The Botched Christmas Batch

Mom loved to bake and would share her baked goods with family, friends and shut-ins. Her sweet rolls were well-known, but at Christmas, she mixed up a rich dough of dates, nuts, and raisins. When baked in a greased floured can, this dark brown bread could be sliced into a wheel that tasted so good.

My job was to take the date bread to the names on Mom’s list. My last drop off was to the three story brick home where the nuns lived. The Sisters taught at Sacred Heart School, which was my school. Once I left there, my bread route was done.

Back home, when I walked in the door, Mom was on the phone.

“Oh my! Okay. Bye.” I heard her say. 

“Oh no!”  She hung up the phone and sank down onto the straight-back chair.

“That was your Uncle George. He wants to know who’ll pay his dental bill,” she said. “This is so bad! I just found out there are pits in my date bread.”

Oh no was right. All I could think of was that I had just given the nuns bread with pits in it. Sister Amelia was in charge of my fourth-grade class, and she was strict. How would I ever be able to face her?

With no time to bake a fresh batch of date bread, Mom came up with a plan. She called our friends and family to tell them about her slip-up and to warn them about the pits in the bread. Then she dialed the nuns’ phone. My face felt hot as I heard her words from the next room.

“Hello, Sister,” Mom said. “I just want you to know that we are giving a prize to the nun who finds the most date pits.” After a pause, Mom added, “That’s right. I’ve got a lace hankie for the sister who gets more than ten pits from her piece of date bread.” Then after another pause, I heard Mom say, “Same to you. Thank you, Sister,” as she hung up.

The botched batch of date bread turned into more than a gaffe. Yet, Mom not only owned her slip-up, but she worked to make it right. At least no one chipped a tooth. Sister Mary Eve found eleven date pits, so she won the hankie. 

As for me, I learned that it’s not about the sweets we get or give. It’s about how we deal with the pits.

-Deb Johnston, previously published in Short & Sweet Humil8ting

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I am a former educator, writing in central Wisconsin. When not writing or encouraging students to write, I enjoy lighthouses on the Great Lakes, family campouts, and walking our dog. I am a member of SCBWI. I have a masters degree in education and have been published in The Mailbox MagazineThe Education Center®, The Mailbox®,The Idea Magazine for Teachers®.

7 thoughts on “The Botched Christmas Batch

  1. Deb, this is just lovely!  Your mom must have had quite a sense of humor to come up with the prize for the most pits!  And what a way to save you from the wrath of your nun/teacher! The photo that goes with the story, with the sweet bread on the heirloom platter and the lace behind it the perfect accompaniment!

    Thanks for sharing a sweet Christmas memory. Do you make your mom’s date nut bread? Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!



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