Monday, December 23rd, 2013


I can get pretty darned holiday hyper.
Right now I think the world is going to end because I can’t find the James
Beard cookbook with my every Christmas Eve chicken chili recipe in it.
It is the first cookbook I bought.
I had it tucked on a high kitchen shelf for years. Scared it would get lost or
destroyed in a house with five kids.  Now kids are gone.  And so is the book.
Gone. James Beard is gone. 
Christmas is ruined!

Can’t find one of the pieces of a felt advent calendar we’ve hung for 42 years.
Christmas is ruined!

Put the tree up too early.  Looks a little petrified.
Christmas is ruined.

The local picturesque main street is looking head shop sloppy.
Christmas is ruined.

I have to wrap, cook, make a special meaningful present, find all the lost things, write cards, put up the Charlie Brown tree on the front porch, call far away friends.  Two days to go.  Christmas is ruined.

It’s commercial, it’s exhausting, it’s over stimulating.  Christmas is ruined.

That’s my screed.  Here’s my creed that saves Christmas for me.  Really.  

***I will be with people who love me or who never will regardless.  So I’ll  get over performance anxiety that Christmas can bring.
***I will know the difference between tradition and obligation.  One is satisfying
even if hard to do (like the darn chicken chili without the recipe!) and the other
is tough to do even if easy. 
***I will remember that once people get into the house with coats and gifts and food, that the house will be a mess anyway
***I will sit every three hours with coffee, tea or a glass of wine and just breathe and shift into a slower gear.  I’ll find a hiding place to breathe. 
***I will participate at my own gathering and not be the host every minute
***I will do one thing less than I planned 
***I will get it through my head that Christmas can’t be ruined.  Just enough tradition will carry it with a different tone and permutation each year
***I will remember that Christmas is both sacred and pagan. I won’t insist on one or the other.  
***I will allow the built up rhythms of our particular Christmas history carry me as I step back to catch my breath from a year with lots of family deaths.
***I will enjoy watching as my adult kids step to the fore and do the  cooking and managing and coping. 

I’m in the mood for a very silent night.
Don’t ruin Christmas.


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