One of the best lessons I learned when I took my first tentative steps into adulthood was that I didn’t have to go home for holidays anymore. I could say ‘no,’ and just not go home.
I know it’s not as easy as all that — it isn’t. It’s difficult every single year. But it’s also easier than the alternative.
With few exceptions, I don’t go to my childhood home for the holidays. It’s not my home anymore — this is my home. The family I grew up with will always be my family, but I have a new family, too — it’s made of odds and ends, mismatched pieces, partial families, reassembled families, couples, loners, friends, loved ones, brothers, sisters, acquaintances, plus ones, strangers, kids, step kids, and sometimes dogs. My family of choice isn’t fixed or constant, but I love them every year (no matter who they are).
I’m fortunate to have the space and the means to host on family-centric holidays, and although it’s a fuck ton of work, it’s a lot of fun to make your own holidays. There are no critical parents, no sniping siblings, no racist aunts or uncles, no homophobic cousins, and no liberal-hating grandparents. There is no bad food, no one watching how many drinks or how many slices of pie you have, no one telling stories we’ve heard a million times, and when we all have a bit too much to drink, we argue politics… but since we’re all pretty much on the same “side,” the other side always loses. :)
This year’s highlights:
I made my grandmother’s recipe potato pierogies — at least a hundred of them. When she was a little girl, her grandmother used to make dozens and dozens of them in the days leading up to Christmas. In one of them — just one — she would put dried figs. Whoever got the pierogi with dried figs had to do the dishes. This year, I saved some dough and we came up with more modern “ringer” dumplings — we made one with vanilla wafers, one with raisins, one with jellied fruit snacks, and one with dill pickles. They were disgusting, but they got a laugh whenever someone cut into one.
I made a killer roast beast… er… a prime rib roast. I got a ten pounder this year (it pays to know your butcher by name and gift him well around the holidays). I wish I had taken a picture of it… it was perfectly medium rare (thanks to my small army of meat thermometers of every type, variety, and style).
I was gifted a Sriracha bag full of wonderful, awful stuff. :) Yes, that is Sriracha vodka. No, I didn’t drink it, and no, I don’t think I’m going to. I love Sriracha, and I love vodka, but I think I’ll keep those two loves separate.
We played a kid-friendly version of beirut (aka ‘flip cup’ or ‘beer pong’, depending on where you’re from…. I just happen to have a regulation beirut/beer pong table). We split the kids into two teams, and instead of putting beer in the cups, we put a couple of gelt pieces (gold foil covered chocolate coins) at the bottom of each cup. Each team lobbed (or bounced) ping pong balls into the cups, and collected the other teams gelt. At the end (they played until all the cups were claimed), each team split their gelt between the players on their team, which meant that although one team ‘won,’ all the kids got the exact same number of chocolates — the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers.’
All in all, it was a mismatched, misfit, random sort of Christmas… and it was lovely.
I hope your Christmas was equally merry. :)