Here in Georgia, the holidays are in full swing. Since I had the flu during Thanksgiving, I didn't get the chance to go see Penguins of Madagascar with the family. I'm hoping I'll be able to make up for that soon. The new Pixar trailer for Inside Out is adorable! Have you seen it yet?
What do you plan on seeing this holiday season?
I am especially excited for the holidays because I'm out of school until January. Writing, freelancing, and being a college student once again has been quite a challenge. It's nice to have a break where I can reflect on all of the things I'm thankful for and share the true meaning of Christmas with my family. Not that I always enjoyed family fun when I was younger...
In lieu of her non-traditional childhood, my mother tortured us every Christmas in the most inhumane way possible: She made us go caroling. A week before the grand event, the oven would be turned on and run for three straight days. We made cookies until we couldn’t stand the sight of them: sugar cookies, snicker doodles, chocolate chip, peanut butter with the criss-crosses, lemon bars, and those little powdered-sugared nuggets with crushed almonds. Heavenly, unless you had to bake them all and scrub the mixing bowls after each round.
Do you actually know anyone who goes caroling during the holidays? I don’t mean to imply socializing with a church group or a service activity with the Junior Beta Club. I mean door-to-door knocking and bellowing to complete strangers who stand uncomfortably while you hold out a plate of treats as a bribe. You can almost see the thoughts pass through their minds: Should I invite them in? Do I have enough hot chocolate? Hey! Isn’t that the kid that egged my car on Halloween?
When I was a child, I found the whole scenario to be a grand adventure. In my innocence, I sang unabashedly, handed over the treats with reverence, and was certain I’d turned someone’s miserable holiday into a shining memory. Then puberty hit. Along with my five brothers and sisters, the yearly caroling tradition with my mother became primeval torture. We grumbled from the kitchen to our victims' driveways, we sang at a whisper, shuffled our feet, and stared heavenward so we didn’t have to see the patronizing smiles over the threshold. None of it mattered though, because my mother sang loud enough for all of us. You couldn’t suck the Noel out of her no matter how hard you tried.
These days, since I have passed through childhood, slogged through puberty, and managed to grapple with the joys of mid-life, I remember caroling as some of the best times we shared as a family. The joy it brought me as a child makes me smile. The humiliation of my teenage years makes me laugh. Tradition, I’ve finally learned, is everything.
So each year as the holidays roll around, the oven in my house runs for days. There are sugar cookies, cookie bars, brownies, and gingerbread. My own children help decorate and lick the bowls and disappear when it's clean up time. It isn’t exactly a replica of my childhood memories, but it's close.
Now I confess, those years of caroling did scar me despite their poignant effects. I do not drag my children door to door and sing at the top of my lungs. Instead, we drop off the treats, ring the doorbell and take off running. I call it our “Secret Santa” tradition. My kids thought it was the best adventure ever when they were young. For now, because of age and hormones, they just think it’s embarrassing.
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Stay warm, stay balanced, and thank you for supporting clean romance authors everywhere!