Tis the Season in Which I Participate

When the question came up during Community Time a coupla weeks ago about whether you are a Scrooge, True Believer, or mere Participant when it comes to Christmas, I sensed that I’m a participant. I just couldn’t really articulate why. And then I landed on a radio station the other morning and it started up a Christmas song. One of the ones I really like. And then it occurred to me that I don’t really listen to much Christmas music…or really even get into Christmas that much anymore.I do try.

I’m the one primarily responsible for decorating (though Al does the lights on the tree), shopping for presents, and gift wrapping. I do basically all of the meal planning, cooking, and baking. I’m also the one involved in coordinating gift giving and other plans with family.

I’m right smack in the middle of it all.

Which is why I can’t be less than a participant.

But that doesn’t mean I enjoy all of it. Or most of it.

Growing up, Mom was in a group of women who got together once a month to play Bridge. Or catch up on the latest news (gossip?) from work. Or both. And everyone agreed that every December, the group was going to meet at our house. It was a combination of things, really. If you knew my mom, you knew that woman could throw down in the kitchen. If you had the opportunity to be at my house between Thanksgiving and the week after New Year, you saw the decorations that were pretty much everywhere. And the Christmas music playing most of the time. And the baking. Good Lord, the baking.

And I still really miss that. As in, I still don’t do well without that.

Certainly, it has gotten better over time. Decorating our tree this year brought back memories of decorating the tree–and even the whole house–in years past. Mom’s Southern Living cookbooks still smell like home…and I’m using one to make a breakfast casserole for an event soon. Other recipes for my holiday baking are hers, too. Others are some I acquired from two Christmases in Ukraine. And all of my people LOVE the results. Even if it sucks the life out of me to make it happen. (Baking is still a mixed bag for me. I love it and I feel connected to Mom…remembering the times I helped in the kitchen or just sat perched on our step stool, talking with Mom while she cooked and baked but staying out of the way in our small kitchen. But it does take a lot out of me.)

Of course, I can’t tell what takes my energy. The extra work I have to do to pull off Christmas in my house…the fact that it’s yet another holiday without the person who made it so special…the fact that it’s the end of another semester of school which always amps up the workload…or a combination of all of it.

Whatever it is, I still participate. Mostly because I’m participating for others. And hoping for the best when all is said and done.

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One thought on “Tis the Season in Which I Participate

  1. I loved reading about the memories of your mother cooking, and appreciated your honesty about the ambivalent feelings you have about doing the same for your family. And it made me think again about our memories, and how that works.

    Once when the boys were small we loaded the three of them into our tiny Toyota and did a day trip to the beach. They whined and fought on the way, and complained while we were there. They were sandy, hungry, tired, whatever. On the way home we stopped to get gas and bought them (red) Slurpees, and the first one who climbed into the backseat spilled his entire (red) 16 ouncer all over the (cloth) seat. They cried and whined all the way home. Lance and I were exhausted. The instant we got home one of them told a neighbor, “We went to the beach! It was GREAT!” For the next few days they talked animatedly about how awesome it was. Their memories were *nothing* like ours were. Funny. And it made me wonder how many of my memorable moments were more complicated from the other side than I ever knew.

    When you are in the kitchen cooking and cleaning you’re making good memories for your family, even if it’s a lot of work for you. Your people will remember the treats, the wonderful smells, the good feelings… And that’s why you’re doing it. It’s a gift you’re giving them, just like your Mom gave it to you. Just because it produces wonderful results doesn’t mean it was easy to make happen, but it can still be worthwhile…

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