A Clichéd LIfe

Tick Tock time for Christmas!

For some.

Not us.

I do have a Christmas Eve dinner to prepare.  My first.  Thanksgiving has been my purview, my get out of jail free card for all-things Christmas.  I was a guest, unfettered by the responsibilities of doing anything but showing up on time with a smile on my face and an empty belly ready to be filled.

My mother, long passed some 24 years now, always had Christmas Eve dinner and all of the other festive dinners until (1)  I co-opted T-G to allow both she and my MIL to enjoy being a guest at the table rather than slaving away to fill the table and (2) she died.  My father re-married, and my wonderful stepmom has a strong, German, Christmas Eve tradition of cooking a wonderful dinner.  With knee-surgery just a few weeks ago, this was not a possibility for her this year.

Rather than forgo Christmas Eve dinner for myself and deprive my beloved stepmom of this important meal, I gladly raised my hand.  I had thought for a moment that I would offer to cook at her home (the home that I grew up in); but that thought was fleeting.  So there will be ten of us on Christmas Eve. Sans, my M/FIL who feel that they are at a point in their lives where attending such events is more than they can handle.  These are choices to be respected, and choices that will be ours in the years ahead should we live so long.

I'm in unfamiliar territory here, not tethered by any traditional dishes that I would typically make.  With my proclivities for imagining all of the possibilities, it is harder for me to narrow down the choices than cooked the damn meal. 

At tick-tock, t-minus 3 days, its time to shop for food and not stroll through recipes. 

Spinach stuffed tenderloin.  Pear, walnut salad with bleu cheese and some sort of raspberry vinaigrette or maybe that lovely pan seared scallops with pear vinaigrette?...geez.  Scalloped potatoes--the wonderful kind sliced paper thin, simmered in cream infused with garlic and rosemary and then placed in a casserole dish.

Dessert must be chocolate.  I think the maple pecan chocolate tart.  Slightly warm with ice cream or maybe a 4 layer chocolate cake with milk chocolate, frosting.  I'm still considering possibilities.  I rely on my 'gut' to tell me when I finally have it right. 


None.  Well, there was an indulgence:  What better Christmas gift than to have Mexican lunch and then go to Marshall's and shop for a 3rd grader who needed socks and underwear and maybe some Leggos.  Yet another indulgence....give a shelter pet the gift of food, toys, medicine.  I try to help others all year long.  Life is burdensome for many. If I can carry help ease the weight of life from the shoulder's of another who is struggling, that is my gift to me.

I'm working on doing good work without the satisfaction sidecar.  I understand that receiving satisfaction for doing good works isn't selfless. Writing about it worse, as I've done here.  But writing about it gives me no satisfaction.  I don't care that you know what I've done; I care that you think about how you might do. I'm at the point in my life that to ask for any gifts is an abomination.  How can I ask for something when basic things go wanting for so many?

My daughter (teacher, tough socio-economic student profile) says her kids get crazy  toward the end of the month.  That is when the money runs out and food gets scarce in the households for the children that she serves.  What a stupid luxury I have to worry about my menu.  For those that feel that they need to offer their social commentary, I say resoundingly, "Stuff it!".  A child's belly or general safety should never be the consequence of the familial choices. How easy it is to wash our collective hands of these fates on account of the thing that sets us apart from most other life forms:  our uncanny ability to rationalize our response to any situation in a way that confirms the righteousness of our reasoning.

Too often we understand the words, but mistake the true meaning.  Deeds, not words/thoughts, define us. What we 'believe' matters not a wit. What we 'do' is everything--"Actions speak louder than words" are five words that should define our daily assessment of the efficaciousness of our daily choices.  It's far easier to write and talk about what we 'should' do; harder still to 'practice what we preach'.  If we were to live a life of  clichés, these two would be two worth adopting. I strive to live a life centered on these two clichés.

But I cook and have people at my table to forge the bonds of our family that will help our facing the challenges that we will face.  Elderly parents who are facing health struggles.  Young people, finding their way in this world.  The hearth and table are primal.  Shelter, warmth and food.  That's the three legged stool of our survival in the winter. The cook, the original necromancer making nourishment from whatever was available, providing the lubrication of life:  food.

If we are to understand anything from this holiday is that the three legged stool is made more stable with hope.  Each of us can embody the hope that another prays for.  That is the example of Jesus.

And while Christmas is a religious holiday for many.  It is not for me.  It is, though a reminder, of the example of Christ.  I don't need to believe this or that about Jesus.  Whether he was the son of God or not matters not a whit to me.  That he provides for me an example of how I might live my life everyday is power enough.  For any who think that I should 'believe' a certain way I reserve my very best Bill-the-cat retort.  (You may choose Aack! or PFFFFFT!). 

I choose to live the clichéd life with Bill the Cat who unabashedly reminds us that the weight of societal judgment gets in the way of good works.  


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