While I’ve been scurrying around the Inter-web collecting precious bits of data for my research, something large and ominous has crept up behind me; now it lurks, ready to pounce and wreak its own special kind of havoc. Yes, the Winter Holiday Season is upon us.
I don’t mind Thanksgiving at all, since I get to cook lots of food and have people over to enjoy it. Christmas is a bit trickier, weighed down with commercialization and booby-trapped with expectations. I guess it’s no surprise, considering that 70% of this nation’s economy depends on consumer spending and nearly 40% of that reportedly happens during this holiday season. (I myself couldn’t find corroborating data for that last one, so we’ll leave it as an allegation.) Which brings to mind another topic, but I’ll save that rant for later. Hint: we are “consumers.” Think about that.
Right…Thanksgiving…food, friends, recipes, cooking…all good things. Something occurred to me last night while My Dear Wife and I were out doing some shopping, an idea about holiday traditions and favorite recipes. How many of these favorites come about by accident? Suppose you’re trucking along, minding your own business, when suddenly The Holiday Approaches! You’ve Got to Do Something! Quick! So you throw some random bits together, and lo-and-behold it works! Hooray! “Wow! You can really cook!” they say, and indeed you can create something tasty within your realm of skills and supplies. The following year, that pesky old holiday sneaks up on you again, but you’re ready! “I’ll make that thing I made last year!” you boldly pronounce, since it’s about all you can do. It works, it’s good, and a tradition is born. The holiday wouldn’t be the same without your Atomic Cranberry Sauce or Acorn Squash Souffle or whatever it was that you pulled out of your hat that first year.
Oddly enough, My Dear Wife disagrees. She theorizes a millennium-spanning legacy of Martha Stewart-types, who sit around months ahead of time, spinning their webs of style and hospitality, waiting to make the rest of us feel just a little inadequate when the appointed time arrives. Generation after generation, they have handed down their esoteric knowledge like so many domestic Freemasons: how to stockpile and deploy greeting cards by the thousand; when to begin holiday shopping so you’ve finished it before anyone else has even started; strategic cookie-recipe management; and so on. I will readily admit that these people exist, and I think everybody either knows one or is one. Still, I think that there’s room for my “accidental masterpiece” theory too. Which reminds me: I need to remember what I made last Thanksgiving, because I’m cooking again.