December is the perfect month to be a Doozer. If you remember “Fraggle Rock,” you’ll recall the Doozers. These cute little creatures went about their industrious way, oblivious to the dramas of the larger, fuzzier Fraggles. Doozers were always at work, wearing tiny hardhats, driving little end loaders, supervising endless projects. They constructed buildings and bridges out of materials which the Fraggles would, as the spirit moved them, break off and eat. Doozers loved to construct, and the things they made were candy for the Fraggles. It was a win-win, a perfect symbiosis.
My husband and I still refer to a certain kind of person as a Doozer. They are the men who are always hammering, sawing, fixing, laboring. They are the women who are endlessly weeding, painting, trimming, working. For them, the whole purpose of owning a home is not so much to put a roof over the family’s head as to give them limitless opportunities to dooze.
Living in a place with seasons that change as drastically as ours is heaven for a Doozer. Spring sends them out to the garden. Summer brings constant mowing. In autumn, Doozers ready the house and yard for the snowpocalypse. Winter means braving the blizzard with shovel, scraper, and ice chipper.
Each season brings its own set of tools, which could be one reason a person becomes a Doozer. The more you do, the more specialized tools you need, from tree saws to glazier points, post-hole diggers to pruning shears.
How do I know this? I was raised by Doozers. My father could wire a lamp and then install a new outlet in which to plug it. My mother could sew clothing for the entire family, and alter anything her friends bought at the dress shop. The best projects required the talents of both Mom and Dad, like the time they decided their patio table needed a cover. Rather than buy one, they set to work, my mother running the sewing machine as Dad fed her a long length of narrow chain to enclose in the vinyl’s hem. That way, it would never blow away.
That’s the best kind of doozing – working hard and being creative for the sake of a real need. They spoiled me rotten, leading me to believe there was a practical solution for any household emergency, from a broken vacuum cleaner to a closet needing more shelves. All it took was a little doozing.
For me, doozing is a necessary evil. I don’t work around the house for the sake of working around the house. If a room needs cleaning, I’ll clean it, but not with the zest my mother displayed doing her endless chores. Cooking, baking, sure, I can do that, but mainly so we’ll have something good to eat. As the weekend approaches, I find myself making a list of things to do, but that list often includes books to read and places to go, not simply things to fix.
For the true Doozer, holidays are paradise. There are cookies to bake and turkeys to stuff, gifts to construct, decorations to make and display. Martha Stewart, obviously, is the consummate Doozer, making everything from scratch, except her own dirt.
One year, I was sitting in the audience for my daughter’s Christmas program when I overheard a conversation. Two women were comparing notes on their holiday preparations, when one of them declared, “And of course I’ll be making my angels!” I took that to mean a special kind of cookie that she made every year. For some reason, I was horrified. “Her” angels? Oh, my. I wanted to turn around and remind her, “It’s just a holiday, lady.”
This year, we waited until two weeks before Christmas to put up our little tree and the decorations I’ve saved from my own childhood. I’m not out to impress, but to recapture a little bit of that childhood magic. Sure, I’ll bake something, and the meal we serve to our grown children on the 25th will be more elaborate than what we eat the rest of the year, unless you’re thinking about Thanksgiving, which I’d rather not.
When I was a young wife, married to my first husband and living far from home, I went a little crazy for my first Christmas. I made a fruitcake which required first candying my own fruit. I sewed holly placemats and hand-fringed napkins to match. I cooked a four-course meal for my visiting in-laws, scouring the house from top to bottom before they arrived. I hope they had a good time. I was too exhausted to remember the big day itself.
I remember fondly the Thanksgiving when my son was just two. I spent the day before baking pies, assembling stuffing, tidying up. Daniel kept busy on the kitchen floor, banging around wooden spoons and metal pots and pans. We had a blast, the two of us, not being Doozers.
This year, I’m thinking about making my mother’s famous bourbon balls. When my kids were little, I dug out the recipe, intent on making every single Christmas cookie I remembered from my childhood. But I was horrified to learn they were unbaked cookies, made from ground up vanilla wafers and pecans doused with whiskey. Easy, yes, but alcohol only bakes off if you, well, bake it. No wonder my sister and I were so mellow in December.
By now, we’re all old enough for a little bourbon. But if I get tired, you may instead find a basket of vanilla wafers and a bottle of bourbon on the table. I’ll call them Deconstructed Bourbon Balls, and they will be good. The perfect example of a non-Doozer holiday dessert.