Merry Christmas to all - and best wishes for a wonderful New Year, 2019!
Holidays like this tend to make me reflective. I think back to when we had a houseful of loved ones for the holidays. We seemed to host most of them and enjoyed it thoroughly.
When my husband and I were first married, I thought it was time for me to take over the job of entertaining. I was the oldest child of five and our mother never really enjoyed making a big meal and all that it entailed. Our grandmother, in her day had hosted and was not about to retake the job. I, on the other hand, had the time and enjoyed all the hoopla quite a bit. I was hesitant about cooking the turkey, but got over it with help from a well-timed article in one of the women's magazines that year. It turned out quite well and a new tradition was born... Once I got the scheduling down, the rest was fun. Desserts and anything else I could manage was made ahead and the day fell into a rhythm.
Those first years, we were the only married ones of the kids and we would have a great time, eating, drinking, playing games and generally having fun. Sometimes we would extend the circle and invite my in-laws or my uncle's family and the table would swell. Sometimes, friends would be in town and they would join us. Sometimes we couldn't quite get everyone together for the occasion
because of work, other obligations or travel and the group would be a bit smaller.
As time went on, the brothers and sister would bring friends and eventually married and brought spouses. We were a slow group to reproduce, so we were still a bunch of young adults with Mom and our grandmother, Mimi. It was just always a good time... except, as we got older, there just seemed to be something missing. It was time to start families... For some of us that was easier said than done.
Slowly, we started adding to the family around the table and it was wonderful. As the family grew, the dinners changed. We were never quite sure who would show up, but at some point, almost everyone would get here. The children were the center of attention and the days of leisurely ruminating were gone. It was exuberant - full of joy... exhausting! But we loved every moment of it. Four generations celebrating together. That time was brief, but wonderful. Looking back, to me it was idyllic.
Now, the children have grown and Mom and Mimi are gone. One brother has passed and another has obligations with his own family. My sister lives nearby, but her daughter has moved to the west coast and our son is in Colorado this year.
Our holidays are so different now. We (my husband, my sister and I) tried going out for the meal last year. It was good, but my husband missed the ensuing days of left-overs and I even missed preparing the sumptuous meal eaten at home. This year, we decided to make a small turkey and I almost managed to make reasonably sized side dishes, but old habits die hard and there are containers of left-over veggies, turkey, etc filling every space in the fridge. Parts of two pies (down from 4 or 5) haunt us.
The big tree is still in the field this year and all the many decorations are still in the attic. We just have a little lit-up ceramic tree as evidence of the day. Of course, it will easily stow in the hall closet and I won't be swamped with the sadness of putting it all away on New Years' Day as I used to be in the old days.
It was nice and we threw our respective food restrictions to
the wind for the day, but those few perfect years when the kids were
small make us ache for those days. How does that quote go from Splendor
in the Grass? "We will grieve not, rather
find strength in what remains behind." So very grateful for the wonderful
memories we have and trying to adjust to this new way of celebrating.
Anyhow, what I'm saying is, please, even in the crazy whirl of the holidays, treasure these days with your family. They are brief and wonderful.