In Which I Figure Out My Christmas “Thing”

So you might remember that at the beginning of the month, I explained why I bought myself a Christmas present — the tl;dr being that at a certain point, adults have to figure out how they want to celebrate holidays, in lieu of or in addition to their parents’ or extended family’s traditions.

I’m going with in addition to, which is why I ended the piece by asking myself how I could also give “my Christmas” to my family:

What is the thing that I bring to this experience, because so far it’s just been “my physical body and some presents.”

Then I ran that Throwback Thursday piece about those holiday parties we had in our childhoods and are disappointed we aren’t having as adults — which, admittedly, has a tinge of privilege to it, because not everyone grew up going to the professor-next-door’s wassail and expensive liquor holiday celebration-plus-lecture, the kind of event where all the guests wear velvet and every end table has a cut glass dish filled with chocolates or assorted nuts. But I did (down to the “plus lecture”), and one of the things I miss about the holidays as an adult is the part where you sit in church holding a lit candle, knowing that as soon as the service is over, you are going to go to town on your neighbor’s eggnog and cheese logs.

And then I thought “Nicole, you can just buy a cheese log.”

Which, of course I could. Cheese logs are not that expensive, as it turns out.

But this thought was immediately followed by “and you can put chocolates and liquorice allsorts and assorted nuts into little bowls, and you can get gherkins and black olives and dates and apricots and toothpicks, and you can get bread from the local bakery and sausage from the local sausage foundry and pie from the local pie shop, and you can put all of this food in your apartment and then you can invite your parents.”

There are a couple of reasons why I haven’t done anything like this before. One of them is that I did in fact try to cook Christmas dinner for my family, the first year I lived in Washington DC, and it was a disaster. The other one is that my family and I usually spend Christmas visiting my aunt in the nursing home and then flying to DC on Christmas Day itself (because that’s when tickets are cheapest) to visit my sister and brother-in-law and now-toddler-aged nephew, and none of that really lends itself to choking-hazard-sized food that must be eaten with toothpicks, much less piles of chocolates.

But this year my sister and her family are flying to visit us right before New Year’s, and if they would like a similar spread of assorted local goodies I can make that happen — but what I am making happen is a Christmas Eve smorgasbord to rival the ones I’ve no doubt enhanced through memory, at a very reasonable cost since I’m only doing it for three people, and since I’m buying nearly everything precooked from someone else there is no way I can screw this up. (I am going to try to make the wassail myself, but I am prepared to pour it down the drain.)

I know that this is the type of gift that is more about me than it is about my family, in that I don’t really think either of my parents were jonesin’ for peppermint bark, but I’m hoping they’ll appreciate it when they arrive.

And if they like it, maybe I’ll do it again next year.

Photo by Caglar Araz on Unsplash

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