About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Crisis Christmas

There are only 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and that's not enough.  I don't think that's one bit funny, no sir, that's a Communist plot, un-American and a cruel joke as far as I'm concerned.  I begin to get anxious about the whole thing in August because you know Labor Day is coming and right after that Halloween candy appears in the grocery stores. I try to avert my eyes in denial and avoid those Christmas trees in the mall announcing it's coming just like "Jaws".  My hair dresser even reminded me," it's only 11 weeks until Christmas day."  Was he trying to turn my hair grey or just get me to book for the "holiday look"?

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving but as soon as all the family headed back to their quarters, I felt the rise of queasiness.  It's all my mother's fault for the way I feel about Christmas.  She set the bar so high, I can never pull off what she did for so many years.  She said if the Lord meant for us to live abundantly, Christmas was the time to do it right.  Gifts, decorations, food, friends and family reached an apex in each December at our house.  I was still a novice in her opinion when she gave me Martha Stewart's Christmas.  It was the first time I'd heard of the domestic diva and my conclusion after perusing the book was, "this woman is crazy."  There where so many, many time consuming but brilliant ideas to create an epic holiday, it drove me crazy. Eventually, I was sucked right in making gingerbread houses, homemade marshmallows and decorating cookies.  Mother was smart enough not to try to do it all herself.  She enlisted the best collaborators to ensure a successful holiday. Her ace assistant was Daddy, a good cook and chairman of the Christmas tree(s).

My husband has made his own contribution to my condition.  He had the perfect childhood, perfect parents and perfect Christmas' right up until his parents died in a plane crash at age 11.  After that, Christmas sounded more like Charles Dicken's David Copperfield.  I'll never forget the first happy Christmas we spent together while we where dating. It's been my mission to create the kind of home he lost (right down to his Christmas stocking) ever since. 

Fifteen years ago, Mom finally passed the baton only because her eye site was failing and she really couldn't meet her own standards anymore. She'd given me the blueprint so I had 24 for sit down dinner with all the silver, crystal and linens and 3 entrees, made the gingerbread house, decorated the cookies, decorated the house, wrapped the gifts, made the homemade gifts for neighbors, and on and on.  One year after the big Christmas Eve deal, I didn't get a chance to eat a single bite and woke up at 3 a.m. hungry and mad.  There was only a congealed cranberry mold left.  That was a pivotal moment. Mutiny on the Christmas Bounty.  I slowly pared it down .

Family dynamics have evolved with birth, death and marriage.  I've just returned from Dallas to have a mini-Christmas with my son and his bride. That's a new tradition. This is the first Christmas a child will be away from home.  I also have a one year old grandson. He's pretty new but there are already lots of new traditions with him.  My parents both have dementia.  They haven't taken their artificial Christmas tree down since the big event moved to my house 15 years ago.  My Mother said if she ever took it down, they'd never get it back up.  So it's Christmas everyday at her house and that's a good thing for them. It's part of just holding on for them.

Nine days are left and it's coming like a Mac Truck. Now that I've pared it down, I want it impossible again.  Is that a sign of something like, I'm getting old and lazy or do I like driving myself crazy like I did in the past?  The tree is up. Decorations are just adequate. Still shopping and wrapping. Can't think of a thing for some of the tough ones. Ugh! Store bought gourmet oil & vinegar for neighbors will have to do. Silver is polished thanks to the help.  I can probably squeeze in two or three dozen simple decorated cookies. Have a few friends in for drinks next weekend.  Just 10 or so Christmas Eve, BUT next year, I will do a gingerbread house for my grandson. 

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