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December 26, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
I wish I had more to share but our holiday was severely downsized this year.
There have been Christmas’s past where I have spent an inordinate amount of time baking, shopping, wrapping and decorating. I’ve planned huge Christmas dinners and prepared an abundance of covered dishes for our family Christmas Eve gathering.
We’ve hauled trunk-loads of gifts from one house to another, trying to be careful not to poke our fingers through delicate wrappings while we juggled oddly-shaped packages. I’ve baked trays of homemade cookies and candies that ended up in the freezer for as long as six months afterward. In the heat of mid-summer, I could pull out decorated sugar cookies and serve them to friends on the patio.
The problem was that all of those preparations always came with a nearly unbearable amount of stress. Would so-and-so like this gift or would they rush to take it back to the store the day after Christmas? Believe it or not, there was a time (I was young) when I believed the Canadian and British holiday, Boxing Day, was named this because that’s the day people boxed up their gifts and returned them to the stores for something better. Would I have time to fit it all in? Would someone be disappointed in their gift, the food, the decorations? Would I forget someone on my card list?
When I went back to work after a nine-year hiatus, it became evident that something had to give. There was a time when I would spend hours in crowds trying to find the perfect gift, and while I still shop locally as much as I can, I prefer to do my in-person shopping in small, individually owned stores. If I must buy from a box store, I do it online to save time and frustration. Who among us doesn’t have a story to tell of dealing with impatient shoppers, overworked store employees and dangerous parking lots? Gift-wrapping tables now nearly everywhere that will decorate your packages for a minimal donation are saving the day, at least for me. Online stores also offer gift wrapping for a nominal fee.
You might say it is impossible to make such major changes for the holidays, but it really isn’t. No one noticed that all the snow globes and snowman figurines never left their boxes this year. That is not to say they won’t make an appearance in future years, but this year was not for long hours spent decorating. There was a time when I was upset with my mother for her decision to forego the huge tree in the corner for a small tabletop tree. Now I understand. As I placed each ornament on our tree this year, I asked myself, didn’t I just do this a few weeks ago? Has another year come around again already? It seems that it has.
I admit to missing some of the baking and to fill that void I sometimes put together a few dozen toll house, peanut butter blossoms or chocolate no-bakes, but there are no more long hours mixing frosting colors, organizing cookie cutters and deciding on sprinkles or silver dragees. But those never-ending decorated cookies were the first to get crossed off my to-do list.
As children, we wish Christmas could come every day. As adults, we start to think a two-year break might not be such a bad idea. I did get a break this year; however. My husband not only prepared our entire Christmas dinner, but he also did the entire clean-up. (I still did the huge Christmas morning brunch). While he worked in the kitchen, I battled the knitting project that is likely to do me in before its completion. Perhaps I was premature in promising everyone handmade knits for Christmas next year.
I know, I know….lunch was a disaster. I rushed out of the house without packing this morning and although there were plenty of healthier choices, I opted for fast food fare. I assure you, it was purely educational. Okay, it wasn’t, but I did learn something. It has been nearly a year since I last visited Burger King and some things have changed if not for the better. Perhaps someone else might not notice, but I noticed that small is back. A few years ago, I drove up to the take-out window and asked for a “small” drink. (I think it was a drink. It might have been fries). I was promptly corrected by the grouchy person on the other side of the window who said, “We don’t have small. Only medium, large and extra large.” Now, I’m not one to nit-pick, but wouldn’t that make the medium really the small? So today, prepared to just order whatever the smallest portion entailed, I was surprised to see on the menu sizes that actually read, “small, medium, large.” I suspect it was changed because too many grouchy order-takers got tired of explaining the measurement system involved. I’m sure you are thinking that doesn’t excuse the fact that I went there in the first place, and it doesn’t. And it doesn’t excuse the fact that I could have ordered a plain, grilled chicken sandwich and a side salad instead of a breaded, fried chicken sandwich with fries. I have no defense. I did it, and there it is.
NOTE: I used a large desk calendar to keep track of my appointments throughout the month. So should I not have been frustrated to see that the manufacturer of this particular calendar put a giant logo over three important days in January? They couldn’t have put it on a removable sticker or on outside of the plastic wrapper the calendar came in? Am I the only person who complained? Probably. But it annoyed me that I had to squeeze my appointments in the margins on Jan. 6, 7 and 8. I think I’ll spend the rest of day trying not to sweat the small stuff. A co-worker just told me to tear January off my calendar and there was another January, without a logo, underneath. Who does that? I'm an idiot. Nevermind.
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Christmas dinner looked like this. There were other things on the table as well that included different types of rolls, a pickle and olive tray, more vegetable side dishes, not shown, and cake for dessert. It was a good day and an excellent holiday. I hope yours was the same.