Reddit is full of culinary gems, but also interesting (read: entertaining) ones as well. Those of you who are well acquainted with the internet already know about the subreddit r/AITA, which stands for “Am I The Asshole,” but if you don’t, it’s a subreddit where people basically ask if they’re being an asshole for having acted a certain way in a given scenario. In the case of this recent post, the subject matter is about Christmas cookies, which has the internet up in a tiff.
In this thread, the poster explains that for the holidays, their mother asks the women in the family to send in what they call “a dessert sample,” so she can curate what’s on the menu for dessert. In this year’s case, it’s Christmas cookies. The poster’s wife had participated previously and had been rejected from the family menu multiple times, and this year, she worked extremely hard on a cookie recipe, only to have it rejected again.
The post reads:
I came home from work and found my wife upset. I asked what’s wrong and she told me that my mother rejected the sample she sent and decided to exclude her baking from the food list/menu for christmas this year. I didn’t know what to say but she then told me she was backing out of the invitation to attend christmas with my family.
Afterwards, they had a blowout argument over it. And now the poster’s wife wants to completely back out of attending Christmas, and when their sister-in-law caught wind of it, she too wanted to back out of coming this year. Yikes.
Reactions from commenters were strong. One said:
Holidays meals are about sharing and togetherness. Not channeling your inner jailhouse Martha Stewart/prison warden over making the “perfect spread”! Your house is not a restaurant. Food doesn’t have to be perfect or follow a theme; frankly, it doesn’t even have to be good but its production should include everyone who wants to participate— not the “chosen” few.
And I agree with this person wholeheartedly. I come from a family that celebrates most holidays potluck-style (this year I’m bringing mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving). When it comes down to it, everyone eats everyone else’s food happily, and nobody actually gives a shit about whether or not it’s picture perfect. Food TV is partially to blame for making everything look so perfect, all the time, when really food is often 40 shades of brown, and sometimes not-so-pretty.
At-home dishes do not need to look like restaurant-quality food. The one thing a lot of home cooks really need to understand about restaurant food is that so many of the beautiful dishes you’re eating have been made by a whole army of people, not just one person. When you have a crew working on one plate, of course it’s bound to look prettier than a casserole dish full of beige stuffing. And that’s part of what you’re paying for. A home cook should just aim for delicious food, that’s all.
I’m usually somewhat of a Grinch, but I really do love just having the family and loved ones all gathered at a table together. The holidays are no doubt a stressful time, but being able to stop and enjoy a meal shouldn’t cause friction. (Though admittedly, prepping and hosting isn’t for everyone, since it’s a lot of work.) Frankly, if your Christmas meal looked and felt like a Hallmark movie dinner, I think I’d be creeped out and ask to leave.
In the case of this Reddit thread, it’s clear this issue isn’t entirely about the cookies. In this case, it’s about control: The mother wants to take all of it to shape a home celebration into a picturesque restaurant one. There’s a reason why restaurant cooks are some of the most stressed out people on the face of this planet, why invite that kind of tension into your home?
Do it like my family does. Let everyone work on one dish that they love (or are assigned), and just tidy up, decorate, set the scene up how you like it. Everyone can bring a nice dish, you don’t look like a dick for wanting to flex on everyone, and don’t let the fucking cookies ruin everyone’s holiday.