“The chaos all around us is what happens when the nation elects an incompetent, narcissistic, impulsive and amoral man as president. This Christmas, heaven help us all.
Much of the government is shut down over symbolic funding for an insignificant portion of a useless border wall… The financial markets are having a nervous breakdown… Defense Secretary Jim Mattis… resigned in protest… and is being shoved out the door two months early. The world’s leading military and economic power is being yanked to and fro as if by a bratty adolescent with anger management issues.”
Eugene Robinson, Columnist for The Washington Post, Dec. 24th, 2018
Christmas this year I decided to block out any negative news for one full day. I could practically hear the stock market crackling downward like the broken limb of a tree that’s been struck by lightening. Amelia Lester and Mia Freedman’s voices from the Mama Mia Podcast “Tell Me It’s Going to Be OK” tried to stream in the background of my consciousness, but I blocked them out. This Christmas I would strive to be totally present with family. Christmas Eve we hosted a few friends and neighbors over to make pizzas and catch up. Only one glass of wine teetered off the counter; it smashed on the tile floor, sending red wine and glass in all directions, but a team quickly wiped it up and headed off to play Code Names in the game room. On Christmas Day, different neighbors stopped over to say hello and spread Christmas cheer. Chicken soup bubbled in anticipation of making a traditional Italian dish, Cassadedi, in which ricotta and cinnamon-filled pastas are slid into the chicken broth for cooking. Carrots, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, and celery are removed and plated with gravy.
Just like that, the meal, the presents, and Christmas day is over. The chaos and love of my oldest daughter and her husband, juggling presents and three leashes holding dogs. Gone. The joy and assistance of my youngest daughter and her boyfriend, off to watch a movie. My husband and I sit like two old, tired, sentrymen, feet raised, watching an old Star Trek in a catatonic state with our son from Chicago, who is still munching on a candy cane. It’s a familiar scene at my house.
This morning, a raucous gang of hawks is circling the house, screaming wildly, and I feel compelled to check on the cats. I happen to read the opinion piece from the Washington Post excerpted above. My fingers are twitching to open Schwab and survey the damage. But not today. I want to sit and relish yesterday’s time with family. Laugh at the many attempts we made to take a self-timing family portrait with three dogs pouncing over us on the sofa. Smile at the last Cassadedi my daughter held back for her (late arriving) boyfriend to put in the soup so that he too would have good luck in the upcoming year. Muse at the moment my son carried the laptop into the kitchen, and just as I had taken a mighty bite of arrugula salad, I see his girlfriend smiling, waving, and saying hello from France. She is surrounded by her mother and grandmother—three generations together for the holidays!
This made me think of my extended family, up north, having their family time together. On December 23rd, everyone gathered at my mother’s Henry House. I felt jealous that we could not join the caucus. My mother has six surviving children. In addition, the family boasts 25 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren at present. That’s a houseful! We five Texans don’t usually make it back for Christmas, and occasionally another family will be missing, but mostly everyone moseys over. I can just hear the little ones taking delight in ramrodding about the many levels of her 1800’s farm house; this usually results in a bit of harumphing by some, but to me, that’s all part of the fun and memory making at this time of year. In spite of whatever Washington has going on right now, I’m convinced that nothing can stand in the way of families gathered at holiday time.