It's easy to succumb to the pressure of making the holidays perfect, when often they're anything but.
Pictured here is the Dutch pastry, Banket (bahn-ket). It consists of a delicious buttery crust wrapped around an almond-paste filling. I salivate just thinking about it. Next to my husband, it's my favorite thing about the Dutch.
I finally learned how to make Banket. It is labor-intensive--two days of work, resulting in a kitchen dusted in flour and a sink full of baking dishes. Worth all the effort.
My family loves it, so I make it every year to take to our Thanksgiving celebration. This year I baked early and gently wrapped nine pastry rolls in aluminum foil and put them in the freezer with ominous "keep out" signs on them.
Travel day came. I placed the Banket rolls in a cushioned carrying bag and admonished my husband to carefully place it on top of the suitcases. We handled them like newborn babes.
Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving was the big reveal. Children and grandchildren gathered around the table as I proudly pulled out three of the rolls. The family oohed and ahhed, much to my prideful delight. I cut pieces for everyone and glowed, watching them enjoy this time-honored treat from their Dutch ancestry.
Suddenly, I jumped up from my chair and shouted, "I just sat on the Banket!" I had placed the carrying case on my chair and inadvertently sat on them. Had been sitting on them for about five minutes!
Oh, the hoots and hollers and laughter. The kids went crazy and the grandkids thought it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen from Grandma. One videotaped the whole disaster of me alternately crying and laughing.
The Banket? Flat as a pancake. So pitifully thin. All that hard work to make them light and fluffy. All that effort to transport them from Arizona to California. All wasted.
So much for a perfect Better Homes & Gardens Christmas. I'm guessing all my readers have similar instances of disastrous attempts at perfection. (I'd love to hear some of them in the Comments section.)
Perfection vs. Reality.
Think about the first Christmas. Mary and Joseph probably wanted to welcome their baby, God's own Son, in a perfect setting surrounded by loving family. It was not to be. Jesus was born in a lowly stable, far from home and surrounded by animals. God's plan for perfection differed from mankind's.
For me, my Banket fiasco was a reminder to tone down the pride and the desire for perfection.
By the way, the kids said from now on, it will be called, "Butt-ket." Our Dutch ancestors are rolling over in their graves. Sigh.