I’m often of two minds about the holidays and I go back and forth as we get closer to Christmas.
- I don’t like the short days and the fact that it’s dark by 4:30 in the afternoon.
- I love the lights and decorations, how the mall turns sparkly and there’s a sense of something wonderful about to happen.
- I don’t like the crowds and the pushing and shoving that go with them.
- I do[‘t like the pressure to find the best of all possible gifts — and lots of them..
- I like the hot chocolate, cookies, cakes, and other goodies but feel guilty about what they do to my waistline.
- I love the holiday parties and getting together with friends and family.
- I don’t like feeling pressured and rushing to get a lot of things done in too-short a time.
- I like cooking big meals and Christmas treats.
- I don’t like what they do to my waistline.
- I like relaxing with a good book by the fire, preferably while eating popcorn.
- I don’t like—well, there’s nothing I don’t like about that.
I mark the beginning of the holidays by the sound of commercials on TV: they become tinkly. I can be cleaning up after dinner or folding laundry or letting the cat out/in/out/in/out/in when I hear that unmistakable holiday sound. Christmas commercial music leans toward bells, xylophone, triangle and other tinkly percussion instruments. It makes you think of snowfall and stars, fireplaces and hot chocolate, merriment and magic—which is, of course, the whole point.
These musical Jedi mind tricks create the kind of magic that delivers a $50,000 car to your driveway with a big red bow on the top and a diamond necklace under the tree. It also sets a perfect table for 20 and places a fully cooked turkey in your refrigerator. Great stuff.
So far, however, this kind of magic has passed me by. No fancy car, with or without bows. No diamond necklace, which I probably wouldn’t wear anyway, and a downsized dining room that wouldn’t seat 20. Why anyone would cook an entire turkey and then put it in the refrigerator escapes me.
This holiday season has rushed up on me like a train. That’s mostly because we were out of the country from the end of November into the beginning of December and missed the Christmas rush from Black Friday on. We did do some gift shopping in France, and I’m now thankful for that as I only have to fill in a few gaps. But the annual Christmas letter is not yet printed and the cards not yet addressed. Oh, dear. We get fewer and fewer cards every year, though, and I’m thinking of switching to just sending out the letter. Not this year, though.
Those tinkly commercials also remind us of childhood Christmases when there was no pressure and all we had to do was race to the tree to see what Santa had brought us. Well, we ditched the tree when we moved to the condo and most of the ornaments went to my daughter to go on hers. I do put lights on the porch, a swag on the mantle and a few other ornaments around the place. It cuts down on the “must do” list—especially when it comes time to put everything away.
Last weekend we had two parties on Saturday night. I went to the Women’s Alliance party for my church and Seth attended the community party where we live. I had a good time talking to my friends. He got better food. This weekend we have a party on Saturday and another on Sunday so we can both go to those.
This year I’m going to make a Pecan Roll. This was my mother’s signature Christmas dish and she made it every year along with a Swedish Tea Ring. I always preferred the former as I like nuts more than frosting and candied fruit. But I have never actually baked one because it starts with sweet dough and that requires the usual rising and punching down, etc.
As a working mother, I never had the time for the multiple steps and replaced the Pecan Roll with a one-step Sour Cream Streusel Bundt Cake. It involved mixing a box of cake mix, a box of pudding and several other ingredients. The cake tasted great but I no longer eat the kinds of chemicals and preservatives that go into all those mixes. It’s time to pull out the food processor with dough hook and try something new. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Meanwhile, I’m going out this afternoon to fill in some of those gift gaps. Wish me luck.