Holiday traditions can be incredibly relaxing and fun.
But they can also become competitive and emotionally loaded.
It all depends on whose involved and what relationship dynamics are on the line.
Something as seemingly innocent as cookies can turn into a full-blown fight if all the parties involved don't feel heard or understood.
AITA: For 'upstaging' my wife in our Christmas cookie baking tradition?
My (25m) wife (23f) and I have had a tradition every Christmas where we would bake Christmas cookies and frost them with our friends. We'd then give the cookies out to friends and family and helpers.
Every year, my wife would take on the bulk of the baking duties, insisting that only she knew how to bake them 'right' and only letting whoever is helping frost them.
She always insisted on doing all the baking because frosting is the fun part and the only thing people want to do. Usually, this frosting and baking marathon would last until the wee hours of the morning, and start around noon.
Well, this year, for reasons that aren't relevant to this post today, she would not be available on the day we normally do all of this. She was sad that we wouldn't be able to do our cookie tradition. I said that I was more than capable of baking the cookies.
She seemed to think I was joking and that I could basically never do it myself. Well, I said I'd try, and she wished me a sarcastic good luck. Well, in the run-up to the days of baking and frosting, I start running drills to optimize production.
(Enter testing and tragic mistake montage)I started rearranging the house in various configurations, running tests on the dough we were using to see how long it took to bake, and making appropriate changes while running it by taste testers.
I substituted ingredients for quicker bake time while preserving taste, making the cookies as thin as possible without comprising frosting ratio, canvas space for creativity, and/or comprising structural integrity, etc.
Come the day of baking, I have everything down to a science. As friends and family come in, I give them the rundown. After a couple of hours most kinks are worked out, and cookies are flowing out at a breakneck pace.
Eventually, we start running out of material! Something that never happened under my wife's Aegis. We start making runs to the store for the necessary raw materials to fuel our mighty cookie forges!
By the time we were exhausted around 2 a.m., we had produced at least 5 times the amount of cookies we ever had before. Well, my wife gets home a couple days later and is weirdly upset.
She insists the cookies taste weird, that we spent too much money, and that I was actively trying to make her look bad by making so much more than her.
In truth, I ran blind tests to see if anyone could differentiate between our old recipe and mine, and no one could.
I also only spent 40% more than years previous as I slotted in some cheaper ingredients and bought some stuff in bulk, and I had absolutely zero intention of upstaging her, I simply had the goal of 'maximize cookie production'
She says that even if I didn't do it on purpose that I should have thought about how it made her look to our circles and that I have embarrassed her, and she actually called me an a**hole.
She's never called me an a**hole in all 3 years of marriage, so I can't help but think I am. AITA?
The cookie-loving people of the web jumped on with their thoughts.
Idk if you’re T A, but it sounds like you took something she enjoys and was sad about missing and did it without her. I would be sad if someone did that to me personally.
Why are you guys turning something that sounds cool/fun (baking cookies) into something out of Gordon Ramsey?
NAH. You didn’t do anything “wrong,” per se, and your methods sound fun and add a competitive edge which enhances the excitement for some people.
But no one likes to discover that a tradition on which they’ve spent time and effort and enjoy doing doesn’t need them at all to function and may even be “better” without their hard work.
Maybe consider telling your wife how much you and your friends missed her at this year’s event, and that you’d rather have her and less cookies than so many more cookies without her.
So...why did you deliberately try to make way more cookies than your wife and run blind taste tests to prove your point? Because if you just tried to help and did a good job and she was annoyed, I'd be blaming her.
But you're really bragging in this post about how you did a much better job with science and rigor, and there's no obvious explanation for why you were trying to outshine her.
If this was her thing, and your goal was to prove you could do it better, then you do come across as the AH.
I notice she said they tasted bad, you spent too much, and you deliberately tried to make her look bad...and you only defended the first two points.
Everyone seems to overlook the wife's 'only I can do it right, you're obviously incapable of doing it as good as me' attitude. I don't blame OP for trying extra hard to shine.
Also, if they've only ever done this together, how would OP have known she would get so resentful over him succeeding? Was he supposed to do a terrible job on purpose to spare her feelings?
One would think she would be proud, or at least supportive, that he did so well. It just feels so selfish to see the result, try to tear it down, and claim it was done to make you look bad.
Especially when I doubt anyone in their circles cares about who made cookies, or will even remember this one-off year going forward.
What I don't get is, if this meant so much to her, why couldn't they have done it on another weekend when she would be around?
NTA. You said you were going to bake them, and you baked them. Some may find your methods odd, but I get that you were enthusiastic about it, maybe went a little overboard, but I don't see anything vindictive in your behavior.
Even the taste tests, if I'm understanding correctly, were done before the accusation that yours aren't as good as hers, which suggests to me that point was to make sure people would enjoy the cookies.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't get why she thinks this would make her look bad to your friends.
Unless she has it in her mind that everyone knows she makes the best cookies and/or she likes feeling like she did so much of the work herself (you mentioned she doesn't let anyone help) and you ruined that feeling for her.
I can see why she thinks you were trying to upstage her, but at least in your description, it sounds more like you got caught up in 'challenge accepted' and it was a misunderstanding. Give her some time to cool off and talk it out later.
I'm really torn on this one....you strike me as an engineer because of the way you approached this btw. I'm a bit impressed with the amount of prep and thought you put into it.
Which I have to imagine you did because you wanted to show your wife that you're capable, not as a middle finger to her. Her sarcastic reply made it clear she expected disaster.
However, she took it as you were trying to supercede her as cookie master and it hurt her feelings. She also missed out on a fun night that she was probably really bummed about.
That being said she sounds a little jealous that it went over so well without her, and she was expecting you to bomb. I think there's a bigger issue here than the cookie quality and amount.
If she wants you to forgo a tradition you guys have because she won't be present, she needs to say that. If she felt left out, she needs to say that. For whatever reason it's important that she be the cookie person, talk to her about why that is.
Reassure her you weren't trying to replace her, but wanted to do way better than she thought you would.
Cookies are normally the great unifier, but in this case they're the great divider.