Growing up, the holidays held a little more weight than they do as an adult.
By the time you’re in your 20s, it’s something you’ve been trying to get out of for a while. By your 40s, it runs the risk of just being something you keep up for the kids. Beyond that, your mileage may vary.
No matter what’s going on in the world, good or bad, the holidays have always acted as an intangible placebo – we know it’s just another day, but somehow it still makes us feel better.
When I was growing up, the two-day event was a stereotypically chaotic gathering of far too many people and an exuberant amount of menu selections. The table sat fifteen or twenty adults; laughing, shouting, pointing, reminiscing. The lights seemed to make the adult table glow to us kids banished to the living room. All the energy of the house, of the moment, was focused around the table.
My grandmother would be forever planted in front of the sink, endlessly preparing more courses until dessert. My grandfather, in his white undershirt and burgundy suspenders, would bring the huge platters of food to the table. Calling us his “cucarachas,” we’d swarm around the kitchen, staying true to our pet names.
Despite the materialistic nature of the holiday, my parents and my aunt and uncle would buy the exact same gift for my cousins and me, a tradition that was only broken once we all moved away. One year it was a doctor’s kit. Another year the first incarnation of electronic diaries. Even on Christmas, equality was something my family made sure to stress. No one was made to feel left out, forgotten or any less important than anyone else – even if we were not yet old enough to be seated at the gleaming table.
This time of year is especially hard for everyone. Jobs are hard to come by, everyone seems to be sick, and political correctness has all but slain the big red man. This year, there is no gleaming table. However, all of us have retained the energy that used to charge that table, despite a great deal of hardship.
I won’t tell you happy holidays, because that is far too general and doesn’t hold the same weight as it did during the time I’m reflecting on.
This year, no matter what’s going on in your life, no matter what religion you are – forget the tree. Forget the gifts. Bring your family ’round and light up that table.