“Ah! there is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.
Nobody can be more devoted to home than I am.”
– Jane Austen
The first week of November is over. The clocks have changed and darkness comes earlier now. It’s that time of year where comfort food, hot lattes, and a crazy schedule consumes me. While the world expects me to be more social, really I just want to hibernate. These are the months that I want to curl up near the wood stove and write and read and sip seasonal tea and write and read and… well you get it.
It’s also THE HOLIDAYS — no longer divided by Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now it’s all one. It’s parties and family and friends and gifts and decorating and eating and preparing and rushing and…and… my anxiety is in overdrive.
Do I host the holiday dinners? Who do I invite? How many people can we fit in the house? Do I bake pies or order them? Make my own turkey or cater? Why isn’t anybody on time? The food is ready and n0 one is here! Did we really get into a political debate? When the hell are these people leaving? I want to put on my yoga pants grab a bottle of bourbon and hit the bed!
Ahhhh. The holidays.
This year, I came up with what I hope is the perfect solution*. I’m not hosting ANY of the holiday gatherings. I’m also not accepting any invites. This year, Thanksgiving is going to be a casual meal. Maybe a late lunch and an evening of leftovers and grazing.
*Technically I wanted to rent a cabin in the middle of nowhere and spend a week, but that is logistically harder to do than you’d think, and it stressed me out. A lot.
Christmas Eve has always been a night of tradition in my house. Growing up, it was either hosted by my parents or their friends. Lots of people. Lots of food. Going home stuffed with food and excited to host/attend the dinner all over again the next day. As a child, it was truly the most exciting time of year (not to mention people kept giving me stuff!).
As an adult it’s meant a mixture of cooking and catering having family or friends or both. A week of baking the specialties I wait all year to make like sticky toffee pudding and Irish chocolate fudge cake and 800 dozen cookies. Mostly, it’s me (and my husband) in the kitchen preparing the many courses of our dinner (and cooking too much). In the past few years, we’ve made it an informal buffet rather than a formal dinner. But still, I rarely get to sit and enjoy the time with my friends or my family. And there’s nothing quite so awful as waking up on Christmas morning with a stack of dirty dishes on the counters.
This year — that ain’t gonna happen! I’m making reservations at an upscale restaurant that I’ve wanted my husband to take me to for years. My friends have an open invitation to join us. Memories and craic can still happen. We can still meet up, eat good food and be together.
Afterwards, we’re going home and putting on our matching Christmas pj’s and playing board games around the tree and watching movies. Just the three of us — and Finn (our dog). And we’re going to eat cookies, and cake, and whatever – from the couch or the floor or wherever the hell we end up.
Christmas day, we will open gifts and have a brunch. Then we will stay in our pajamas all day and eat and play, and nap,and read and snuggle (we are really good snugglers).
It’s not that we don’t love our friends and family, but the three of us (plus Finn) never really get to just stay home and do nothing. There’s always something — soccer, gymnastics, yardwork, snow to shovel, groceries to buy, cars to service, blah blah blah. We never get to just be...still. We always say we will do it, but then we get invited and think — ahhhh we should go! But this year I am consciously going to refuse all invitations. Not because we don’t appreciate it, but because we just need some family time. In our pj’s. While stuffing our faces.
And this year, I am actually really looking forward to the holidays.