Christmas 2020 ... Oh Yes, It's Different
I feel sad this month. I walk around the quiet Café, Bakery, and Tearoom and miss the cacophony of people enjoying BonBonerie like they have for 37 years. Most of you may not know that we didn’t even have a store front the first five years we were in business. At that time, we only sold to restaurants and to an occasional customer who knew about us from one of the restaurants we served. It was during one of our early Christmases, while working out of the basement kitchen of the Media Center Building on McMillan, that we made the decision to set an ordered cake on a picnic table outside of the kitchen door for a customer who hadn’t shown up so our little staff of five could go enjoy our Christmas lunch together. She did pick up her cake and eventually mailed us a check. It’s a lot different now as all of you know. Many more hands making many more cakes and cookies. There’s no time for holiday lunches until January, which is often when we had our BonBonerie Christmas party for years.
Last week, Angela, our talented artist-in-residence cookie decorator and I were trying to remember some of the Christmas cookies we dreamed up in the past. There was a dog house with lights hanging on the front, a snow globe, ugly sweaters, a truck with a tree, an owl, a snowman, a penguin, a moose, a golden retriever, a mouse, an angel, snowflakes, stockings and Christmas mittens. Each of us have had our favorites, but they rarely get made more than once. Every year, we try to give you your favorites – Santa and a tree never go away, but the other two selections of the set of four are up for grabs. This year we tried a cup of hot chocolate, a cupcake, a mason jar full of holly, a wiener dog in a holiday scarf, and finally chose the word JOY, embellished with holiday flourishes, and a fireplace with a fire glowing inside and stockings hanging from the mantle.
A few years ago, I remember telling our general manager, Tracy Daugherty, that it was my goal to have every square inch of the BonBonerie full of food and fun in the month of December. And did she ever help to make my dream come true with gingerbread house classes, afternoon teas with Santa, family lunches in the Café, all while the bakery staff assembled fanciful cookie boxes for sale for the front lobby. I loved to watch your smiling and sometimes exasperated faces waiting for your numbers to be called in the crowded lobby. Your holiday coats and hats would often provide an unexpected fashion show in the midst of our endless days. During the month of December, the customers, bakers, decorators and counter sales team became a part of a beautiful theatrical production which I like to call “The BonBonerie Christmas Bakery Story”. I just loved watching it happen. Most of us here have a love-hate relationship with the stress the holidays have brought to us and our families, but I was always so proud, and so were they, of what we had accomplished. What beautiful and delicious creations came out of this funny labyrinthian space on a one-way street … every year.
Today I walked through the empty halls between the Café and the Bakery, knowing it’s better for us NOT to be mingling. Half of the tables in the Café have been removed fo social distancing, but Jess, our café manager, continues to make beautiful lunches complete with a flower on your fruit cup, even if you order something to go. Quality has not diminished, and she has figured a way for you to enjoy an Afternoon Tea Experience, complete with a three-tier pastry stand, at home.
In November, I took a look at my multitude of holiday decorations packed away from last year and decided to decorate the Café and Tearoom in case you came by (since the lobby of the bakery is closed through Christmas). I always loved to decorate the bakery for your delight. Decorating this year gave me the opportunity to squelch some of the sadness I had been feeling in anticipation of what we were going to have to do because of COVID. We actually love seeing you as much as you like seeing us. We are vigilantly creating for you and hope to bring a bright spot to these sad days. Come see us in our outdoor marketplace in the large parking lot across the street. There’s plenty of your favorites there to purchase as gifts or to treat yourself and you may even see some of your favorite people, although you may not recognize them bundled up in their winter coats and hats. Perhaps we can be a little happier together.