Carol Ann had a dilemma; she just received news that would change her life. Sharing the information with her family could have a couple of possible outcomes. How would she ever be able to tell them? It would be nice if she could tell everyone before Christmas, mostly if the result was a good one. Of course, if it went the other way, it would ruin Christmas. She wondered how to get everyone together to see how they treat each other under normal circumstances.
Her mother used to do cookie exchanges every year. Carol Ann stopped the tradition three years earlier when her mother passed away. Maybe she could start that tradition again. Yes, that was a good idea. She began with a list of everyone to invite, cousins, aunts, sister Nina, and Jamie Riley. After spending half of the morning on the phone, she had a lot of "yes" and a few "I will have to see." The most important people were attending Nina and Jamie Riley.
Carol Ann started to plan out her cookies. Looking through her mother's recipe box, she decided on three cookies. Her cousins and the rest of the family would be happy to see that she had the recipe for her mother's butterscotch surprise cookies. Her mother would laugh, 'The surprise is there is no butterscotch.' She could see her mother laughing. She thought about how excited her mother was to share a new recipe with her friends at one exchange. It was on one of the cooking shows. It was a big production and now the butterscotch surprise cookie. They all tasted it, and someone said. 'The surprise is there is no butterscotch.' After three years, the memories of her mother were still bittersweet. Not a day went by she didn't miss her terribly. Tears would often sneak up on her out of nowhere. Today was one instance; remembering the cookies.
Carol Ann and Nina would watch their mother make cookies. They even got to help from time to time with decorating. She remembered a batch of sugar cookies when they were children. They were so excited they got to decorate them all by themselves. They were the ugliest cookies she had ever seen. They had a wonderful time decorating them with their mother.
After wiping tears, she continues to look through the recipes. Chocolate chip, sugar cookies, coconut macaroons, candied cherry nut, snickerdoodles, molasses cookies were only a few of her recipes. She decided that she would make the sugar cookies with royal icing for all of her guests. For the exchange, she would make the molasses cookies, candied cherry nut, and of course, the butterscotch surprise.
Her mind wandered from the cookies to her big surprise. How would the family react? She hoped everyone would be happy with the news. If her mother were still alive, this would be harder to embrace. Carol Ann decided she couldn't worry about how her mother would feel betrayed. Today was a new day, and the future was what they made of it.
Shaking off any thoughts of Jamie and everyone else, Carol Ann got busy making ingredient lists for the grocery store. She would have to buy a lot of flour if she was going to make twenty dozen cookies. There was also an ornament exchange she planned. The only requirement was that it be a dated ornament.
After getting dressed, she went to her favorite local gift shop. Tina always stocked a large variety of lovely and unique items. Carol Ann could not believe her good fortune when she found an ornament with a cookie sheet and mixing bowl. It was perfect for the cookie exchange. Her excitement was real; she couldn't wait to make the secret known to all of those at the party. They had no idea she hid such news. She thanked Tina for always having just the right thing in her shop. Then she went to the store for her cookie ingredients.
The next day she spent cleaning her house and decorating for the party. She had three days before everyone would be at her home. Carol Ann was looking forward to it. She invited her sister Nina over to tell her the news. It took some time, but Carol Ann finally explained to Nina and asked her to embrace her family. Nina left her, explaining she had a lot to think about before the party. Carol Ann hoped she didn't upset her, but she had to know the truth.
The day before the party, aka baking day, Carol Ann worked hard the whole day on making her cookies. Each one needed decorated perfectly. She stood looking at her clean kitchen, with all the racks of cookies. Smiling, she started to put them in containers. The party was going to be great.
Carol Ann was busy sitting out empty cookie trays in anticipation of her guest's arrival. As they each arrived, they placed all the cookies out onto the trays. They all mingled and talked, sang Christmas songs, and of course, eating cookies. They numbered the wrapped ornaments and drew numbers to see who got each ornament. Carol Ann got a beautiful blown glass with soft green and red stripes. Carol's Aunt Betty ended up with the ornament Carol Ann purchased.
As the party went on, Carol Ann approached Jamie, "Hello, are you having a good time?"
"Yes, this is fun; thanks for inviting me."
"Could you hang around until after everyone is gone? Nina and I want to talk to you." She looked concerned.
"It is nothing to looked so concerned about; it is just something private."
"Ok, I will stay."
"Thank you. We will talk later. I need to get back to my other guests."
Another hour passed before everyone left except for Nina and Jamie. They sat down at the kitchen table with some coffee and, of course, a few cookies. Carol Ann began, "I took a DNA test it said I had a fifty percent sibling. I asked for information; they sent me your name and address."
Jamie looked shocked, "You think…I am your half-sister?"
"We do and would like to know what you know about your father?" Nina smiled, "I didn't mean to make it sound like we were grilling you. We would like to know if you are family."
"I would like to know too. My mom says that my dad was killed in the war in the middle east. Another time she told me that she was good friends with your dad. He was there to help her when she lost my dad because they were best friends."
Carol Ann took a sip of coffee and looked like she was thinking about what Jamie had said, "Well, they could have had an affair? Maybe it started innocent, he was a friend to her, and one thing led to another."
Jamie stood, "I think I need to get some answers from my mom. Since your father, maybe my father is gone. I will be in touch." She grabbed her stuff and practically ran out the door.
Nina and Carol Ann got things in order from the party. They couldn't believe their dad had an affair. They wondered if their mother knew about Jamie's mom. There would probably be questions they would never have the answers to, but hopefully, Jamie could get a few of them.
Later that night, Jamie called Carol Ann. "Hello."
"Hey Carol Ann, my mom finally admitted to the affair with your dad. He is my dad too."
There was silence for a few moments. "Wow, we grew up together and had no idea. That is so strange."
"I was jealous of you both; you had a great dad, and mine was dead. However, your dad brought me a beautiful necklace for my high school graduation. I thought it was nice, but now I know he knew and wanted me to have something that was from him."
Carol Ann smiled, "I am happy you have some good memories. I would like for us to get to know each other better. Nina will want that too."
"What is the surprise in your butterscotch surprise cookies, because I couldn't taste any butterscotch?"
Laughing, Carol Ann said, "That is the surprise. You are expecting butterscotch, and there is none." She explained what happened to her mother the first time she made them, ever since the butterscotch was missing on purpose.
"Well, I guess that is two surprises I got today."
"I am sorry to spring it on you, but I needed to know."
Jamie laughed, "It is ok; I am glad to know I have sisters and look forward to getting to know you better. Good night."
Carol Ann started making calls to her aunts and cousins, asking what they thought of her friend Jamie. Then she explained that she was her sister. Some seemed surprised, others already knew about the affair, so they were not shocked. Carol Ann finished with her phone calls; everyone seemed happy to have a new family member. They all asked Carol Ann to invite her to the large family dinner on Christmas Eve.