On New Christmas Traditions and Grand Theft Rosemary

Since our mothers are no longer with us, Dan and I have been gradually changing the way we celebrate Christmas over the past few years. With the stress of my career ramping up and my busiest semester yet just completed, we chose to hole up at home on our own and create new and meaningful traditions that reflect the peace we both so desperately need.

Marley and Sophie on Christmas morning…

We still wanted to have a traditional Christmas dinner, but this time to do it with just the two of us, no stress, no set schedule- even in jammies if that’s what felt right. We had already done our grocery shopping, but discovered on closer inspection that we’d missed some important and key ingredients for Dan’s signature smoked Gouda mashed potatoes; cream and rosemary. The last thing we wanted to do on Christmas morning was to venture out in search of an open grocery store, but we bundled up and headed out, Dan wearing his knit cap that we call his Rastafarian cap…one that he’s had for over twenty years and that makes me laugh every time he dons it…especially when he goes all Jamaican on me. I love this man.

Even though Siri informed us the grocery store closest to us was open, we and a few other erstwhile holiday chefs walked up to the glass doors to see that just wasn’t the case. Our cooking plans seemed to be foiled! As we got back into the car, defeated, to make another sweep around town I remembered that Hot and Hot, a ritzy restaurant just around the corner, had huge rosemary bushes out front. I told Dan that we could just pluck a couple of twigs to at least have that part of our recipe. Dan looked horrified, saying, “There is no way that I’m going to get caught on camera on Christmas morning stealing three sprigs of rosemary wearing a Rastafarian cap!” We drove on to the next store, laughing until tears came.

No luck anywhere we checked, for which I was secretly glad. While I wanted to be able to procure our last ingredients, I was heartened that the employees were hopefully at home with their families instead of having to work on Christmas morning. We headed home to Chez Gainey and thought to check our herb garden out back; lo and behold if there wasn’t a little patch of rosemary that had survived the freeze- plenty for our purposes. Another Christmas miracle- and we were able to avoid jail time to boot!A beautiful Christmas Day…

We so enjoyed the day, cooking together, breaking out the good China, our holiday napkins, jingle bell napkins holders, and crystal goblets to set our holiday table. The house smelled like memories of Christmas Past with wonderfully mouthwatering aromas, and we lit all of our many candles and turned on every Christmas light as we listened to lovely holiday choral music. We were ready to enjoy our well-earned Christmas feast.

We ate and talked, the animals camped out on the floor beside us. Fantastic food and wonderful conversation were just the ingredients for the perfect-for-us holiday meal. As we sat at the table I looked at each empty seat, feeling the presence of our mothers and our dear friend John who passed away a year and a half ago. Their love and laughter filled the room- or at least filled our hearts- as we reminisced about them and about the Christmas holidays we’ve had over the years. So many stories and so much love. Marley checks out the sunporch view…

In the evening we sat on the sunporch enjoying a glass of wine and the view with our dear next-door neighbor, the animals peacefully sleeping by the gas stove. A day that was not perfect, but one that was exactly what we’d hoped it would be. I went to bed filled with gratitude for our day of Christmas celebration, with new traditions in place for us to build upon next year. Things may change in our lives, but our love remains the same- a true Christmas gift.

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