This time of year can be the brightest of times, or the darkest of times, depending mostly on the people in our lives, and how we choose to see things.
For those lucky enough to be surrounded by family and friends, Christmas and Hanukkah can be filled with love and laughter, fun and food. Yes, it’s a hassle going shopping at the mall, or trying to find the best roast or turkey at the supermarket. A good parking spot can be difficult to find, and sometimes one has to deal with others whose patience has deserted them. When we’re running low on that commodity ourselves, it doesn’t take much for us to lose it.
But generally, with all the rushing around and money spent, nerves frayed and the air around us sometimes turning blue, in the end we decide it’s all been worth it.
When we’re in the midst of the celebrations, surrounded by the warmth of loved ones, when we share fellowship, we know that these are the moments that build memories and the ones that led up to them, those noisy, bothersome hassles, are nothing in comparison, and soon forgotten.
But for those who are alone or lonely, those who are dealing with very lean finances, and those who are grieving the loss of loved ones, this time of year can be excruciatingly painful. For those whose hearts have been shattered, whose souls have been battered, it’s hard to be surrounded by the joyousness of the season, when songs and scents remind us of happier days, and those lost to us forever.
I think that life is like an empty vessel that is filled with a varying combination circumstance and attitude. Things happen beyond our control and it is left to us to deal with those occurrences, however we can, for better or for worse.
Traditions help, I think. Yes, they can be reminders of what has been lost, but they can also bring us closer, for just a moment, to those now gone, both people and times. Whatever our traditions may be, whether it is the sharing a particular meal, or the lighting a particular candle, an orange in the toe of a stocking, or a certain movie watched on television, in those moments, what was and what is are joined in the spirit of that tradition. Past and present become one, a chain unbroken reaching through the generations.
In our household we observed various small traditions, some that I enjoyed as a child, and some that my beloved cherished in his youth. These we passed on to our children, who in turn have passed them on to theirs.
There is comfort to be found in family traditions. We need these touchstones, even more as the world around us becomes increasingly hectic. As I get older, the world does seem to move faster. It’s harder to keep up. How wonderful, then, that some things don’t change.
This isn’t, of course, only a Christian truth. I think it’s a human truth. I think that no matter one’s faith, there is a need within us to have something we can look to, to hang on to, that is permanent, and in its own way, sacred.
Life may be spanned by decades, but it is lived a moment at a time. Memories are made in these special moments; memories are precious, and memories last.
I wish everyone every good thing during this Holiday Season. May you have peace and joy, love and laughter. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, I hope the traditions you create and the ones you perpetuate bring you happiness and joy.
One of my family’s favorite traditions is a steamed pudding that my mother made each Christmas, and that I now make as well. You will find that below. What makes this pudding special is that the only fat it in comes from 1/3 of a cup of milk!
Morgan’s Mom’s Carrot Pudding
2/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup currants
2/3 cup grated raw carrot
2/3 cup grated raw potato
1/3 cup of milk
Butter a one quart casserole dish. Set your steamer on to get making that wonderful steam.
Mix together all the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, place all the liquid ingredients (the grated veggies and the milk). Pour the liquid into the dry, stirring just until mixed. Pour into the buttered dish, and put in the steamer. Steam for 2 to 2 ½ hours, until the top is set.
Sauce for Pudding
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
¼ cup butter
1 cup light cream
Mix sugar, syrup, butter in a sauce pan, then heat and boil for five minutes. Add cream and bring just to a brisk boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Spoon warm over Carrot pudding.