I live a very conflicted existence with Christmas.
You see, I was raised in a Jewish family, the type of family where I was taught very, very, very firmly that I was NOT Christian. Not that there was anything bad about being Christian, of any sort of Christian denomination, but just that it wasn't what we were. We didn't celebrate Christmas. We didn't have a Christmas tree. We were Jews and we did Hanukkah and we had eight days of presents, which was better than Santa. (Yes, I was one of those horrible children that spoiled the myth of Santa for others--what can I say, I'm evil. =)
Sometimes we got invited over to celebrate Christmas with family friends, but most years, we had what is affectionately known as "a Jewish Christmas". We would get Chinese food, since Chinese restaurants are some of the few that are open on Christmas Day, and we would go to the movies. It was great. =) I was happy and content with my life the way it was.
Not that we didn't do some things ever year during our winter break, but those revolved more around the secular nature of what everyone else was doing. We'd drive around and look at the Christmas lights because they were pretty. We'd try to go into NYC every year, to look at all the department store windows on Fifth Avenue, to see the tree in Rockefeller Center, and most important of all, to visit FAO Schwartz. Mind you, the trips were always combined with visiting a museum, and I looked forward to the museum parts just as much as the rest of it.
But then I grew up.
And I married a man who was raised as an atheist who celebrates Christmas and Easter with his family, purely as secular holidays, at least in his immediate family.
And Christmas became a battleground. I dated my husband for almost six years before we were married, and I was not invited to Christmas except for the last two years of our relationship. My mother-in-law, for reasons of her own, wanted to keep the holiday family-only, and I didn't count as family. So naturally, because I am a contrary person, I very much wanted to celebrate Christmas with my husband's family. Go figure. =)
Let's fasf-forward to the present day, when all our conflicts have been mostly resolved and I *am* accepted as family, because I am married now. And I do get to go to Christmas. And we will celebrate by first eating an enormous lunch at one set of relatives' house, and then going back to my in-laws' house, digesting, and then eating an enormous dinner cooked by my mother-in-law. I have no idea why they do the double meals, but they do. I roll out the door by the end of the celebration.
And there are always the cookies, something my mother-in-law excels at. Even when I wasn't invited to Christmas, my family and I always got a plate of Christmas cookies from her, which we looked forward to every year.
But this year, there are no cookies.
For understandable reasons, as my mother-in-law has just lost her father, and is not exactly in the mood to bake.
But when I found out last night, that she really hadn't baked any, that there weren't any sitting in the freezer from right after Thanksgiving, when she usually starts baking... well let's say I wasn't happy. Not because I need cookies; trust me, I'm not that insensitive of a lout. But because somehow, over the last six years, Christmas has come to mean my mother-in-law's cookies. And I will miss them terribly this year.
So this afternoon, I am going to bake the cookies, and bring them to Christmas.
It won't be her recipes and it won't be any large variety...
But there will be cookies for Christmas.
(And this seems to have turned into a somewhat depressing post, but it really wasn't meant to be. Merry Christmas everyone!)