My first foray into the professional Christmas cookie leagues began when I was hired to work at Williams-Sonoma. I had restaurant experience which plummeted me to the front of the demonstration line. Whenever a new product or technique was center stage, I had the misfortune of being selected to "demo" the product. Unpacking cases of holiday cookie decorating kits, I was knee-deep in sugars, icings and sprinkles boasting the titles, "Christmas Red" and "Evergreen Green." To say this was baptism by fire, sums it up rather accurately. There I stood at the demo counter, brandishing my piping bags. Digging deep into my Ithaca College acting skills, I promised the decorating novices that they, too, could boast their own cookie glitterati that very holiday season. I piped red bow ties on terrified gingerbread boys. I sprinkled crystal sanding sugars with great abandon, temporarily blinding a young woman leaning in a little too closely. My regulation green Williams-Sonoma employee apron was a Jackson Pollack canvas of royal icings. I sent my audience on their way clutching their decorating kits with as much fervor as mother's had clutched TickleMeElmos a few years prior. My manager deemed this a very successful afternoon. I clocked out and ran for my life.
With every series of culinary jobs that followed, Christmas holidays found me armed with piping bags and literally hundreds of naked cookies waiting to be costumed. I was decorating angels on the wing flying perilously close to red-nosed reindeer. Gingerbread families and the houses in which they lived fell victim to mistrals of confectioners sugar. I now understood why Santa and Mrs. Claus had a penchant for eggnog.