Thursday, November 3, 2011

A tough pick

We've made a tough decision. A really hard choice.

For 25 years, we've hosted a Christmas dinner for faculty and NU friends. The first time I cooked a turkey for the group, I was in my late twenties, mom of three kids (now four, the youngest is 22), and brimming with energy. We loved having wise, funny, godly, and yes, oh so smart! friends share an evening, sing carols and read the Bible story of Jesus' birth, and bring special dishes that evolved into annual traditions.

It was fun to move all the furniture out of the living and dining rooms to set two or three round tables. After Thanksgiving every year, we bought an enormous tree that almost touched the 17' ceiling, decking it with sparkle and lights from base to tip.

Decorating? My hands fell on whatever was nearby or whatever caught my eye. One year, goldfish swam in glass bowls on candle pillars, surrounded by red roses. Another year, I twined white garlands around coat hangers to make "feather" trees. Once, I took the hangers out of ornaments, filled them with flowers, and stapled together a paper flap to hold the globes upright. W and I would do all the dishes after guests left and fall into bed exhausted but happy. The next morning, all we'd have to do is read the guestbook and smile at the wonderful memory of the night before.

A few friends transitioned to heaven over the years, but some of the favorite recipes made it into the file and have been made every year by other willing hands. A typical menu was based around:

homemade rolls and preserves
potato casserole
green bean casserole
orange veg
yellow veg
jellied salad
tossed green salad
green pea salad (Ernestine Rice's legacy)
meat and bread stuffing
turkey and gravy
and more get the picture - a lavish table groaned under a meal lovingly prepared by many hands.

The tough decision? In light of my "impossible" dissertation schedule, Kirsten's visit for surgery and post-op care, and W's writing and teaching, we're not hosting the Christmas event at our house this year.

Will we miss it? Yes. Do we regret the cancellation? If we have time to think about it, we may. There are seasons in life where clenching the past holds us from the future. Times when we have to say, "NO! Sadly, no," to things we have enjoyed.

What are you saying good-bye to as the holidays approach?

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