There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to attend a Christmas trade show and bake sale — part of it seen from the other side of the table.
For some reason, I am quick to spot the tables that feature the home made baking and the canned products. Like a fly to honey, those tables are always my first stop — telling myself every time to just look and not touch and to keep my money in my pocket so as not to increase the girth of my body.
Because I am acquainted with so many people in the community, it is imperative that I salute their talents by shelling out a few dollars for some chocolate chip cookies, butter tarts with raisins (I always ask to make sure there are raisins inside the shell), buns and bread, and always for Housemate — ginger snap cookies with tops that are crackled.
When he shows up at the bake table, he zooms in on the lemon meringue pie and most other flavours of pies. He looks beseechingly at me for permission to indulge and how can I possibly remind him, there in front of friends and strangers, of his diet restrictions. So I relent, on the condition he uses his own money and agrees to at least allow me a slice or two.
And so we wander around the room, seeing other familiar faces, with baking on their tables, and again we cave in.
For the reason that we have little will power, we don’t visit as many bake sales as we once did in this season. I still miss Minto’s cookie walk when customers arrived with empty ice cream buckets to find their favourites on the dozens of tables filled to overflowing. When I express my hope for a reprise of the cookie walk, certain members of the sponsoring group just raise their eyebrows and shake their heads. I guess that means “sorry, but no, bake your own.”
I do regret that we do not buy much else at trade fairs and sales. I’ve been encouraged, yes even told, to start downsizing, so that means I cannot give in to the craving for cutesy knick knacks, knitted items, Christmas tree ornaments and wreaths, geese made from welded equipment parts (bless the ingenuity though), beautiful paintings and sketches, candles, jewellery, perfumes, purses and other fine merchandise.
At the most recent bake sale event, I was honoured to help sell baked goods for Branch 59, Moose Jaw Royal Canadian Legion. I even made my own contributions of baking, snuck in and put in place when not many others were yet present. There’s nothing more deflating when someone picks up a packet of my muffins and mutters “they don’t look very good” and moves on to someone’s banana loaf.
Stealth was used and no one was wiser about what I contributed.
One lesson I’ve learned is that the early shopper gets her/his choice of what’s on sale and this particular Saturday was no exception. Customers came through the doors and few passed by the bake table without at least stopping to admire the display. Some brought their own bags and admitted they were doing their Christmas baking.
I had already done the same thing, selecting a variety of cookies to purchase, showing my co-worker what I would be taking home and putting my money in the envelope. Minutes later I caught my co-worker just as she was about to remove cookies from a bag — the very bag I had put away for safe keeping.
We had a good laugh about her eagerness to re-sell my cookies. After that I moved them further out of her sight but I still kept my eye peeled just in case.
It was a happy time, helping others with their baking and ensuring they had excellent products made by local homemakers willing to share their talents for a worthy organization.
I’m still deciding which of the three packages from my stash contains the best chocolate chip cookies. Such a seasonal dilemma!
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.