Mom’s in the pantry, shaping dough, thick and caramel-brown, into doll figures. They’re like gingerbread men but fancier, because they’re girls. All the shapes are round and smooth, sturdy. Two cookie sheets, side by side, are atop the washing machine and dryer. Mom works, making the pans teeter metallic, loud. I ask why she’s here, not in the kitchen. She needs more space; the countertop is too shallow. This reminds her of my great grandma, and how she’d prepare Matterhorns on the washer and dryer. I remember too, and ask if she’ll make frosting like Great Grandma used to make. That was yummy. No, she’s going to paint faces on these, and clothes, too. No frosting. Paint.

She rolls up a ball of dough and stuffs it into a garlic press. The dough comes out looking like dollhouse pasta. Carefully, she cuts it into swaths of hair for the dolls, thick ponytails and wavy bangs. Mom smells like salt, dough, sunshine, and Oil of Olay.

Can I snack on some cookie dough, and I’m desperate but she says no, the dough would make me sick. It’s one of those. Grandma explained about dough with eggs in it. Okay, I’ll wait until after they’re done, but Mom says no, these cookies aren’t for eating. They’re for decorating the Christmas tree. Seems like a terrible waste. 

She needs toothpicks for shaping the mouth, and heads to the kitchen: don’t eat the dough. Okay, but I take a tiny bit, just a smidgeon. 

Nearly vomit. I spit the wad, smaller than a pea, into my hand. I wipe my eyes dry, rub my sleeve across my nose, and Mom comes back. Did you try some? No. Good, because I don’t know what it might do to you. (I know.)