I’ve never been particularly good at going with the flow, or approaching life without a plan. At this point in time, I’m fairly convinced it’s just not in my nature, and after years of analyzing this part of myself, I’m ok with it. But like everything in life, I’m a work in progress, constantly evolving, growing and adjusting to life’s lessons.
For the past month, I’ve felt frustrated about the weather. Yes, the weather. It’s this time of year that Arizonans typically get our only taste of a chill, with temps dropping to the 30s at night but warming up to the 60s by afternoon. Well, call it
global warming what you want to, but this year’s been unseasonably warm. I’ve heard that phrase so frequently from weather reporters – unseasonably warm – that I think it’s become the mantra of the season. Needless to say, it’s hard to get into the holiday spirit when it’s 82 and you’re wearing a tank top. There are no chestnuts roasting on an open fire, no sleigh rides and nary a frosty snowman.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to spend time over the past two weeks in Denver and Chicago, where I received a whopping dose of the cold. Initially, I rejoiced! Imagine me, the desert dweller, just oozing delight at the opportunity to wear a scarf and boots. I LOVED it. I did. But after a few days, it got, well…cold. The final straw was getting lost on my run in a Chicago suburb yesterday, during which my panic level soared to Donner Party heights, wondering if one’s nose can actually freeze and fall off.
And I was only dealing with this for a week, not the typical four or five months people endure in other parts of the country.
I started to realize that maybe I like the ideas of cold weather and wintery holidays more than I actually was enjoying them.
And that made me wonder why I had such a fixation on how things should be during this time of year. This prompted much soul searching. And here’s my profound conclusion:
I think that during the holidays, we’re all programmed to try a little harder than usual to achieve the joy and togetherness and perfect gatherings we’re told we should be having. We want things to look and feel and taste and BE perfect. We grow up with magical holiday experiences, but as we get older and have to deal with the logistics of the season (shopping in crowded malls, rushing to address dozens of cards, waiting in crazy lines at the grocery store, spending time with our perfectly imperfect families…) things feel a lot less magical and a lot more mechanical.
But that feeling – that longing for the magic – it doesn’t fade. So, what to do?
Well, I found my solution by accident tonight, in the form of dairy products.
I flew back home this afternoon and after being gone for several days, all I wanted to do was to nest. For me, that means cooking, cleaning, dog walking, etc. I spent several hours earning my housewife badge and decided it was time to make a lasagna.
I went out, list in hand, to purchase everything I needed. I got home and the preparations began. It wasn’t until the last step before assembly that I realized I had not purchased cottage cheese. No, I had come home with PINEAPPLE cottage cheese.
The funny thing is, my initial reaction was really just shock. I had no idea that such a disgusting concoction even existed, let alone could be purchased without a special license in your average super market.
I wasn’t sure what to do, and had zero desire to go back to the store, at rush hour, during the holidays (cue violin…). So I figured screw it, I’ll pick out the chunks of tropical fruit, add seasoning and just go with it. I did just that, and it was actually delicious. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think the pineapple added a really nice sweet taste, that I doubt anyone (who hasn’t read this) could ever identify.
I realized that this strange little experience was the way I should be approaching everything, particularly the holidays. I may not have the perfect ingredients for a Hallmark Chrismukkah, but you know what, I have ingredients that work, and that’s all that matters. I’m over trying to force feelings and decor that aren’t meant to be, and if it’s 85 degrees on Christmas, so be it. The important thing is recognizing that there’s no one right way to do things, and all we should really strive for is doing things the way that makes us happy, with those we love.