I was telling Roger about a professor I had in college who used to begin each class by reading us excerpts from a diary of an Ohio farmwife who lived in the mid-1800’s. When I was in that class, I was entirely unappreciative of the professor’s obsession, and I remember to this day how I wished she would get to teaching and stop rambling. In the diary, the farmwife worked ceaselessly for her family and livelihood, baking pies at all times of the year which she sold or bartered. I remember the endless statistics: pounds of flour and sugar, pecks of apples, numbers of pies.
Here I am, 25 years later, and it’s not the class I took that I remember. I remember the hard work and sacrifice of that Ohio woman. Lesson learned.
Christmas is like that, too. I attended a funeral yesterday, and all six of the speakers remembered how the deceased father had established the tradition of dinner conversation, where each attendee had to be prepared to talk about the significant events of the past year. One son remarked that the expectation was sometimes dreaded–but remembered with pride.
Similarly, recently, I read an essay written by a teenager who recalled her Christmas family tradition. Each child prepares a talent to share with the extended family on Christmas Eve. I would have expected a hint of complaint in this essay; instead, it is a challenge and a joy. I would bet there is complaining along the way, but that’s not what this young person remembers most.
We all know that the Christmas season involves lights, gifts, plenty of food and family. I would argue some Christmas traditions involve a little hard work and creativity and will be remembered only in retrospect as the best memories.