Thursday, December 6, 2018

The World is Falling Down, Hold My Hand. A post by @GiselleRenarde

My best friend wrote to me the other day. She asked, "What's your favourite Christmas food?"

She was eavesdropping on some people who were discussing the topic, both of whom agreed their favourite Christmas food was... mashed potatoes.

My friend thought this was very odd. She eats mashed potatoes all the time and doesn't consider it a festive food in the least.

I consider stuffing to be the Christmassy-est food. Out of curiosity... what would YOU consider to be the most festive food for this time of year?

My friend told me about this very specific square her aunt used to make for their dessert tray. It doesn't have a name, as far as she knows. But she hasn't had one of those squares in years, because her family hasn't had a big Christmas gathering in ages.

Her grandmother died this year, too.  Hers was even older than mine, well into her nineties. So I guess this will be the first Christmas without a matriarch for both our families.

It's funny how you start feeling close to the top of the food chain, when the older generations die off. Except, in this food chain, death is at the top of the food pyramid. It'll get you, in the end.  Every time.

I wish my friend lived closer to me, or I lived closer to her. She was telling me she's feeling very festive. She's not usually a Christmas person, but this year she feels like making a gingerbread house and baking cookies.  And December's only just begun!

But I guess I can relate to the need for festiveness, considering I just started reading an honest-to-god Christian Romance because it's got "Christmas" in the title.  Listen, I am not a romance reader. I am not a Christian. That's how desperate I am for... for...

For what?

Last night, I watched about 5 minutes of a British TV show about people who celebrate Christmas all year long. I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be funny.  To me, it was more "yikes" than amusing, because all these Christmas people struck me as the saddest of sad clowns. "Following his divorce, this man started celebrating Christmas every day of the year..."

What is it we're yearning for when we get in the holiday spirit?

Peace? Kindness? Compassion? Generosity?


On my mother's side, we've always celebrated Christmas a week ahead of time.  We'd do Christmas Day individually, in our own homes, but for my grandmother, that big family gathering was her real Christmas.  My grandfather was an atheist, but he was raised Jehovah's Witness, so he didn't celebrate at all. I don't know what the two of them did on Christmas Day. Pretty sure it was just another day, for them.

That's why I was so surprised when some of my aunts and uncles suggested that we NOT continue our traditional family party. I understand where they're coming from, because they stated it outright:

It'll be too difficult. It'll be too sad.

But that party was my grandmother's favourite day of the year.  She loved her family, and there were very few occasions when she got to see us all (or, at least, the vast majority of us). We'd do something for Mother's Day, have a party on her birthday, but Christmas was the big celebration.

The party is going ahead, but a few of my aunts and uncles have dropped out. I don't hold that against them. As I've mentioned many times before, we don't show emotions in my family. Instead of running to each other for support, we run to our corners to be sad in secret.

If we don't hold the party this year, a year that saw the deaths of my grandmother and my cousin, we never will again. I watched my father's family fall apart. My friend has seen the same with hers. I have so little left in my life--people, especially. I can't lose my family. They mean too much to me.


  1. "What is it we're yearning for when we get in the holiday spirit?
    Peace? Kindness? Compassion? Generosity?

    All of the above, I'd say. And if that's what Christmas means, then in fact it would be wonderful to celebrate it all year long.

    I'm glad you're continuing your family tradition. Even the grief is part of healing.

  2. Cookies. The cookies I only bake at Christmas. My chocolate-butterscotch pinwheel cookies may be the main thing my granddaughter remembers about me when she's my age.

    I think what many, even most, people, want from Christmas is how they felt then when they were kids. Or if they didn't have happy childhoods, then to try to create the happiness they didn't have. If you're the one in charge of making the holiday happy, though, you're not all that likely to enjoy it that much yourself.

    I do have a good family circle situation when it comes to celebrating holidays like Christmas, but I just hope it will continue after my very old father is gone. We're united to some extent by the wish to keep him as happy as we can while he can still enjoy things. The only child now in our family is my twelve-year-old granddaughter, so she's barely a child, and when she's grown up and leading her own life our festivities may well be more subdued. I intend to keep on celebrating as long as I can, though, even if I very seldom feel like I've done the holiday justice, or at least fulfilled the hopes of others. (Feeling down a bit just now because of all the work I have to do making room for the Christmas tree, sine that room is still filled with boxes and bags of stuff I need to sort, brought from my father's house when I sold it for him. Sorting family photos feels like the most important task, but doesn't clear as much space as deciding what to do with other things.)