14 Dec 2021  C. chou  6 mins read.

Ding! The sound of the doorbell startled her. After briefly fumbling over the rolling pin, she glanced back at the clock. Goodness! She hadn’t realized the time. It was already half an hour past six, the time that the gathering was supposed to occur. With all the time that she spent preparing food, she hadn’t even dressed up yet. Ding! It rang again. Putting down the rolling pin, she scurried over toward the front entrance, nearly slipping from the lack of traction her slippers offered her.

Pulling the door open, she was greeted by her brother and his family. Smiling sheepishly at them, she brushed aside a strand of her unstyled hair, unintentionally leaving traces of flour behind in the form of white highlights marking her otherwise brown hair. Stepping aside, and letting them in, it occurred to her that she had forgotten to set the timer on the oven to keep track of the food that was already baking. Seeing the food that her brother brought to the potluck, she led them to the dining room, though normally parties like these were carried out in the combined space of her living room and kitchen.

Ding! Another person arrived. She rushed to the door. Behind it, she found her sister and her family, and her parents. It’s been a while since everyone last saw each other. She was glad to see everyone looked well. Leading them all to the dining room, she quickly excused herself.

Running to the kitchen, she decided that there wouldn’t be enough time to make what she had originally intended. The clock showed six and three quarters. She had less than fifteen minutes. She had to get everything done ready dinner, or she wouldn’t be contributing to the party today. The original recipe for the treat that she intentionally planned was something that their grandmother used to make, something she was sure that everyone would enjoy. But given the time… Moving the dough aside, she grabbed the bowl with the batter that was originally going to be used for the outer layer.

With the time constraints, regular cookies will have to do. She went into the pantry hoping to find some raisons. Ding! The doorbell rang again. Immediately putting down the bag of M&Ms that she found, she hurried to the door. Her grandmother was here. Opening the door, she smiled to see that the old lady was still doing well. She was already in her mid-80s, yet still as physically healthy as someone in their late-50s.

“Grandma!” She shouted, giving the old lady a hug.

“How’s my little granddaughter?” Her grandmother asked, as she pulled the lady into her home.

“Good,” She answered, smiling. “I’m glad to see that you are also well.” A burning smell came out of the kitchen. The casserole! In her efforts to finish making the treat, she had totally forgot that she had been baking the thing. “One moment!” She told her grandmother, before dashing to the kitchen.

Turning on the oven light, she cringed at the obviously singed outer rim. Pulling on a pair of oven mitts, she opened the oven. Her eyes watered. The burning smell was so strong. Resisting the urge to cover her nose, she took the thing out with both hands and set it on the stove. She sighed. Now she really had too little things prepared for today’s potluck.

“Do you need any help?” Her grandmother asked behind her, as she scrambled into her pantry, searching for another box of noodles.

“No, grandma,” She answered, slightly embarrassed that thought that her grandmother must’ve seen the state of the kitchen. “You should go sit and talk with everyone. They all miss you.”

“My…” Her grandmother said, ignoring her. “Are you trying to make melonpan?”

“Yes,” She answered turning around, “But I probably won’t be able to get that done before dinner time, so I was thinking of just scooping the batter and making cookies instead.”

“There’s no problem.” Her grandmother answered. “You already rose the dough, so if you work on it now, we can have them ready by dessert time.”

“Really?” She asked. “But wouldn’t cookies be faster?”

“Faster, yes.” Her grandmother answered. “But you wouldn’t have made cookies if you had enough time, would you?”

“No…” She started.

“Well that’s it then.” Her grandmother said, ripping off a piece of dough, and rolling it into a ball, before she could protest.

Within the next ten minutes, they had the melonpan made, with the exception of a second round of rising and the actual baking.

“And we have enough left over batter to make cookies,” her grandmother pointed out, as she put the trays of melonpan aside. Taking the ice-cream scoop that was left on the counter, her grandmother quickly covered her last baking tray with scoops in less than a minute’s time, and put them into the oven. “Come, dear, we should go eat dinner.”

“But I haven’t made anything that isn’t a dessert.” She argued. “The casserole isn’t quite edible anymore.”

“The center is fine.” Her grandmother answered, as she leaned down to take a look. “Besides, you really think that we won’t have enough food to go around, with your grandmother here?”

Her grandmother was known for bringing more than necessary to potluck parties, usually nothing short of a dozen dishes. She smiled, not sure what else to say.

“That’s my girl.” Her grandmother said, mussing her hair. “Let’s go.”

Together they joined everyone else in the dining room. What had almost been a disaster, turned out to be one of the best family gatherings she had. The entire family ended up pitching in, decorating the cookies with anything she had in her home. Ice cream, yogurt, and frosting were the popular toppings among the children. Ice cream covered in sprinkles taking the top pick.

She laughed, as she sat with her grandmother, watching them fight over the ice cream to cover their seconds. With her grandmother’s help, they didn’t just have melonpan but also cookies. A soft dusting of rainbows scattered down from the cross she had hanging on the chandelier, decorating the table and food with colors. Laughter filled the room, reminding her of the days when she and her siblings first celebrated the holidays with their grandmother’s melonpan. It looked like cookies were here to stay, for the Christmas gatherings to come.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.

The family is coming over for a holiday gathering. You decide to make one of your grandmother’s traditional treats. You decide what the treat is. Set the scene, write a story based on it. Something goes awry!

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: