Let’s get after it! Those words are borrowed from a newscaster, but I use them to motivate myself as a storyteller who hopes to praise a memorable day called Christmas to my dear readers. Indeed, let’s approach Christmas and revisit this ancient story. In visiting history we might also discover who we are and perhaps just what the holiday represents to our world today.
Historically, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, a man who would change the world and inspire so many. His birthday offers hope to multitudes of people. These days, the holiday has evolved away from his spiritual legacy into a spending frenzy for Americans. What I wish for us all is to drop kick the buying aspect of the holiday and fall back on a traditional gathering of loved ones. And to remember others, those fortunate and less fortunate — or to simply think of it as a chance to gather the wagons around family and share love, compassion and generosity.
With all that comes food.
Whether shared intimately with a partner or spread wide into a rendezvous with family or friends, Dec. 25 looms a special place in many lives.
In Timothy Egan’s new book, "A Pilgrimage to Eternity," he explains how only 15% of the English people now call themselves Anglican. Many have turned agnostic or atheistic. Thousands of churches have been abandoned in this move toward secularism. The world moves faster today and becomes more impersonal daily. We seldom slow down together for an intimate evening meal, carried out with homemade food or lengthy conversations about history, engaging ideas or current events. And let me not forget the arts.
This Christmas, I plan on a daylong celebration of eating and sharing. As much as I loved my customers when we ran the Shelburne Inn, I now relish a day of relaxing with friends and family at a slow pace revolving around the shared bounty of food.
Eating and sharing
I’m not so foolish to believe that holidays pass without some conflict, particularly in these divisive times.
I offer this suggestion: Purchase — better yet, catch — some crab and plan a bisque for Christmas dinner. This specialty became a tradition in my family as my mother served her crab bisque every Christmas Eve. Yes, a fresh steelhead is superb. Or a venison roast. Certainly, something caught in the wild will make an indelible impression. Bake some homemade bread. Single out some regional cheeses. And how about a mincemeat pie? Or perhaps apple and cranberry! The single requirement is to celebrate around the kitchen, and then move to the Christmas tree and the gifts.
I’m a potter. The idea of homemade offerings comes naturally to me. What if families insisted on making homemade gifts? That might include Scandinavian holiday breads or homemade relish or jam. And if the gathering is large, having everyone contribute to a smorgasbord delight.
And finally, why not spend a few minutes discussing the wisdom of Jesus and others who bring peace into our lives, whether they be the Dalai Lama or Jimmy Carter. This Christmas, let’s open hearts and minds to a more peaceful planet. Let’s share our love — and our food with a loving touch.