Last night I went to a merchandise party at a friend’s house. It was good to get out of my rehab clothes, put on a pair of skinny-ish jeans and visit with my friends. While I was only able to have about an ounce of wine, it was my first glass since before the surgery, and I enjoyed that as well. I finished up the evening with Pellegrino and lime — yes, I was a very good girl! My friend had a lot of funny cocktail napkins, but I just had to take a photo of this one, with proof of my non-drinking in the photo, of course.
Thinking about this napkin made me realize that for the first time in many years, I am going to have what I’ve always dreamed of — a house full of family and friends around my table for Christmas.
And we may need alcohol to get through it all.
When my daughter asked me if we could have British Christmas this year, it was shortly before my surgery and I agreed happily to host the party. British Christmas is a tradition that we have celebrated several years with friends who are originally from England, and some of the group currently live in England. When they come over for the holidays, they bring puddings and sauces and traditional English Christmas specialties. Being the Anglophile that I am, I have reveled in this opportunity to do Christmas English-style. We watch the Queen’s Christmas message on BBC and we open the crackers and wear silly paper crowns for the meal. It’s just heavenly for the little girl who grew up reading every book about English royalty that I could find in the library. My caveat for doing the hosting this year was that the “kids” would have to chip in and do a lot of the work as both my English friend and I (the moms) will be post orthopedic rehab and not at our full hostessing potential.
Do I have it in me to let go and let someone else do Christmas in my house?
It turns out that my daughter’s British boyfriend is quite the chef – I already knew he was a foodie — and has opinions as to what should be served at this meal. And from there comes the rub. There’s the two young men from England who want to cook, and there’s the friend who will choose the wine. There’s the list of side dishes that are traditionally English and not what my family traditions dictate. I already ordered nuts and bridge mix from the church fundraiser, cheesecakes from the marching band fundraiser and there’s the annual gift of a bûche de Noël from another special friend. What is there for me to do?
And that’s the silliest question ever, isn’t it?
My grown-up children are taking charge of the meal and putting most of it on the table. For once, I can be the sage on the side and sit with my knee propped up as needed. They can provide me with a list and we’ll do the shopping. I can plan a drop-dead tablescape and they can put it on the table for me. It’s every mother’s dream to see her children grow up and become adults who can do holidays themselves.
My son and his new bride will arrive the day AFTER Christmas, and of course, we will do it all again with a small open house to welcome them back to Chicago. I will need help with that as well. Another fun meal, and another chance to create a new tablescape. I can’t wait.
But I’m still a little wistful. I remember when my mom stopped having Thanksmas (our family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one holiday), and we started having the party at my brother’s house. My mom seemed very old and fragile, but I doubt that she was even as old as I am now. I feel as though I’ve never had the chance to celebrate Christmas in my house as we have often traveled out west or to Ohio to have Christmas with family. My table here in Chicago has seen very few Christmas feasts — metaphorically, of course, as my table is brand new.
I’m finally having Christmas at our house but I won’t be in control.
That’s even sillier than the last statement. Control is an illusion. Is one ever “in control” of anything?
So here’s my plan for the next four weeks. I’m going to decorate the heck out of this house, with the help of Music Man who seems to be eager to participate this year. I’m going to do a little redecorating and freshening up in the guest rooms — sleeping in one’s guest room post-surgery is a good way to find out the the ceiling fan hums way too loudly. Sorry about that, all the friends and family who’ve slept there before. I’m going to make lists and lists and lists, and encourage people to choose jobs from those lists.
I’m going to step back and let them do it. I promise, here in front of the world and everyone, that I WILL NOT let Christmas cook my goose this year.
I can do it. With grace and patience. Because I love them.