How did I used to write here every day? Multiple times a day? Sometimes I really miss those simpler times where everything was documented. But I’ve documented every single cookie swap so far, so I wanted to document this one, mostly for posterity’s sake.
If you’ve read here for a long time, you know that my cookie swap is probably one of the most important Christmas traditions to me. I started in 2010, not thinking about if I’d make it a tradition or not, but in 2011, one of my friends asked if I’d be having it again that year, and a tradition was born![2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | fuck! apparently I didn’t write about it in 2019]
Especially since my mom got sick in 2015, it has been a slice of normalcy when the holiday season feels anything like normal to me. It’s the new normal, and I guess I’m getting used to it with this being the sixth fucked up season for me, but there will always be a Carol-shaped hole in the holiday season for me.
Early on in the pandemic, I wondered what things would be like by the holidays. Would I still be able to have my cookie swap? [Yes, there are much bigger issues in the world right now, but missing your usual traditions is completely valid too.]
Things are…no bueno in LA right now, and most of the country obviously. This fall, I kept saying to my friend Kate, who lives upstairs from me and is my pod, “if we have to do it just the two of us, I’m fine with that, too.”
But one of my friends asked if I was doing it this year and that was all the encouragement I needed! I have been taking this all very seriously, and I know we all have very different risk assessments right now. I didn’t want to put any of my friends in a place where they felt uncomfortable doing this while also feeling uncomfortable saying no. I emailed a very small group of friends who I knew were also taking similar levels of precaution and told them I’d love to be able to do a small cookie swap outside (god bless LA)—but I also 100 percent understood if they didn’t feel comfortable. And with things changing so rapidly, I told them I also totally understood if their comfort level changed. Thankfully, everyone was in and comfortable.
So, it was next really important to me to do this as safely as possible. I remember early on seeing guidelines to avoid sharing food, and I figured better be safe than sorry. I asked my friends to pre-portion in their cookies into bags, and I created little goodie bags for everyone with their own food—chocolate covered pretzels, little charcuterie packs, little champagne splits and candy canes, of course.
Me: Yeah I don’t think I have much Christmas spirit this year.
Also me: has seen Elf four times in the past month.
I’ve tried so many years to be ambitious with my cookies, and inevitably I fuck them up and it stresses me out more, so I’ve finally learned to go simple. I do the NYT Basic Sugar Cookie recipe now, with a cream cheese frosting with crushed candy canes. If you need an outlet to get frustration out, may I recommend pounding the shit out of some candy canes?? It’s incredibly satisfying.
*It should be said that I KNOW BETTER THAN TO HAVE MY MASK UNDER MY NOSE, BUT IT FELL IN TAKING THE PIC AND I DIDN’T NOTICE UNTIL LATER. (I always think of this meme when masks are under noses.) Lucy mask is from this site, and honestly it’s not the most breathable but it’s cute.
We met in the park behind my apartment and sat six-plus feet apart with our masks on, except for eating.
Obviously Lucy was invited.
When I walked Lucy later that night, the sunset was absolutely magical, and I cried happy tears, feeling so so grateful to be able to continue my tradition and to have great friends in my new city. (I’ve now been here for more than a year and a half, but I’ve now lived here longer in a pandemic than not, so it still feels new-ish to me.)
Like I said, we all have different levels of risk assessment right now. Some of you might think I took excessive precaution; some of you might think I didn’t take enough. I only socialize with Kate and her husband inside. I’m not going home for the holidays (which breaks my heart, but if it keeps my family and others safe, it is so worth it so that I can see them next year), so if I *am* going to see others, I’m going to do it in the lowest-risk possible way. I read this article about considering a harm reduction model re:covid (a concept used in substance use treatment). Quarantine fatigue is real, and it’s just seeming so apparent that preaching “abstinence” is being ignored by so many people that, instead, let’s figure out the absolute safest we can be.
Whatever you do, please be safe this holiday season and sending love to anyone for whom this week will be hard. It’s almost over!!! Do whatever you need to get through.