“The most important thing is to keep the most important thing the most important thing.”
Zita Cobb’s former boss
My Mum had a passion for cooking and our family Christmas dinners were something to behold. For many years after we switched the festivities to my house she still liked to cook up a storm. Mum and Dad would pretty much bring the whole Christmas dinner over in pyrex casserole dishes wrapped in towels. They would pull up in their little hatchback and we would start a relay run from their car to our kitchen. Inevitably the time came when it was too much for my Mum so my sister, husband and I planned to take on the whole shebang (with her blessing). Oh we had big ideas. We were like 3 Martha Stewarts; ambitious recipes, fancy ingredients, special kitchen gadgetry; we were pulling out all the stops.
On the morning of our inaugural dinner the Marthas popped a turkey in the oven and went on to have a grand day visiting with a few close friends and relatives that dropped by. We were all entertained by the kids opening gifts and running around fuelled by chocolate. It was good times until the moment they left and the three of us looked at each other and realized we had a whole lot more cooking to do. What were we thinking? As much as we like to make nice food, a big multi course extravaganza was not our passion or forte by a long shot, not to mention we were already tuckered out from the day’s activity. It was like we had snapped out of a spell. How bad would it be to just have turkey and a salad? We willed ourselves into motion, scrapped our fancy pants notions and pulled a few dishes together. Good thing my folks have a sense of humour.
After that fiasco I realized how much I don’t want to orchestrate pots and pans on Christmas day. What my Mum could do with grace and joy is stress and aggravation for me. I realized the most important thing for me is giving my undivided attention to the family and friends I’m sharing the day with so I can enjoy every minute with them. I embrace getting carried away with a bit of foolishness and don’t want to be reigned in by a kitchen timer calling me. And so in the spirit of keeping the most important thing the most important thing, we adopted a new dinner tradition: Christmas lasagnas. Yup, I make them ahead of time and freeze them. There’s love in every layer and I think the spirit of my Mum’s feast is there it’s just all in one course.
Even though our Christmas dinners have changed over time, the real family tradition and the most important thing all along was simply spending time together. I believe the magic of the season comes alive when we know and honour what’s important to us. Sometimes that means steering clear of a seductive rabbit hole in pursuit of a hollow Christmas fantasy world of someone else’s design. Ultimately, I think we have be true to our own joy to give joy.
On that note, I wish you all a Joyous Holiday Season and may you find a way to keep the most important thing the most important thing always!