No recipe today, or for a few days, as I am taking time with my family. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope this season is a time of peace and joy for you and yours. I know, however, that those ingredients are not always part of the recipe during the holidays. Sometimes, in fact, I find that I fight for just a glimpse of peace and joy this time of year.
This occurred to me as both of my kids flopped down on the couch yesterday. “I’m bored,” they said in unison. I suggested a book, game, or puzzle. Even a walk in the rain. I need to make more Peppermint Bark for the neighbors, maybe they’d like to help me with that. Or, God forbid, they partake of the cotton candy for the brain video games available on their myriad of electronic contraptions. Nope. Still bored. Amvets is coming tomorrow. I ask them to go through all their clothes and shoes for children less fortunate than themselves. That’ll teach them to be bored, I tell myself with an evil smile.
And there’s more where that came from. If so inspired, I can morph into the quintessential parent and assault them with stories of my own television-deprived childhood. I mentally consult my menu of parent-inflicted torture devices when it occurs to me what a luxury it is to actually be bored. All the activities I already suggested had been done and enjoyed. And now what they have is time. To do nothing, to have nothing asked of them, to just be.
So instead of expecting some version of the perfect holiday, I reflected on what we’ve done this holiday season which so far, includes baking together and lots of kid sleepovers. We went to one of those special neighborhoods where people light their homes up like Las Vegas on steroids. We had a night time picnic while listening to Christmas music and saw a holiday play. I got to hear my sister play piano at her church’s annual pageant and later dug my toes into sand at the beach of my childhood.
I couldn’t bribe my kids into watching White Christmas with me, so I saw it on my own, singing at the top of my lungs with my dog huddled under a heavy blanked while their dad took them Christmas shopping. And I got to see the wonder and confusion in my 7 year old son’s eyes as we flipped channels, innocently landing on Victoria’s Secret’s Holiday Runway Show. That actually might have been my favorite Christmas moment of all.
But somewhere, amidst all the components that have made up our wonderful, chaotic, boring Christmas vacation thus far, I realized I had found joy and peace if only in small pieces. And tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I’ll buy my tri-tips for Christmas dinner and my potluck potatoes for Christmas Eve and I’ll do one of the things I love – set a beautiful table and serve food to people I love.
But far better than that, I’ll get a front row seat to the giddy excitement and anticipation that will seep from every pore of my children’s beings. And in doing so, I’ll get to revisit my own childhood and the love and safety my parents gave me which is still one of the best Christmas presents I ever received as a child. I’ll be happy if my kids feel the same when they’re my age. In the meantime, I hope they love their gifts and remember to be gracious and thankful and not fight with eachother. And I hope they get plenty bored. Because then, I’ll know they’ll have experienced every ounce of Christmas they possibly could.
So from me and mine to you and yours, I wish you happy, happy holidays.