For the first time, my daughter Molly was old enough to participate in the Means family tradition of decorating cookies on Christmas Eve.
Ever since my husband was a little boy, his mother would make Christmas cookies and the whole family would decorate them and then sit down for a meal of her amazing lasagna.
We were far from family that year. Still, I wanted to give Molly a little taste of what her daddy’s holidays were like.
What I most likely gave her is a memory which I can only pray she has permanently blocked from her childhood.
As soon as we broke out the rolling pin, I turned into a terrifying cross between Martha Stewart and Mommy Dearest. I ranted and raved. I demanded she cook like Bobby Flay and frost like the Cake Boss.
I didn’t teach her how to make and decorate cookies. I became controlling and impatient. I complained about her “mistakes” and the mess she was making.
Over the years, I’ve learned to relax and enjoy instructing my children. Teaching them traditions and life skills is better than any holiday gift I could give them. In reality, it gives us both gifts that will last a lot longer than a tray of holiday cookies — no matter how perfectly they’re decorated.
We stress so much about the latest toy or electronic device to get our kids for Christmas. But these gifts are ones that make a truly lasting impact and can be given all year round:
The gift of togetherness. Teaching kids requires time. If I wanted expertly frosted cookies, I should have ordered them from the bakery. Good teachers allow — even encourage — their students to make mistakes. It’s how we all learn. And if moms oversee that process lovingly and with a sense of humor, it brings parent and child together and makes for special memories.
The gift of perseverance. Teaching children takes resolve. So does learning. It requires patience on both sides. But as the parent, we’re their model for sticking with it — even when it gets hard. I’m so thankful that God does not give up on me when I’m slow to learn a lesson. When I ask Him, He give me the perserverance to repeat instructions or re-teach a skill even when I’m tired and/or short on time.
The gift of empowerment. The more our kids can do for themselves, the more their self-confidence rises. As a mom, that can be threatening. It’s scary to think, “They don’t need me!” But if I can put my pride aside, I realize how empowering it feels to influence and equip my children for life.
Jesus was the Ultimate Teacher. He showed people how to do things. He spoke in terms they could understand. He asked questions that helped others figure out answers on their own. He offered grace.
And I guarantee you, in His kitchen, no one gets Chopped.