I can’t help but remember holidays past. I miss my mom. Holidays were always HUGE drama fests when she was alive, yet I miss her and the love of the holidays we shared. Daddy and I have been reminiscing about lifetimes of holidays. We’re still new together, so catching each other up on the decades of family holidays we missed out on. I think we’ve both heard most of the stories that stand out now. Every once in a while I’ll leave him shaking his head with a family story.
There was family drama, but what I remember ever more is food trauma. Yes, I used the word trauma on purpose! My mom wasn’t a great cook, but she did a nice job on holiday meals. All the traditional things you think of were always there and good. As my brothers got married and their wives started taking over holidays the trouble began.
My favorite SIL, “A” was a great cook. Things were organized, good food. It was lovely spending holidays at their house. She and I were really close. I miss her a great deal. After she and my brother divorced we lost touch. The gossiping we did and all the typical sisterly things. Alas, I digress. Holidays at her place were rocking!
My other brother got married just a year later. The years “D” cooked were a disaster! There were many of those years. She got better over the years, but still…. *sigh* She was disorganized and had the entire kitchen heaped with dirty dishes before she started cooking, the house was a disaster. Toys, clothes, laundry, clutter in every corner of the house. She loved to entertain and have all the family around… it was just miserable being there. The kids would be screaming from hunger and being over tired and all the adults would be barely holding it together when dinner would hit the table nearing 9pm. Heinously dry turkey, instant mashed potatoes and I don’t remember what else from those early days. Just suffice it to say…. terrible food! She got more organized over the years and bought better food, but her cooking never did get better. The whole family whispered about dreading eating her holiday meals. Suffice it to say, Mom and I had a plan for good food at home. lol
Being so much younger than my siblings it took forever for them to see me and recognize me as an adult. I was well into my 30’s when that started to happen. It’s also about the time I started taking over some of the holiday cooking. Mom was nearing 70 and her body was tired. Cooking like that was hard on her. “A” was no longer part of the family, so it was Mom and “D”. I fought for a cooking spot and won.
The first few years I went really traditional with rave reviews. The family drama was the more typical stuff. “If he’s coming then I’m not coming” followed by someone touching on a sore subject. Some years were totally smooth sailing. Food became an issue as I branched out from the boring traditional foods. Three days of cooking to have everyone complain that I made cranberry sauce from scratch and not from a can or refusing to taste the pumpkin cheesecake with maple pecan glaze I slaved over because it’s not “traditional” and what they’re used to. I joke that I have holiday cooking PTSD from the scenes surrounding my family bitching.
When I’m hosting, I give a set dinner time. It’s not suggested or an arrival time. I’m telling you what time I’m putting dinner on the table. My brother and “D” took this as a suggested arrival time a few years in a row. I swallowed my anger and held off dinner waiting for them to arrive a couple times to be crabbed at that we sat down the minute they arrived. Can you feel my anger bounding off the page? The following year they came walking in 20 minutes after my stated dinner time to find us all at the table eating. There was a scene and a half! I got called rude and disrespectful followed by the litany of excuses about having kids and all the stops they had to make. I stood my ground and gave it back in spades. That was the last time they came strolling in late.
The last family holiday I participated in wasn’t a drama fest just horrible, horrible food. The oldest of my brothers, “J” and his wife, “M” came up and cooked for the four of us. Mom raved and I struggled to find a kind word. I chose to work the holidays many years. Bringing joy and good food to my clients was a real gift. This particular year I didn’t really want to leave. It was fun at work…. and minutes before dinner time. I walked in the door at home to the smell of prime rib roasting and happy chatter. I was glad I came home. Then it all went south. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing! “J” let the rare prime rib rest to the point of being tepid. “M” shocked the green beans and served them ice cold with slivered almonds thrown on top. Spring lettuce mix dressed with Champagne vinaigrette. An expensive and beautiful meal ruined. I did the unthinkable and microwaved my food while digging up more salad greens and a better variety of salad dressing. Yes, I hurt their feelings in epic proportions, but I kind of salvaged my meal.
As we draw nearer to Thanksgiving I’ll tell you a bit about what Daddy and I have on our agenda. Hope you enjoyed my holiday tales.