You know that moment, when you are looking around the table at your family and friends who are clutching their silverware in anticipation of the steaming, delicious food that sits on the plate before them?
If you are in a Navajo household, this pause is a good 20 minutes while grandma does a lovely blessing over the food.
This pause sums up the best part of any creative endeavor:
The moment when you look at the beautiful things in front of you and say: I made this.
Getting up at 3am to put the turkey in the oven, running to the store in the freezing rain to get that last, critical stick of butter, the mad dash around the house with the vacuum as you simultaneously shove the extra coats and toys in the closet, five minutes before your guests arrive, so that they assume that you are not only a great cook and talented professional, but also an effortless housekeeper (hint: they know you aren’t, but it doesn’t hurt to try to fool them) are ALL worth it in that moment when you collectively rejoice in the thing you have created out of a bunch of random ingredients.
Experiences, meals and memories are all part of our body of work.
And food carries a special legacy, like in the eggnog recipe that my dear friend Susan Baier’s Great Grandma Allie created 80 years ago.
Susan lost her mother this year. So when her family sits down together for the holiday meals, I know that when they take their first sip of eggnog it will connect them to the history, love, joy and relationship they feel with their mom. That is what favorite recipes do: remind us of decades of shared experiences.
Not everyone has good memories of family holidays. They can often be a time of stress, conflict and awkward conversations with Uncle Steve about why you are not actually unemployed, but rather have an Internet business. (“What the hell is that, and when are you going to get a real job like your brother?”)
We have a choice about the memories we create for ourselves and our families. You don’t have to repeat patterns that aren’t helpful anymore.
This holiday season, I invite you to reflect on the following questions :
- What feeling do I want to create in my home this holiday season? (peace, connection, laughter)
- What do I want to create to bring this feeling to life? (food, music, decorations, solitude)
- What traditions and legacies do I want to make sure endure through the generations?
- What unhealthy, unhelpful or stressful legacies do I want to let go?
When I pause before eating my delicious Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, I will raise my glass to all of you, and the beautiful legacy you are building through your unique bodies of work. I am thankful for our connection, and look forward to seeing what you create in 2014.