I wrote earlier about celebrating Thanksgiving without traditional foods, and how I was okay with that. But even so, I find that Christmas is different – there are some foods I don’t want to do without.
I didn’t fully realize why, though, until recently. It’s not exactly about tradition, or how much I like the food.
It’s about the Christmas memories.
When I was a kid, Christmas was much simpler. Everyone was still alive in my family, no one was estranged, and Mom did her utmost to make it special, even when we didn’t have much money.
It’s not so simple anymore. And it’s often hard this time of year, remembering all the losses, especially Mom.
That’s been compounded this year by the death of both of her parents, my grandfather just yesterday. Each new loss brings up all the others and makes it feel new again.
But sometimes, even despite the grief, certain foods can make things better. They can bring back the childhood memories and magic, at least for a bit.
Today, for instance, I’m getting together with a couple of friends who lost their moms this year. And one of them is bringing macadamia nuts because they were a favorite of her mom’s.
For me, I’ll be bringing sugar cookies. I used to make them with Mom, and later other family members, but not it’s just me. It feels a bit lonely, sometimes, to make them by myself – but it also wouldn’t feel like Christmas without them.
And at least I’ll be able to share them with friends this year, friends who can truly appreciate what they mean to me, and can share in turn their own memories and special traditions.
I look forward to eating the cookies, and the nuts, mindfully and with full enjoyment, appreciating the present but also savoring the nostalgia of Christmases past.
May you, too, find ways to enjoy the holiday season, even if it’s sometimes bittersweet.