Never again will I actually see my dad come through the door Christmas Eve with a large box of Christmas cookies from his good customer, Volmer’s Bakery, Denver’s premier bakery in days gone by.
Never again will I enjoy those cookies and a little eggnog with my parents, Aunt Kay, Uncle Paul—all of whom passed many years ago—my cousins Bob and Murph, whom I ha- ven’t seen in years, and my sister Jan, who I rarely see.
Never again will I go caroling with Jan, cousin Mary Lynn and her tuba-playing brother, Philip. (Both cousins have passed away.) We were quite the quartet those Christmas nights!
As dear as these memories from about 60 years ago are, I realized this year how they hold me in bondage and affect my behavior during the holidays. I measure present holidays against these idolized standards.
Good grief! For decades I have not been in the now, and have fiction- alized, I am sure, many of the old memories.
I don’t want to miss the now anymore. I want to value and appreciate the smoked turkey my daughter cooked. (No, it was not the golden-baked turkey with raisin stuffing that my grandmother made.) I want to be open to my other daughter when she suggested a hike and then a simple holiday meal. (Gee, it sounded like such fun! Why would I miss the turkey? I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years.)
And so what if some of my family members don’t appreciate my Aunt Jean’s delicious, low-calorie yams or green beans? If they want goopy, sweet, high-calorie vegetables, so be it! Thank goodness my daughters and their families are with me, and my darling grandchildren, too.
I could “wring their necks,” as my mom used to say, when my grand- children put up their noses and won’t eat special holiday dishes. My parents would have sent me away from the table. My children indulge their kids. And they can—they’re not my kids.
Growing up, my children did not hear tales about the Depression and World War II food rationing, or see horrible newspaper pictures of ema- ciated concentration camp prisoners like I did. They have always had a bountiful variety of fresh food available to them all year long.
Just because I choose to replicate my mother’s beautiful holiday meals doesn’t mean my daughters have to, or that I have failed passing down beloved traditions. I have given up my idea of having my family gathered around my long dining room table. It’s much easier to go to one of my daughters’ homes and chill out while kids run around the house.
God knows what my grandchildren’s holiday memories of me will be—it’s really none of my business. I’m just going to enjoy myself and put my old memories back in their place of days gone by.