by Janis Patterson
This Sunday is Christmas. It’s a wonderful day – a day for thankfulness, a day for prayer, a day for family, a day for reflection, a day for gifts, a day for… Well, there are as many ways to spend Christmas as there are people.
I remember enormous family Christmases at my grandparents’ when I was a child, with great-aunts and uncles and cousins and lots of people whom I really didn’t quite know how were connected but they were kin, and that was all that counted. My mother and her sisters would each bring enormous amounts of food and we would feast continually all day long. No dishes were ever assigned or discussed, but somehow we always ended up with a fair balance of meats and vegetables and salads and desserts. My grandmother was not allowed to cook – not because her children wanted to spare her, or because they wanted to show off their own culinary expertise – it was because while she was a lovely woman she was a rotten cook! About all you could say was that she never poisoned anyone.
I take part of that back. She made the best divinity candy in the entire world, and she made it every year. She couldn’t do a roast and her mashed potatoes were … interesting, but her divinity, which I’ve heard is one of the hardest candies to make well, was simply and literally divine. Even now, many decades later, her divinity is to me the real taste of Christmas.
After the feasting and the exchange of gifts around the tree and the shadows were growing long across the ground it was time to go home. The sisters would divide up the food – and I swear each year everyone took home more than they brought, though to a logical mind that seems impossible – and at my house we would eat Christmas leftovers for at least two or three days.
Through the haze of memory those Christmases were perfect, though I do have clear memories of someone always a-feudin’ and a-fightin’ with someone else and painful memories of one of my younger cousin’s repeated attempts to significantly damage all us other cousins, but this is too magical a time to remember old hurts, be they mental or physical.
I know this is a mystery blog, but crave your indulgence just this once. Sunday is Christmas, and too wonderful a time to talk about murder and mayhem, no matter how many books are set around the holiday. This is a time to enjoy friends and family and faith and tradition and bask in the glow of the season.
Merry Christmas, everyone!