The Sugar Cookie
Drew walked into the kitchen where Tara was in deep thought as she was making sugar cookies from the recipe her mama had left her. The cookies were delicious in themselves but what stood them apart from all the other was the decadent buttercream frosting. Her mother had chosen her over her sister Sandy to leave the guarded family recipe.
"Is everything alright", Drew asked Tara as she had that look on her face that just appeared during February when she was getting cabin fever? She told him everything was fine which he knew was a little white lie. He had been with Tara for three years now and it had been almost perfect except for the deep depression she experienced in that particular winter month.
Tara had recently lost her mother who succumbed to pancreatic cancer and he couldn't understand why hosting the cookie exchange this year was so important to her. He noticed when she volunteered at the town hall meeting that she was visually anxious. He didn't know if it was because of her and her sister's sibling rivalry or what could have warranted her to take on such a large task during the Christmas holiday.
Tara came out of her daze and asked Drew if he could pick up a couple of bottles of vanilla when he went into town. Drew told her he could but he wouldn't be able to bring them home until after seven because his schedule was full of meetings the entire day. She said it was okay and she would go herself, there was probably a few more ingredients she needed anyway.
He kissed her goodbye sweetly and then planted a tender one on her forehead secretly hoping it would melt her anxiety away. If it was possible, Tara knew he would be the one able. Drew was a wonderful man, Tara couldn't have hoped or prayed for a more caring man. When he walked into her life three years ago, there was never a doubt that he was the man she wanted to marry. Her apprehension had nothing to do with him.
Tara arrived at Hurley's grocery store and found two bottles of vanilla left on the shelf. Sandy, her sister walked in as she was leaving. She hadn't spoken to Tara since their mother died. Tara tried to talk to her and phoned her several times to no avail. Sandy was angry about Tara receiving her family's secret cookie recipe when she was the one who owned the local bakery.
Sandy couldn't understand why her sister, a local attorney, would even care about an old family recipe. She would go to Tara's during the town annual cookie exchange with a brand new recipe which she hoped would surpass her sister's.
Tara went directly home regretting that she was still unable to get Sandy to talk to her. After the cookie exchange, she would go to her house and chain herself to the door if needed to get Sandy to listen. Sandy's youngest child syndrome peaked its head out on a few occasions, thankfully they were rare. For now, Tara had tons of work to do.
The cookie exchange entailed more than exchanging cookies. The whole town came after the tree lighting ceremony at the town hall by the old gazebo. It was always a spectacular party where the mayor announced the winner of the Christmas candy cane raffle. Every year the ticket sales exceeded the previous and the half that went to city hall helped make the following year a more extravagant Christmas celebration. Tara had big shoes to follow.
Drew got home a little after seven and Tara was still in the kitchen. She had finished the sugar cookies and now had started on the chocolate and peanut butter fudge. Drew shook his head and gave her another warm hug because he knew once she put her mind to it, there was no stopping her. He was sure that Tara's hosting of the annual cookie exchange would be extraordinary. He offered her pizza that he had picked up on the way home to not interfere with her creative process.
Christmas Eve finally came without a moment too soon. Drew noticed the closer to the event the more anxious Tara had become. Next year he would sit on her and hold her arms down at the town hall meeting to keep her from volunteering again.
After the tree lighting, the guests started to arrive. Tara looked beautiful in a red and gold taffeta skirt with a red silk blouse that complimented her blond hair and blue eyes. She pulled her hair up in a chignon with blond curls flowing effortlessly framing her face. She was very attractive as was her sister Sandy who equally dressed for the occasion.
The women weren't the only beautiful attraction, she had decorated flawlessly with the holiday streaming in every room. She had trays upon trays of food. There was shrimp, finger sandwiches, cheese, decadent sweets, alcohol, and non-alcoholic punch. Tara had garnished the tables with chocolate treats and candy canes. Her preparation proved to be perfect and centered around one special guest.
Tara's mother asked her to host this occasion before she passed. She knew her daughter would continue to experience the winter anxiety unless she would face the one thing that haunted her. The passing on of the coveted family secret cookie recipe was the only idea that her mother could hope would finally put Tara's demons to rest.
At the risk of causing a rift between her two daughters, Estelle made the choice. She knew the recipe should be handed off to Sandy because of her love of baking, but Tara needed it more.
Tara had been raped when a man broke into their home when she was eighteen years old. Estelle was working the night shift and Tara was home taking care of her younger sister Sandy. She protected her and fought the man off but was left with a reminder of the violation. She gave birth to a baby girl twelve years ago who she immediately gave up for adoption. The trauma of the rape met her nightly as she closed her eyes to fall asleep. She could function normally until a severe depression overtook her on February 3 which was the child's birthday.
Estelle was aware of the adoptive parents and realized before she died that they had moved to their small town. She thought Tara's anxiety was deeper than the trauma of the rape because of the timing of her depression and asked her to host the cookie exchange where the entire town would attend.
Tara looked around and was pleased with her hard work when she felt a tug at her red and gold taffeta skirt. A young girl with blond curls and the same blue eyes told her that it was the best cookie she had ever had.
Tara, with tears in her eyes, smiled, and said thank you, thank you for everything.
Sandy walked up behind her and saw the tears and understood, She and Tara hugged as the recipe was placed into Sandy's hand.