Tonight is my Christmas concert. It’s a bit of a wild ride, as I’ve practiced some of what we’re performing exactly once, and some of it not in a long time. A lot of the preparation happened while I was in Italy. I was the only choir member who attended the mandatory “dress” rehearsal earlier this week. I started to hear something about bringing cookies.
As you may know, if you’re a longer-term reader, I bake a huge assortment of Christmas cookies every December. I currently have 10 kinds of frozen cookie dough for slice & bake varieties in my freezer, and I baked 70 cookies last night, to follow the 100 cookies I baked Sunday.
But I gave the 100 cookies to my visiting nephew and his friend (we had them for dessert and then I gave him what was left to take to the mountains.) And nobody said anything to me directly about bringing cookies. If they had said something before I baked my 70 cookies, I’d have rounded up. But the cookies I baked are meant for a commitment tomorrow night and another one the next morning, because last night was the last free time I have until Saturday after that commitment. And I have the nephew and his friend overnight again tomorrow.
So when I got up this morning to find an email from my choir director sent at 11:20 p.m. asking for two dozen cookies (and apologizing for being last minute and saying “I understand if you can’t”), I thought “um, nope.” In the past, I might have tried to make it work. I might have cribbed some from what I baked last night and started baking again tonight after the concert (and the mandatory clean-up activities we’ve been assigned.) I might have tried to wedge it into tomorrow or early Saturday morning. I might have made one of the kinds of dough I have on deck (I keep the kinds that don’t lend themselves to slice & bake for the week before Christmas.) Or, I might have stopped by the grocery store or grabbed some of Mom’s store-bought (for herself, and she’s not attending the concert) cookies from the pantry. But the truth is that if you ask me less than 24 hours in advance when you could have asked me with more notice (we’ve received several emails and I saw the choir director on Sunday and again for the rehearsal. Cookies were talked about at the rehearsal. [The parish choir director suggested that we each bring them in a gift-wrapped shoe box, because that would be more festive than the paper plate the accompanist suggested.]), you’re either aware of the level of imposition, or you don’t much care whether I bring them or not.
Here’s the thing: I love to sing. I’m happy to lend my voice to the choir and to attend scheduled rehearsals. And the choir concerts are a nice thing for the community (to the extent that non-family members even attend). But seriously? I don’t know if these people have any idea how much they contribute to the holiday craziness with all this. Concert + mandatory extra rehearsals + mandatory chores + baking + decorating? I’m not even a mommy, but I recognize mommy-shaming when I see it. I set impossibly high standards for myself (see 170 cookies plus guest hosting, a full week’s work, and on and on)— nobody gets to put a project on my list without my consent. And for once, I. Do not. Consent. I’ll be there, on time, dressed appropriately and willing to sing my best. I’ll even do my chore (picking up the church after the concert). No cookies, no shoe box, and I’m not staying to the end to clean up after the cookie extravaganza.