Weekend Wanderer: How to Ruin Everything

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personal growth for all

Mother’s Day found me crying over deflated croissants and driving around with 52 Dickens’ Village houses in my car. 

Let’s start with the croissants. 

Their flagrant price all but guaranteed a delicious, flaky, French-inspired croissant. They waited for Mother’s Day brunch in my garage freezer next to the moose, deer, squirrel, and pheasant. 

I didn’t have a choice. Storing croissants with game meat is just a way of life around here. My high heels are parked next to the bow and arrow in my bedroom closet.

I can’t even talk about the situation in my home office. 

It involves a lot of bones, feathers, fishing flies, and exactly zero Brad Pitt. 

The croissants arrived with the hard work done because I don’t trust my cooking skills. If Julia Child is Superman, then I am her Bizarro. I only had to proof the croissants overnight, bake them, then serve them to my mother-in-law in what she would surely realize was her best Mother’s Day ever. 

Proofing is the process of letting the croissants rise overnight. I didn’t know it was called that. The directions explained the croissants should proof at room temperature for about nine hours. They would increase in size as they proofed, the directions said. 

Easy enough. 

Except when I stood in my kitchen at five the next morning, the croissants soft and fluffy after nine hours of proofing, I realized I had a problem. 

Brunch was still six hours away. If I baked the croissants now, they’d be cold by the time we ate. If I waited… . Would bacteria grow in their delicate layers? Would they shift from a delightful breakfast treat to a gastrointestinal nightmare? 

Googling did not provide me with a lot of answers. I decided cold croissants were better than diarrhea croissants. I baked them. 

Poorly, I mean. I baked them poorly. 

They were burnt on one side, utterly collapsed on the other. Why? What alchemy did I miss? What could I have done differently to uniformly bake those croissants into golden puffs? 

Side note: Poorly baked croissants don’t magically repair themselves when you cry and throw them on the floor. 

While I worked myself into a lather over uncooperative croissants, my husband toiled in our garage. Since my parents sold my childhood home three years ago, their collection of Dickens’ Village houses has been stored there. 

My house has very little storage. No basement. No attic. Anything that needs to be stored goes in the garage. What can I say? I fell in love with my house’s shutters and powder room. I didn’t care about the lack of storage. It’s like meeting a hot guy with no job and no car. Who cares about the practical stuff when the veneer is so pretty? 

But 20 years later, that hot guy still doesn’t have a job, and that powder room has wallpaper that just won’t come off. And your parents have downsized and still want their Dickens’ Village houses and you’re spending Mother’s Day loading porcelain houses into your car and crying over croissants. 

Shortly after they moved, my parents decided they didn’t want the Dickens houses anymore. What they did want was for me to sell them. 

Why me? Why was I assigned the purgatory of online Christmas schlock auctioning and resale? 

Probably because once, long ago and very temporarily, I did bring home a hot guy with no job and no car and now my parents are exacting their revenge. 

As it turns out, Dickens’ Village houses are about as tough to unload as our hot guy with no job. Much like that hot guy will cling to his hardworking girl, Dickens’ Village houses will squat in your garage. 

I read a book once in which the protagonist — a woman with a lousy husband — engineered an affair between him and his assistant. When the break-up came, it came from him. It was her best option for unloading him. 

I did the same for those Dickens houses. 

I found them better homes — family whose nostalgia for years of Christmases hosted by my parents in my childhood home made those Dickens houses irresistible.

I brought Mother’s Day to my mom, complete with pizza, Aperol spritzes, and a trunkload of Dickens houses for my kin to peruse. 

In reading up on proofing croissants, I came across these words of wisdom from The New York Times: “Is making croissants … an easy feat? Not in the least. But is it a fascinating and fun project? Certainly, even if you encounter some hiccups along the way.” 

The same could be said of Mother’s Day. 

And unemployed boyfriends. 

Sorry, Mom. 

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