Once upon a time, I fell into the habit of giving people at work a small token of my appreciation during the Christmas holidays. Depending on the school, it was the custodian, or secretary, or colleague, or committee members who assisted me in shoveling paperwork, or an administrator, or counselor, or my kids' teachers. Unfortunately, my generosity knew no bounds. I created a monster. A polite, well-behaved monster, to be sure. But a monster with a voracious appetite.
The problem with giving folks my world-famous Chex Mix is that they assume it is a gift that keeps on giving. I only weaned my boys' kindergarten teacher off of it two years ago when The Pony entered sixth grade. Thank goodness, for the most part, The Pony followed in Genius's teacher footsteps. I actually blame Genius, not the teachers. He decreed that all of his teachers would get Chex Mix every year. Because it wouldn't be fair to leave them out, just because he had moved on from their classes. He's quite generous with my time, effort, and money like that.
Then there is the issue of my building assignment. For seven years, I was a traveler. I worked a half-day in one building, and a half-day in another. So I had two principals, and two secretaries, and two counselors, and four custodians, and so on. They still expect me to share the wealth. And I most certainly can't leave out the superintendent, and his two secretaries.
A couple of years ago, my bestie brought back her container the next day. "Do you give refills?" I had some left over, so I humored her request. Now I am on the hook for multiple Chexes for her. Oh, how my appreciation list has grown. I now have to fill 25 plastic Walmart containers with Chex Mix. I need some elves.
Yesterday and today, I made two batches. It will take four to fill the bare minimum of containers. Because Hick and the boys will want some, and I'll have to whip some up for the extended family. Chex Mix is a harsh taskmistress. It's not like I can open a bag of store-bought mix and pawn if off as my own. That would be like an Iron Chef plating a Little Debbie oatmeal pie as a dessert. Without a fancy swirl of sauce.
Cruel Madame Chex Mix requires as much supervision as a newborn. A newborn that needs to be removed from the oven every fifteen minutes, stirred, rotated, returned to said oven, and repeated over the course of a two-hour session. I'm surprised I do not develop carpal tunnel syndrome every December. My right forearm would put Popeye's to shame. My right hand is frozen into the shape of a C-clamp. At least I have had the good sense to buy a second non-stick 9 x 13 pan, rather than using my Pyrex.
I have a special recipe, handed down from my mother, that she has labeled as "Scrambles". I think she probably copied it off the Chex box back in the 1950s. I saw one on the box this morning, and it was a blasphemous bastardization of the one true Chex Mix. Today's recipe called for oyster crackers! Who puts oyster crackers in Chex Mix? And while I'm picking that bone of contention out of my side, let me voice my disappointment in my mother for adding Bugles to her current recipe. That is just wrong.
Here's a picture of my Chex Mix, circa 2005. The real deal. It's perched on the very heavy cutting block that my husband dragged home from work after a remodel, with a lovely roll of paper towels in the background. I don't know why I felt it necessary to include the paper towels, unless I wanted to prove that I'm clean. I got hired for that very reason one time. Because I looked clean. But that's a story for another time. This one batch of Chex Mix. I can get ten small containers out of a batch. I used to give more, but the creation of this other-worldly treat is quite taxing. And my bestie gets three of the larger containers, which is equivalent to about seven regular ones. It takes fifteen minutes to properly layer the ingredients and get them ready for baking. So we're looking at almost nine hours of oven-tending.
My generosity has spiraled out of control.