We’ve gotten to that point in my family where my parents are no longer able to do the Christmas thing. I assumed last year was the last one, and it was pretty good, if bittersweet. Also adding to the challenges is that Christmas is on a Wednesday — the worst day of the week, unless you have oodles of vacation time and a job that doesn’t pretend to need you for a week around the holidays. I’ll work at the beginning of the week, but it’s my personal policy to not work the day after a big holiday. It’s barbaric, and I’m just going to spend the whole day chatting with the only other person who came in. Or I’ll push my papers around my desk in an attempt to get organized for the new year and make lists of how I’m going to exercise more and eat more vegetables. Or I’ll scrounge for that last cookie or chocolate tower someone left in the office kitchen before heading to their holidays. Believe me, it’s better that I stay safely tucked away from the public at home in my pajamas.
My sister and brother-in-law will have the Christmas day visit, and the rest of us have spread out our visits, and me and the kid will show up the weekend after Christmas. Since we were freed from the tyrannical Wednesday Christmas and hanging out at home, the kid suggested we make beef Wellington. Which is kind of funny because he’s not a foodie at all, and I can count on 2 hands the things he will eat; at least half of those involve something fried or cheesy or both. But he’s been a fan of Gordon Ramsey for a few years, and this is apparently is his signature dish. So who am I to say no? We watched a video together of Gordon making it, which the kid has seen many times. As Gordon masterfully manhandled all the ingredients and shaped and rolled everything perfectly, we both laughed that ours would probably not look as good as his, but we’ll have fun messing around in the kitchen. And if we don’t create a new tradition (gotta wait to see how it comes out first, right?) we’re at least managing to make Christmas something we’ve never done before, and somehow that makes not having our usual traditions a little easier.
Although I can still observe some traditions at my house, like making homemade Chex mix, which we call “crunch”. It has 1 lb of butter, so it’s far superior, although perhaps also more lethal than the store bought version. What I’m going to do with 1.5 gallons of crunch for 2 people I’m not sure, but my mother made it every year since I can remember, and it’s the tradition that counts, dammit.
I asked the kid if he had any special memories of Christmas, and he said going to my mom’s house (his Memere), which has always been Christmas Central for both of us. He also mentioned that on Christmas Eve, we’d visit my childhood friend and her family at her mom’s house, which was a 5-minute walk from my parents’ house. Childhood friends at a childhood home with the next generation. Sweet. Because the past few Christmases have been changing with my mom’s illness, we haven’t done that, so as adults often do, I’d forgotten about it. It was nice to remember that we have had many good Christmases, and that we have been adding new traditions all along the way. We’ve been growing, changing, and adapting all this time, and even though we have some tough changes coming, I know we can find new ways to be together.
And if not, there will always be butter-drenched crunch.