Gather 'round children, I want to tell you a story.
I was 9 years old and Christmas was approaching. I was visiting my grandmother and she was talking to my parents about baking Christmas cookies. She made the same three cookie recipes every year: chocolate chips, thumbprints, and Italian wedding cookies. She never varied from those three.
This particular year I was obsessed with a new recipe she had found in the newspaper. The cookies were a play on Rice Krispies Treats. They were cocoa crispy balls with peanut butter inside and they were covered in chocolate ganache. Just typing the description is leaving me in a puddle of drool.
I asked my grandmother if she would make those cookies for Christmas since they were my new favorite.
She answered me directly, by saying, “No.”
Utterly confused, I asked her, “Why?”
She explained that she and my grandfather lived on a strict budget with his pension and retirement. She only had a certain amount of money she could allot for cookies and my “special” cookies would cost too much.
My parents always struggled with money, so I immediately understood and dropped the subject. I didn’t want to make my grandmother feel sad because she couldn’t afford to make me the cookies. I put the whole thought out of my head.
Fast-forward to Christmas Eve, my grandparents arrive at our house and my grandmother hands me a Lipton Tea box. Inside the box were the cookies that I had asked her for earlier in the month. I couldn’t believe it. It was so unlike my grandmother to spend money that she didn’t have. I was so touched by her gesture and I couldn’t wait to add the cookies to the cookie table for everyone to enjoy.
At the end of the night, my family began to exchange Christmas presents. My grandparents, with their strict budget, gave their eight grandkids the same present every year. We each would receive a card with a crisp twenty-dollar bill inside.
Everyone began opening their cards and pulling out their crisp twenties. I opened my card and change started falling out with several one-dollar bills, and a hand-written note from my grandmother.
She explained that since I wanted “special” cookies outside of her budget she had to deduct the ingredient costs from my gift since that would only be fair.
Through the years I knew some kids who actually received coal for Christmas, but I’m the only one I know who ever received itemized deductions!
Thanks for teaching me the value of a dollar, Scrooge. I mean, Gram.