My Tuesday post is late this week due to an internet glitch. So are all my posts, but here I am!
Since I was a child, Christmas has held magic for me. Mom and Dad always saw that there was a turkey dinner to share with the extended family, as well as fruitcake (yes, there are those of us who like it) and lots of other goodies. There were all sorts of preparations for the big day, including baking, shopping, parties and of course the cleaning of every corner of our two-story, nine-occupant home. We all got excited to put up a tree and stockings for Santa’s convenience, and thought it not at all unusual to place a bottle of beer alongside the jolly man’s cookies on the big night. We always checked to be sure he ate and drank his treat, too.
I brought this Yule love with me into my life as wife and mother, perpetuating my favourite traditions and establishing new ones that fit our household. As years went by the celebrations became more elaborate, and my new tradition was to challenge myself every year to outdo the previous year’s celebration.
A few years ago, I made the decision to pass the torch to the next generation. Our youngest son and his family generously agreed to host the family Christmas dinner with a turkey provided by us. This was indeed a good deal for us. For the cost of a large bird, a vegetable dish and a tray (okay, it was several large bins – I love to bake and my grandkids love to eat) I was able to get nearly a full day’s sleep after my night shift and just show up for dinner. No wonder my kids were so happy to have it the other way around for so long! We still put up a tree and celebrated with friends and family when time allowed, but the buildup to the season no longer dominated my life, and I liked it.
The first year I attempted to reduce my load, instead of baking every recipe in my Holiday arsenal, I asked my husband and each of our sons which seasonal treat was the one without which it would not feel like Christmas. Four people gave me a list of only three essential baked products. That’s what I call a win for our budget, our cholesterol levels and my newly un-frayed nerves.
Last year, my husband and I spent our first Christmas away from family. Not only did we survive the experience, we found it to be a liberating one. In the short time between our arrival in early November and the onset of the Holiday season, we had been unconditionally accepted by a remarkable group of people. With this new “family” we celebrated with fabulous pot luck dinners and a casual champagne brunch on the desert on Christmas morning. I brought one dish of my choosing to each “do” and enjoyed a massive array of the favourites of our many friends. I will continue to produce a Meatloaf Wellington or another crowd-pleaser each season, not because I’m obligated, but because it brings me such joy to do so.
With the help of the internet, we are able to connect with the ones at home, and see how the grandkids are growing. Canada Post and USPS play a big part as well, though as retirees our spending has been reduced along with our stress levels.
This year, as newly minted old hands at this, we look forward to another relaxing Christmas season spent in the sunshine in the desert at Quartzsite Arizona. The magic is still there, in the form of our family of friends, good food, great music and conversation, and the sure knowledge that we are a valued component of the gathering.
Whatever your faith or traditions, this Tuesday, and this December, I suggest you take a step back and decide what is truly important to your Holiday celebrations. Which of your customs do you follow because you feel you must and which do you truly love? This year, just think about eliminating one nonessential activity that fails to bring you joy.