Maybe I was born an overachiever, but I’ve only known striving for first place. I’ve never been content with “good enough.” I’m always working for the best — and then some.
This attitude works well for school and a lot of other things. The problem is, it’s not always easy to turn it off, or to know when it applies. As a result, I’ve spent way too much time on things that crumble and don’t last. Like Christmas cookies.
But this year I’m a little more comfortable with the M word. Mediocrity. I can’t say it without cringing just a bit, wanting to distance myself from the very idea. Nevertheless, this Christmas I decorated cookies that were good enough, a phrase I had never been able to accept.
Since I’ve been working on prioritizing my time, I didn’t want to spend too much time decorating cookies. I pictured the cookies being bitten and chewed up, disappearing down the hatch. Yes, cookies are minimally important in the scheme of things. (I actually have to say this to myself in so many words).
I started squeezing out squiggly lines of white icing without prior deliberation. Would I fill in the windows, outline the stars, or make a pattern of dots? I had no plan, no idea where the “design” was going until the icing hit the cookie. A giant leap of faith on my part, but I was determined not to devote too much time to this project.
The icing didn’t squeeze out as smoothly as I liked. It blobbed a little here and there. The colored sugar didn’t stick the way I had expected. But I just kept going, making it up as I went along.
When my heart caught in my throat, I whispered, it’s not a Rembrandt, for goodness sake. Get over it. This revelation helped me stay on track.
What should I do with the round, crinkle-edged cutouts? Snowflakes, I decided, even as the icing flowed out like a long ribbon. “How do you make a snowflake design?” I asked myself out loud, as I continued to squeeze the icing. Out came angles and splotches that I hoped would resemble a snowflake. I restrained myself from starting over when my lines were off center. I ignored the lines threatening to run together.
Pete, who was working on the computer nearby, heard me and googled “snowflake cookie designs.” But I was too busy squeezing out my makeshift snowflakes to do more than glance up. I had already finished five, and this was going to be good enough.
I surprised myself and decorated all these cookies in the space of a short evening. It’s amazing how fast less than perfect can be. In the end, it really was good enough.