I do not function well in chaos. Everyone who knows me well, knows this to be true.
It's the primary reason why I am so annoyingly tidy and organized. I am happier, less stressed, more productive and definitely more clear-minded when the environment around me is clean and neat.
With the exception of the Christmas Cooking Baking Marathon weekend. Then I am anything but tidy. The aftermath leaves the kitchen looking as if some sort of gluten war had been fought, a food-fight, as it were. If not a full out war, then at least a particularly ugly battle.
There is an organization of sorts going on in my mind at all times. And in truth I know where everything is. I could, if asked, tell you the location of every ingredient, every measuring spoon, every recipe, each zippy bag and marker pen at any given time. But if you were foolish enough to walk in our front door in the midst of bakathon, you would think that you had stepped into an insane asylum or an alternate reality. But one that smelled really good, of course.
There were literally stacks of butter blocks, cartons of eggs, opened bags of flour, various sorts of sugars and jar after jar of spices everywhere. Sprinkles and food colouring and spatulas of every shape and size surrounded me. Packages of walnuts and pecans, chips of every description, and cookie cutters galore.
Ours is a relatively small kitchen and most of the time that is a non-issue. But during the baking marathon, I don't bother to put away the things I require between uses. Of course not. Odds are really good that I am going to need that (insert product here) again later for a different batch. So I just leave it out on the counter. And I know exactly where I left it so I can grab it when I need it again. But of course, nobody else has a clue.
The - oh let's call it a type of loose organization - during the bakathon is absolutely present, it's just subtle. Ingredients not being used at the moment are to the right of the sink. Clean dishes are on the tea towel to the left of the sink (dirty dishes are obviously IN the sink). The products I need for the next batch are on the peninsula to the right of the giant pastry board. The mixer is on it's adorable little rollaway cart at the end of the peninsula. Cookies that are either awaiting further decoration or are cooling are on the kitchen table. Specialty ingredients (the ones I only need for a single batch) are on the counter top to the left of the stove. The zippy bags and marker pens are on the kitchen chair at the bay window. Extra newspapers (I make way too many cookies to bother with cooling racks...layers of newspaper work!) are on the other chair at the bay window.
The cookies that are already finished? Oh those are lined up, in carefully labelled zippy bags, on the bed in the guest room; one line of cookie bags per kiddo household. Extra cookies? Oh those bags are on the living room sofa. Why? Well I"m not using it for anything else at that particular moment, so why not?
In short, it looks crazy. And untidy. And frankly, not organized or tidy or neat or any other word that most people associate with me. And yet, during cookie making weekend, that's how I roll. And it stays that way until all of the cookies are baked. If it takes two days, then it remains that way for two days...a 3 day bakathon means the kitchen is a disaster area for three days. How on earth do I sleep knowing how messy my kitchen is?
In truth, for many years at the end of every baking marathon day, I would completely clean the kitchen and put everything away and then next day haul it all back out again. That's kind of crazy and a real time-suck. To make the best use of my time during this cookie making frenzy, I need to let go of the unimportant things and stay focused on the important stuff. In this case, the cookies.
Of course, the instant it's all done, I want to cleancleancleancleanclean. AND what's more, I usually do. But something has happened as I've gotten older, wiser, (and more tired). I've realized that the entire world will not come to a screeching halt if I wait and start the big sandblast worthy cleaning the next day. And so this year that is what I did.
Friday, we made 7 different kinds of cookies! On Saturday we made 8 different kinds! By end of day Saturday, after I loaded the dishwasher, I stood in the middle of the floor and looked at the kitchen. I made note of the sticky floor, the bottles and boxes and jars and bags of this, that and the other thing. I saw the stack of dirty cookie pans and the filthy counter tops, water spotted backsplash and crumb laden kitchen table. My head said, "Time to get cracking on cleaning!" Then I thought about how much my back hurt and my feet and legs ached (from standing on tile floors for eleven hours) and my hands were stiff and sore and my head hurt just from fatigue I think, and said to myself, " You know what? It'll keep."
And you know what? I was right. All of it was still right there waiting for me this morning. No elves came in the night to clean it up. No worries. I knocked it out today with a smile, fresh energy and a better attitude. The kitchen once again looks as it did before the baking began. The cookies are boxed and ready to go to UPS tomorrow. And the annual Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon was, once again, a success.
And I'm back to being obsessively tidy. It was just an intermission. Or perhaps, considering the mighty battle that was fought, we should just consider it, a truce ;)
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.