Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Monday, December 20, 2021


When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come starts spreading its merry magic around, anything can happen. One year, the spirit of Snap, Crackle, and Pop possessed me, and with a joyful heart I set about making Rice Krispie treats.

I might not bake like Betty Crocker, but I mix like a lidless blender.  Ingredients disappeared into the bowl like bathtub toys down the drain.  Seeing what I was up to, my husband volunteered to do a store run to buy emergency rations of vanilla extract.  I’m not normally a baker, but when the situation calls for it I can preheat like Paula Deen.  It was Christmas, and if the kids wanted Rice Krispie treats to take to school, why I was going to snap and crackle if it killed me.

I was elbow-deep in white fluff and crunchy bits when the phone rang. This was prehistoric times, before the days when a cell phone would make it easy to check a shiny screen for pertinent information.

I looked at the phone on the shelf.

I looked at the mass of seasonal sweetness glistening in the mixing bowl.

Ring Ring

Surely it was a late night salesman calling with an offer on reindeer rides or antler cleaners.

Ring Ring

Or it could be. . .

Ring Ring


I lunged for the phone.

Across the dog napping by my chair.  Across the table.  Across the mixing bowl full of sticky, marshmallow goodness.

Which immediately grabbed my sweater like a Hoover on a hairball.

I squealed and grabbed at the sticky mass stuck to my sweater. My hands stuck tight.

The phone rang forlornly. Would Santa wait?  I couldn’t take that chance.

I wedged a rubber spatula somewhere very inconvenient for a spatula to go and tried to pry myself loose from the goo.  No luck.  Finally, through the use of my gourmet kitchen superpowers, I pulled a hand free and grabbed the phone.  Crispy Christmas spirit clung to my clothes like a solidified lava flow.

 “Hello, Santa?!” 

Dial tone.

I sat back to ponder the situation, one hand stuck to my shirt in a modified Pledge of Allegiance salute, the other hand held fast to the telephone, wondering if there was a known antidote for marshmallow crème super glue.

About that time the man who promised to love, cherish, and pick up milk on the way home from work came in the back door.  “Why didn’t you answer the phone?  I wanted to ask you about the ingredients for the . . .” 

I looked up at him, festive clumps of cereal globs hanging from my sweater like Christmas tree ornaments and marshmallow crème tipping my eyelashes like disco balls. The black Labrador dozing at my feet dreaming of sugarplums looked like a Candyland Appaloosa.

That night I discovered the true meaning of Christmas. Sure, now I know that the combination of crispy rice cereal and marshmallow crème must have some sort of unstable effect on the individual ingredients, some sort of recipe for disaster than an entry-level biology student has memorized. Or maybe, as my kids suggest, the unstable effect dealt mainly with the cook. 

I’m not sure where I went wrong, but the next day my family strung electrified razor wire around the kitchen door.  Now I have to sign a consent form to check out a spatula and I only have access to marshmallow creme when accompanied by a guardian under the age of 12. 

But I learned a good lesson the hard way. When the chips are down and your snap and crackle have lost their pop, a man who will chisel petrified puffed rice off of your Partridge in a Pear tree sweater is worth more than a herd of flying reindeer. He headed right back to the store for a sleigh-load of store bought Rice Krispie treats.

And these days?  I eat oatmeal.

No comments: