Why I’m Thankful for an Unfinished Yule Log

Dec 15, 2016 by

Yesterday afternoon, my niece Haley and I baked our traditional Yule Log for French class. Her mom works in an afterschool program until 6:00 and is not a baker. I work at home and am a baker. As I’ve mentioned in past post, I am “the aunt who makes things”—room sprays, scarves, ornaments, memory wire bracelets, Mexican soup… and Yule Logs.

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It wouldn’t be Christmas around here without a frantic call from Sherry asking if I have time to make a cake with Haley, followed by a gloriously messy baking frenzy. I don’t even mind using a boxed cake mix for the occasion, or canned frosting. It takes a lot for me to opt for boxed and canned!

1482933_10202681785636122_2049303913_nThis is a picture of our Yule Log from 2013. Yesterday was Yule Log baking day, but unfortunately I had to send Haley home with her cake to decorate with her mom after work so Mom and Dad and I could hurry off to Nate’s winter concert. It had been one of those crazy days that probably should not have included a major baking project, but I was determined to work it in! When Haley said she could do it herself at home I just couldn’t let her. Yule Logs involve some tricky steps, like rolling the warm cake with a dish towel to cool in a giant HoHo shape, and unrolling it gently to frost the inside before rolling it back up. More importantly, Yule Logs are our thing! I’d been looking forward to it even though I knew we’d have to do it quickly. I love baking with Haley! She’s my only niece, and one of the few family members who enjoys playing with flour and sugar as much as I do. We were making the Yule Log, even if we could only do part of it.

We frosted the inside and rolled it back up just in time to drop Nate off at the school to warm up, take Haley home, and head back to Cal High for the concert. When I watched Haley jump out of the van with her rolled-up log I regretted that we didn’t have time to finish it together. We always had so much fun decorating it with red and green M&M “holly berries” (one red surrounded by three green for each holly berry). Oh well. Hopefully she and her mom would have a good time with it.

We hurried back to the school and found our seats. The Jazz Band and Jazz Ensemble sounded amazing! Haley’s brother Dylan had come to the concert with us, so when we took him home I got to see something equally as amazing—Haley’s completed Yule Log. I wish I’d taken a picture! After covering it with chocolate frosting, she’d dragged a fork across the top to create a bark look, just like I’d taught her, sprinkled coconut and powdered sugar on top to look like snow, and made two sprigs of M&M holly. It was gorgeous! Her mom was hoping for more bling, but Haley wanted to keep it simple and let it look like a log. Two candy canes beside the log were all the bling Mom was going to get.

Today, as I looked for a picture of one of our past Yule Logs and remembered Haley’s first attempt at decorating one herself, I was actually thankful that things turned out as they did. We got our aunt/niece baking tradition, and she got a chance to be creative on her own—to practice what she’d been perfectly capable of for a while.

I pray that long offer she stops taking French class, Haley will still bake occasion Yule Logs, for fun instead of for extra credit, and have fond memories of our gloriously messing, sometimes “It’s due tomorrow”-frantic, baking days together.

Baking Yule Logs with Haley is one of the many reasons why I thank God for moving us back to the Bay Area. I missed a lot of Nate’s cousins’ growing-up years while in Reno, and now I get to catch up. I get to bond with my sweet, one-and-only niece over school projects that involve food. So far we’ve made a simple cheese, mustard, Russian tea cakes, Charlotte Russe, and many Yule Logs. Every one has been special, but last night’s was special in a different way, because I got to see what she can do on her own. How fun is that!

I love you, Haley! I can’t wait to see what we get to bake up next!

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What are some of your Christmas traditions that involve time with special people? What is it about this tradition that stirs gratitude?

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