You can learn a lot of life lessons in the kitchen, especially if you are making Christmas Cutout Cookies.

For the past few years, I have attempted to be that awesome mom that bakes and decorates cutout cookies with their kids. After each attempt I have said, “I am never doing that again!” Nothing ever turns out like the pictures I see people post and the experience of doing it with my kids is never what I envisioned. But lo and behold, the holidays roll around again a year later and I start seeing people post photos of their smiling kids decorating their amazing cutout cookies.
I look at these photos and the guilt starts creeping in. I suddenly develop amnesia. I seem to forget about how horrible the experience was the year prior. I get an adrenaline rush and say to myself, “I can do this! This is going to be so much fun!” (I am making you all my witnesses…let this post be for the record…I WILL NOT ATTEMPT TO MAKE CHRISTMAS CUTOUT COOKIES AGAIN!) But lets get to the point here, because there is a lesson in here somewhere. Here is the rundown of what happened….
So someone posts a photo of some amazing looking cutout cookies and the title was something like “Amazing and Easy to Make Cutouts”. I absolutely love cutouts and I hate not being able to do something so I am like, “I got this.” I start to envision this amazing Saturday night with my kiddos and think I am going to dominate this. I bring the recipe with me to the grocery store to gather all the ingredients. I pick up evaporated milk and think, “huh, what is this?” I shrug and throw it in the cart. I double check that I grabbed baking powder and not baking soda…or wait do I need powder?  I call home to see if we have eggs and realize I need butter. As I go down the butter aisle, suddenly something gets my attention. Right next to the butter, are rolls and rolls of pre-made sugar cookie dough. They are screaming my name! I look at them and look away. I look at all the ingredients in my cart and say, “Don’t do it, Kerry.” I turn to start towards the register and stop. I  turn back. I couldn’t resist. I put 4 rolls of pre-made dough in my cart and say to myself, “Just in case.”
The cookie making process started later than I planned, (yes that is my excuse) so I decided to use the pre-made dough. I laid out all the cutouts and rolled out the dough and the kids and I started making cookie shapes and filling up the sheets. Yes! So far so good. See…here is me having fun…
happy cookie making
We got two sheets full and I put them in the oven. Apparently in “Cookie-Making 101” class they teach you about proper spacing on the cookie sheet….well guess what?! I never took that class…so my cookies turned out like this.
Two pans of the amazing cutout shapes that my kids and I worked so hard on morphed into a big blob on the sheet. While we tried to salvage them…the third batch spent a little too much time in the oven. My gingerbread shaped men were actually the color of  gingerbread men…and they were super hard.
burnt cookies
We were now down to batch number four. My last pan…my last chance. The kids and I took our precious time spacing out each cookie so there was no chance they would fall victim to morphing. We then got the idea to make a special cookie in honor of my father who passed away. He was a sailor, so the kids chose an anchor-shaped cut out. It looked like this:
anchor cutout
We put the last batch in the oven and I start whipping up the frosting. It had 3 ingredients. I thought, “How hard can this be?” Well, it is. Getting the right consistency was impossible…it didn’t matter how much sugar I was sifting or how good I was mixing…this frosting looked nothing like the photo and all I tasted was butter. I was so frustrated. Finally, the oven timer goes off and I am so excited to decorate a batch of cookies that actually look like the cutouts…especially the one for my dad.  Except…I think my dad decided to top off the night for us by sprinkling some prank dust down from heaven because this is what his cookie turned out like:
penis cookie
I couldn’t think of a more ultimate fail. Not only did my Christmas cookies morph into unrecognizable blob-like creatures. A cookie that I made to honor my deceased father had come out looking like a penis. Needless to say, we had a lot of laughs with this. Here is my husband having some fun:
But disaster and fun aside…this post does not go without valuable life lessons. Here are 3 things you can learn from my ultimate cutout cookie fail:

1. Focus on what you are good at. 

This is a great example of realizing your limitations and not trying to force something that does not align with who you are. I do not like to follow directions. I am not patient enough to wait for cookies to bake. And I do not appreciate that powder sugar needs to be sifted. I am however excellent at decorating! So next time, someone else can make them and I will add the sprinkles and red hots!

2. Stop comparing yourself with others.

I can not compete with the pins on Pinterest. All of you that can dominate cutouts are amazing and I love that you make them and bring them to my kid’s bake sales because I get to eat the crap out of your cookies. I tried to be someone I am not.  After this cookie-making fiasco, my son said, “Mom, we can just buy them next year.” My kids could care less if we made cookies together. They just want to do something together. I am much better at dance parties and making snow angels.

3. Try, Fail, Try Again, and Know When to Throw in the Towel

I hate quitting and giving up, so I probably won’t. Yes, I said I will not attempt this again but I probably will. Next time, I may enlist some help. Or maybe someone will make them and I will decorate. In life, you get back and try again. Next time you sift the sugar more or try a whole new recipe.  You try, you fail, and you learn. I learned a lot about myself in this experience. It was humbling, comical, and memorable. Failing and falling is not only where you grow from, but it can also be fun.