Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different: Happy Holidays

In honor of the holiday I am taking a break from the usual craft article to post an essay I wrote for my local newspaper.

Happy Holidays

For my family, 2008 marks the end of a ten-year Christmas Eve tradition. Ironically, this tradition was begun to replace another far older one, the year we lost a member of my generation and the best cook of my mother's generation, the only one we could entrust with the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, was too feeble to carry it on. So that year my husband and I took over, opening our house to both friends and family all of Christmas Eve day.

The tag line for our invite was, "Stop on the way, or spend the day." Those with their own dinner plans or church services to attend could stop early for a cup of Wassail and some munchies, while those with no particular place to go could hang out and make our buffet their main meal.

In that ten years, as you can imagine, the weather was all over the spectrum and the number attending waxed and waned. One year the kids might go sledding between sandwiches another would find them roller blading in shirt sleeves. The year of the flu epidemic we spent days finishing the leftovers, while another year I had to run out for extra paper plates in the middle of the party. Friends moved away, old folks passed away, and new people entered our lives, filling the empty places on our guest list and making our tradition their tradition.

As often happens, the march of time was marked most notably by the changes in the younger guests. My daughter and her friends progressed from playing video games and watching Frosty the Snowman in the back room to spending more time mingling with the regular guests. The boys matured too, and overnight, it seemed, the girls' outfits turned from frilly skirts and Santa pins to spaghetti straps and heals. They all stayed longer and the boys, at least, ate more.

This year my daughter graduated from college and moved out of state. She was, I suspect, a little more relieved than she let on that her job would not allow her to come "home for the holidays." Christmas is tough on adult children––at least until they have children of their own. Raiding your stocking with Mom and Dad looking on feels a little too regressive, while sleeping in and skipping the whole thing feels too spiteful and adolescent.

Being back to just the two of us,and, truth be told, having felt more frazzled the last couple of years than we did in the beginning, Mom and Dad have opted for a quiet dinner with our remaining family. Meanwhile, down in Raleigh, NC my daughter and her roommate will be entertaining friends––other young people who won't be spending the holiday with their families either, for whatever reason. I plan to give her some tips I picked up over the years, and she's asked for some of my recipes.

So I guess, in a way, the tradition continues.


sapheyerblu said...

Oh honey, I don't know whether to be happy for you, or sad for you. I understand either way, though. This will be my son's last year home for Christmas for awhile. He graduates high school in May, and will be heading out for the Navy sometime there after. Our family tradition has been Oyster Stew every Christmas Eve, and this year, my son made it. He's determined to carry on the tradition for the next generation.

Great post, thanks and Merry Christmas

Angie Ledbetter said...

Here's to traditions spreading far and wide. Hope your day is great, and on into the new year too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails