Last night, I hosted a dinner for twenty people. In addition to our family of four, we had my parents, my brother, my sister, her husband, their three (soon to be four) kids, my husband’s parents, his sister, her husband, their three kids, and my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law. I felt just like Clark Griswold, scheming out the “hap, hap, happiest Christmas since . . .” You get the point. I was jazzed.
The big Christmas Eve affair went imperfectly, with lots of little and a couple of glaring deficiencies. But what was great far outweighed what wasn’t. And that’s how I roll.
I super love Christmas, even though there are moments of stress and grief. Christmas brings bountiful opportunities to celebrate the joy I’m constantly seeking. Here are some of the ways I’m focusing on joy this season:
1. I’m honoring my heritage. Until I started eating Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with other people’s families, I didn’t realize my family ate exotic ethnic foods. (I sorely missed the sweet and sour red cabbage and the holiday lebkuchen my Mom makes every year.) This year, I brought my kids into the tradition. We spent a lovely morning carefully following the recipe on which their grandmother’s grandmother made little notes and spilled orange juice.
Holiday lebkuchen – a family favorite
It got messy, and the boys lost interest after awhile. But we shared a special project with generations of kinfolk, and we’re all enjoying the outcome.
2. I’m connecting with people. In addition to the Christmas feasting with family, I’m getting together with a childhood friend for drinks tomorrow, chatting with folks on the phone (gasp,) and sending and receiving holiday cards. Social media can be fun, but I’m enjoying all the old-school ways of keeping in touch.
Not exactly a Pinterest-worthy display, but we’ve been loving the cheer as our collection grows.
3. I’m keeping things simple. For last night’s dinner, I outsourced the Beef Wellingtons, made the cabbage, mashed potatoes, and pink salad ahead of time, used store-bought crusts for the tiny cherry pies on sticks, and accepted everyone’s offer for appetizers, wine, and desserts. I wanted to spend time with everyone, not spend the evening in the kitchen.
tiny cherry pies on sticks
4. I’m going with the flow. Like when we tried to go to Mass yesterday. It was like the Black Friday of worship – people walking from four blocks away in all directions, aggressive parking interactions, questionable adherence to fire codes – it was intense. I gave a yeoman’s effort before conceding to the crowd and coming back home. We can try again today.
I also kept it cool when suddenly all my cloth napkins went missing during our big dinner. So folks paired the china, silver, and crystal with paper napkins. Nobody cared. (Except me, for like four seconds. But then I let it go.)
5. I’m making every moment count. I’m sipping coffee and playing Lexulous with my husband, building Nanoblocks and Lego structures with my kids, taking long walks with my dog, literally smelling the flowers my mother brought, and otherwise committing to a philosophy of savoring the moments in life.
classic – the box is always more interesting than what’s inside
Merry Christmas to you all, and best wishes for a joyful, healthy, and successful 2015.