Daughter’s persistence leads mother to kitchen, victory

This article was originally published in North County News.

I still can’t believe I won.

It was my first time at the annual event and my first attempt at the new-to-me venture.

Yet the credit doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to my 20-year-old daughter and her persistence.

Although I was invited to last year’s party, the thought of scaling steps with my wheelchair dissuaded my attendance. This year, though, my daughter Brittany scouted the route during a college break. She then assured me I could make it into her friend’s home with her boyfriend’s help, two ramps and decent weather.

So when Bobbie’s third annual Cookie Exchange invitation arrived, I responded affirmatively, indicating my featured cookie would be our holiday M&M cookie, a family tradition.

However, when I came up short of the required six dozen cookies, my daughter again persisted with her own game plan.

“Mom, make candy cane cookies,” Brittany suggested.

Ironically, I’d just seen one Food Network star spend most of her show demonstrating how “simple” it was to make those tricky cookies — two colored batters were prepared, refrigerated, rolled, measured, alternatively twisted and finished with precision hooks and snipped ends.

And I don’t even like peppermint.

I shared my reservations with my daughter.

“But Mom, I’m into candy canes this year. Don’t you think it’d be cool? I’ve always wanted to make those cookies. Can’t you try?”

Her age tempered the whine, almost making it charming to see this near-adult plead for something as simple as a cookie.

Before I could raise any more objections, a recipe appeared complete with a color photo. The ingredients soon joined the instructions, and I yielded to my daughter’s tender but strong-willed request.

With Christmas music and evergreen candles, we baked the afternoon away. She finished her snowball cookies long before my candy canes touched the oven racks, but she stayed with me, and we chatted about her life, my life and the plans ahead.

But I did complain. The mess of red food coloring. The brittleness of the dough. The difficulty of alternating those darn two colored pieces.

But a helping hand was nowhere to be found.

“Can you help me twist these?” I asked.

“No, Mom, you’re doing great.”

“But these are for you,” I reminded her. “Can’t you help?’

“I didn’t say I wanted to make them, Mom. I said I wanted you to make them,” she clarified.

Exasperated, I kept twisting and turning, a chore for anyone lacking good abdominal balance. Paralysis often steals trunk control when it permanently relaxes stomach muscles. The simplest midline activities can be a challenge.

“It’s a good workout for you, Mom,” Brittany said.

And I smiled at the young woman, choosing to be charmed again instead of annoyed. After all, it’s the holidays — where grace and charm should rise above the annoyances they often bring.

So when the 14 women gathered around the 26 varieties of cookies adorning Bobbie’s dining room table, I was shocked to learn I won “most festive” cookie.

Brittany beamed.

And my heart warmed. Grateful for the experience, even the unassisted process and unintended workout, I was proud of my cookies and my daughter’s persistent encouragement.

Sometimes we are charmed into a road we don’t wish to travel. We may grumble along the way, even though it may be good for us. But even if we don’t win, we are winners for attempting things beyond our reach.

As we welcome 2008, let’s choose to be charmed and reach beyond our grasp or encourage others to do the same.

The results may be surprising.