Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hate Cookies

Is there anything better than the warm gooeyness of a freshly homemade, chocolate chip cookie? Perhaps only the sticky rapture of chocolate chip cookie dough...

“But JSP,” I hear in my head, “the empty calories!?” All that butter and sugar?!? Not to mention how hot an oven can make your apartment!?!”

“Completely worth it!” I interject. You see, the true art of chocolate chip cookies lies far beyond the actual dessert. It requires the very eye of faith to recognize how these yummy morsels of chocolaty goodness are actually representations of life’s greatest joys.

For example, “The Joy of Creation.” Think about it. Eggs, flour, vanilla extract… All are individual, ordinary ingredients until you, the creator, the ‘confectionery god’ if you will, organizes them into something that, before your efforts, did not exist.

Chocolate chip cookies also symbolize “The Joy of Caring.” After all, it is virtually impossible to bake the perfect cookie without feeling a little warm and gooey yourself. Making detailed measurements, gently placing the dough onto a baking sheet, and then delicately taking it out of the oven exposes the runny yolks of even the hardest eggs.

Finally, but certainly not final, a chocolate chip cookie represents “The Joy of Cravings.” Because, hey, sometimes you just need a cookie.

Still, the greatest life lesson I learned from this baked good wasn’t found in any of these joyful metaphors.

I’m not sure how old I was. I do remember I was in high school. It was on a Sunday after family dinner, and I was sitting at the kitchen table with my siblings talking, or more accurately ranting, about some of the individuals in our community that we found...well…difficult.

As it goes with these sorts of conversations, none of us was benefiting from it. Recognizing this, my wise mother brought the conversation to a halt with a challenge.

She told us that each of us needed to pick one person around town that we couldn’t stand, and then we’d take them cookies. A few minutes after we stopped laughing, we realized she was being serious.

We then proceeded to go around the kitchen table and each choose our respective recipient. One lady was picked thanks to her caddy remark about my little sister’s alleged fashion irreverence. Another family member picked a fellow who was never as funny as he thought he was. Even Mom picked someone who, she admitted, “got on her nerves.”

When it came time for me to pick, I humbly asked, “Do I have to pick just one?” (It must have been a particularly frustrating weekend.) My mom obliged, and allowed me to pick two.

As soon as the chocolate chip cookies were made, they were plated with plastic wrap, and we loaded them along with our repentant bodies into the family SUV.

Each house visit brought a collected “ooooooo” from the rest of the vehicle in recognition of both the destination and its corresponding family member. Whoever had picked that household was handed a plate of cookies, which they took to the front door and presented to their “Frienemy” along with a smile comprised of as many ingredients as the cookies themselves.

“Hate Cookies,” as I named the whole experience, inspired a lot of different emotions in me. There was, first and foremost, a sense of humor about the whole concept. Beneath that irony, though, was remorse in recognizing the initial time I had wasted by talking poorly of someone else. But Hate Cookies also brought out an emotion I didn’t anticipate: Love.

In fact, I now remember Hate Cookies fondly, warmly even. They weren’t a condescending joke or a guilty confession. For me, the miracle of Hate Cookies was that when we made the cookies, we built a bridge. It was a bridge between those people we picked and us. And from then on, that bridge was good for crossing to and from either party. It was the joy of creation, but on a far more soul enlarging scale. I had a connection to these people, and it was now a positive one.

That being said, to any of those reading this who might be suspiciously second-guessing ever receiving cookies from a Parsons family member, be not afraid. Hate Cookies were a one-time thing, and their recipients should feel only gratitude. I know I do! And besides, I’m 99.9% sure they’d never read my blog…

Happy Holidays Everyone! Build a bridge. And have a cookie on me-


  1. I did this with someone in my ward, wrote him a note about what a wonderful job he was doing as EQP and though I thoroughly despised this guy, anonymously left cookies on his doorstep. The next week in Testimony meeting he very emotionally thanked whoever had done it and talked about how much he'd been doubting himself on his calling etc and how that had given him a push to keep going. I was completely shocked that this had meant so much to him, and was deeply touched. But it meant a lot to me, and my heart was very much softened towards him that now we have a very pleasant mutual friendship. Now if I'm having problems with someone, I'll anonymously give them cookies on their porch. It's my own therapy. Sorry for the long novel comment. I just agree.

  2. Feeling oddly glad that I never received a plate of cookies from you in hs. :) Funny memory. You have a cool mom.