I’ve killed this piece three times so far. I think the razing of yesterday’s ramblings on guilt was the last big gutting. But really, it was trite. Been there, done that.
I wanted to like the paragraphs I wrote on our snow day but I don’t write descriptive dialogue very well: my imagery was stilted and hackneyed and didn’t do the juncos justice. It, too, was metaphorically shredded.
I liked the mint introduction. There are more than seven-hundred plants in the mint family and lavender is one of them. Cooking with it suddenly makes more sense. Unfortunately, that introduction took on a mind of its own and I couldn’t make it circle back around to the point, which is Christmas. Specifically, pandemic Christmas dinner and the changes we face as a result.
They’re hard. They’re uncomfortable. The holiday season has been rewritten for all faiths. People have died, economies are in trouble, and politicians have failed. But that’s global and this is about the specific.
And in the specific, I don’t hate the COVID Christmas rules.
I’m not fine with the pandemic. I’m not okay with the poverty and the pain and the death. But Christmas dinner chez moi is something that feels good to me. No parents, no siblings, no extended families. No stress, no weight in my chest, no biting my tongue, no moderating interactions to ensure smooth sailing. My role as the family facilitator is a heavy one. I’d abdicate but I fear eventual collapse.
But COVID came and interactions changed now I get to have Christmas dinner at home. And although I’ve only cooked a turkey dinner once before, in situations like this, anxiety and compulsiveness can serve one well. My game plan is drawn up, important tasks have been cross-referenced to the calendar, and the plans are broken down into “by-the-hour” for the day proper. I have a folder and it has a copy of all the timeline data and a copy of every recipe. And the tense and uncomfortable feelings that grow every year as I anticipate spending holiday time with my family en masse remain absent.
I feel a little bad about not feeling bad about missing traditional Christmas. I could always decide to embrace some guilt as punishment. Feeling bad about not feeling bad and feeling bad about feeling good are both on the table and they’re comfortably familiar.
But back-pocket for the ugly emotions is fine for now. I will discuss feeling joy at missing family Christmas with my counsellor and she’ll remind me that I know the reasons why. But that’s for January. Today is December 23rd which means there’s jello to make, cake to stale, a defrosting turkey to check on, and silver to polish.
* The household bubble for Christmas dinner versus the extended family tradition. “Solo” for our branch of the family. So very strange. So very welcome.
** In my region, interactions are limited to your direct household. You can add up to two people who live alone to that bubble since being isolated and cut off from all social contact is also a health risk.
photo credit: m.pahl