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No matter where my mind is during the day, holiday gifts shopping or
meeting with a client, at the end of each day all my thoughts somehow
get squeezed into only one funnel – my kids. This is for twenty five
years and two hundred and ten days, since the first one was born.
Now, when they are not living at home I still feel like I am a nest
keeper rather than an empty-nester. It is just a different kind of nest.
This Holiday season is my first one when kids are coming home as
guests. It feels weird. What should I cook? What should I do to make it
There were thousands of meals cooked through the years, from the
time when they were toothless, helpless noisy rug rats to gourmet
toothy stakes for graduations. But my favorite are those in the kitchen
with orange juice stains over the homework and beans glued to school
projects. The key to their souls was always getting involved and in
touch with their dreams and challenges and share my own. Now, when
they are grown up I still think that there is no better place in the world
than your own kitchen table.
The same is with holiday cooking. Getting your family involved in the
holiday’s cooking can be quite therapeutic. For example, chopping
something like carrots together for Thanksgiving meal is scientifically
proven (I am lying) to help frustration about that new mean boss. Who
knows, maybe by the time all the vegetables are chopped for the
stuffing your daughter will feel less stressed about facing the bitchy
boss Monday morning. At the same time, talking about her latest love
fling is much more fun while making chocolate cookies.
Then, when everyone gathers around the table it does not matter that
much if you have amazing table decorations from Pottery Barn (even
though it can also be lovely). What matters is the intensity of familiar
smells, sounds and voices multiplied by bits and pieces of interrupted
stories, some new, others so predictable that after you hear two words
you know the end with unmistakable certainty. You put up the music
in the background and then everyone starts talking at the same time
and it looks like nobody listens to each other but at the same time
everyone listens to all. There is something quite irreplaceable about
bitter-sweet holiday chaos that only families share.
I do not like to force questions like, “So, tell me, Tommy, what are you
thankful for?” I believe that Tommy will tell you one way or another if
the time is right. I think it is a good idea for a hostess – the nest keeper
to be really chatty and gently take charge. For example, if you want
your guests to share their thoughts about the past year and what they
were grateful for, you can start talking about someone else’s story that
you read in the paper or watched on the news and then switch it to
yourself. Perhaps, other people will follow and open up more.
For more fun you can get your guests involved a week before they
come. For example, you can call a younger mom of the family and
have her suggest different games to play with younger kids. Be
real, most likely she will not show up dressed as a clown and provide
professional level entertainment for two hours. However, she might
support you spark up a game or two at the party if she knows what
you are up to. At least, she will know in advance instead of being put
on the spot. By the way, the grown up children under the age of eighty
five are usually enjoying kids’ games just as much.
Yes, we all sometimes get carried away with pretty things, such as
holiday gifts, decorations, impossible recopies from famous chefs and
all the glitter. But it is always something invisible that is on the seventh
sense level that makes us happy, and that is the thing called LOVE that
comes from family and friends.
So, this Thanksgiving I decided to try to be just my old self and not
really do anything other than what I would usually do when my kids
were living at home. I will just enjoy them, accept them and all the
changes that come with age and growing up.
Enjoy your holidays, love yourself and others and make this holiday
really special. Of course, you know by now that your thoughts are
super important to me so share them here. I would love that.