The grey and almost freezing pre-December day in Atlanta reminds me that I need Egg Nog. I have spent over half of my life as a wanderer, and even when I set down a few roots, I would pull and tug at them endlessly. I never knew where I was going, sailing the high seas of adventure, never considering what shores might appear on the horizon, but pretending I knew where I wanted to cast ashore. Most of my holidays left me feeling like an observer, a participant in someone else’s feast. Even when I hosted dinner, I felt disconnected from the group gathered to break bread and give hugs. This year, wherever I am, I’m home for the holidays.
My past holidays are filled with depression and complaints about what I didn’t have, what didn’t work, and why I didn’t work. This year, on a warm October night, standing on the banks of a well lit concrete lake outside of an inexpensive food emporium, I declared to someone that this would be the most extraordinary holiday season I’ve ever had, and for everyone around me, too.
I swore this is my last Thanksgiving without a listening of Alice’s Restaurant and my father’s “World’s Greatest Stuffing” with 20 herbs and spices, for which I was the official taster for over 15 years. Apparently there “is no recipe,” and I will now spend years trying to recreate the stuffing that was brilliant either for its flavor or because Dad and I had a tradition of making it together. Although the feedback over the years suggests it’s a little of both.
My relationship to Christmas has always been shaky at best, and mostly humbug. Being raised Jewish, my only access to Xmas as a child were the trappings at school, the music at the mall, visiting friends on Xmas eve or day, and television, my old friend. In college, I gave it a decent try. Cockeyed fir trees and light strings, even doing the gift exchange a few times. I might still have a few ornaments in storage. Florida Xmas leaves much to be desired.
I may not have gingerbread houses or a gaggle of children to celebrate with. But I have my Vince Guaraldi, and a slew of great Xmas friends. I have a family to spend the holidays with, and tradition I have created in the last few years. The cynic in me makes it a point to wish people “Merry Commerce,” even while knowing I should thank big business for creating holidays.
It is utter genius to create occasions where all people celebrate on the same day, where all the parties are going on, where we all come to celebrate things like love, family, and food. How wonderful is it that during the same month of each year, we all agree to be generous, loving, and celebrate another year marked off.
For the first time in my life, I am grateful for the holiday season. Turns out whatever I thought Holiday cheer was has nothing to do with the holidays.
I am getting the one thing I want the most this year, and the one thing I want the most in life: