Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The trifecta of family holidays in our home. For over 25 years, these are the days where I roll up my sleeves and dive headfirst into the kitchen where I simmer, roast, steam, and bake with gusto, just like my father used to do when I was growing up. Those were the only days we really got to see him participate in everyday tasks like cooking; usually he was away on business. But on those days, he ruled the kitchen. I liked watching him methodically work from his time tested recipes; it never occurred to me to wonder what family recipes my mom contributed, mostly because I don’t think she had anything to contribute. Holiday meals just always seemed to be engineered by my father. I thought everybody’s dad made holiday dinners, and it was a surprise when I found out they didn’t.
When I got older and started thinking about our own family holidays, my father shared his finely honed recipes and I embraced the same sort of engineered focus on our own holiday meals. I liked making the 26 pound turkeys and the accompanying serving sides and survived the eternal fight between kids on the matter of dinner rolls versus crescent rolls (we had both). Holidays meant pies, and kids would hang around to get scraps of dough after the pie crusts were rolled out. There was always more than enough food at these meals, and we were happy to share with our friends, or officers who were on duty and couldn’t be away with their families, and even international students who were destined to spend breaks alone on campus. As kids got older, I tried to break out of the standard mold and make more inspired offerings, but the family was resistant to change even then, demanding we stick to traditional foods on their respective holidays (fyi, asparagus is an Easter dinner side, not a Christmas dinner side. Duh.)
Even in the face of stubborn resistance, however, things do change. Kids really do grow up and leave, and now TheCop and I are learning how to share them with the other focuses in their lives. TheCoed came to visit a week ago because she was scheduled to work back to back shifts this holiday weekend. TheCoach (formerly HavenDude) brought his fiancée and Cooper the Super
Pooper Dog (TM) up for a couple days, and it meant that we got to celebrate his birthday and have some great family time together before they returned home to celebrate Easter with her family. Even DangerBoy was gone, spending the rest of the weekend with his girlfriend’s family. Sitting on my deck with a much relieved LoveJunkie — who, by the way, doesn’t give one whit about sharing anything with anyone — I found the house strangely silent again. I was thinking how different it was not having the kids around to share the holidays. And then TheCop showed up from a grocery run with a bouquet of flowers and egg dye. He knows I never really get to color Easter eggs because I let the kids do it. But I really like coloring eggs, much like I really like doing art. So Saturday night we spent drinking wine, watching a movie, and playing with $2 of egg art. I was a happy girl, and it was TheCop who made that happen.
On Easter, TheCop made dinner while I made deviled eggs. It was most definitely not a 15 lb. ham with a dozen side dishes and two types of pie; it wasn’t even close to anything I typically make. It was a small meal, a thoughtful repast and perfect for the two of us to share. It was also another opportunity to recognize yet again that this is my husband’s love language. With less hustle and bustle in our world, I see more and more of his love in the quiet moments. Like the bouquet of flowers whose buds continue to open and bloom after the initial gifting, I realize my life is becoming more focused on a smaller scale; still sweetly complex with shared moments of tenderness that could be so easy to miss.
I think Brian Tracy sums up the beauty of sharing perfectly. “Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.”
Sharing my life never looked this good.