Obsessing Over Holiday Traditions
Now is the time to slap on a smile and immerse yourself in drawn out holiday traditions.
Rituals are an important part of the holiday season. Why, you ask? I'm not sure. I just needed a lead in. I went to Wikipedia to read about it, but the article was kinda long and used some confusing terms like "non-contiguous," "etic" and "sports events." For the rest of this column, therefore, I'll be switching to the term 'tradition' (which was still a long read on Wikipedia, but used a lot of bullet points so I've got a better handle on it.)
As I was saying, holiday traditions are important for some reason or another. I partake in several. There's the Everyone Got Divorced And Now I Have to Drive All Over Hell and Creation Tradition, the Getting Overwhelmed By Consumerism and Having a Good Sob Tradition, the Avoiding of Relatives That Get a Kick Out of Pissing Me Off Tradition, the Don't Beat Yourself Up For Not Sending Cards Again Tradition and, my personal favorite, the Christmas Morning Dessert For Breakfast Tradition.
The lengthiest, most time-honored tradition though is my mother's annual Obsessing Over What to Cook Tradition. It starts in early October and lasts until the week before Christmas.
It entails my mother spending all her spare time scribbling out long lists of potential food items to be eaten at her Christmas Eve open house. Like a diligent mathematician trying to puzzle out Fermat's Last Theorem, she multiplies, adds and divides each edible variable over and over again. When that step is complete she must then share her calculations with me every time we speak.
She says things like this, "If a = bean dip and b = Cajun shrimp, then a + b - y = vegetarian chili, unless the sum of a and b cannot be determined, in which case pasta and sauce will be subdivided by chicken wings and multiplied by the amount of vegetarians expected to attend."
The next step in the tradition is for me to remind her of my rule about the tradition which is that she is not allowed to involve me in her computations until after Oct. 31. After this date I am obliged to engage in lengthy conversations for many weeks until all possible calculations have been explored and a final menu decided.
The best thing about this tradition is when it ends. Not just because my mother returns to normality, but also because the result is a really amazing meal, one where every last morsel has been tended to with love and care. And that, kids, might just say a little something about why traditions are important.