. Their eyes were tiny currants and their lips were slivers of cherries. “These are the best.” I stood back and admired our handiwork. It felt amazing to be baking again and I couldn’t wait to taste them.
“Now what are we going to do with 63 cookies, Tess?”
Mom had other plans. “We’ve had great fun baking, but I think there are other families who would enjoy these. Let’s wrap them up and go and play secret Santa.” Seeing the reluctance in my teenage features, she frowned slightly. “God looks after us, Tess. There are people in this street who have nothing to look forward to this Christmas.”
“But we don’t have much ourselves.”
“We have enough. Besides, when we give on God’s behalf, He sends us even more seed.”
It was midnight by the time we were ready and soft drifts of snow were falling across darkened homes. Mom and I ate one cookie each and I placed one next to my bed. The remainder was divided into batches and we made a list of where they were to go.
“Don’t slip, Tess.” Mom and I stuffed giggles away as we tiptoed down the street.
“You’re right, Mom. This is such fun.” We left the parcels tucked by front doors and I tried to imagine the delight when people found their surprise the next morning.
I kept the last angel cookie by my bed; a reminder of the cookie seeds we’d sown.
It was early on Christmas morning that Mom burst into my room. “I told you God looks after us!” She exclaimed, tugging at my covers. “Come and see this!”
Piled up by our front door were several bags of food, a cooked turkey and some gaily coloured gifts. I fell on my knees next to Mom, digging through everything. “This is awesome! Look at these candies, and all this fresh fruit, and there’s even a small Christmas cake!”
Mom laughed out loud. “We’re going to celebrate, Tess.”
We carried everything into the kitchen and then I turned to Mom. “There’s plenty here. Why don’t we ask the neighbours to come and eat with us?”
Her smile came from deep within. “I was just about to suggest the same thing.”
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