This Throwback Thursday is short, but I thought it is a great time to share the lovely essay from our current November/December issue with any of my blog readers who didn’t catch it in the magazine. Written by our former editor-in-chief, Robyn Griggs Lawrence, the essay shares a lesson of holiday simplicity I think many of us would do well to keep in mind this time of year. I love when she points out that her neighbors’ celebration was about enjoying each other’s company, not impressing people. As the holiday madness reaches a head in the next couple of days, remember that the important part of the season is the time we spend together (mania-free), not finding the perfect gift. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!
Martha, Mom and Midwinter Madness by Robyn Griggs Lawrence
My mom was a true Martha Stewart type before any of us had heard of Martha. Christmas started as soon as the last Thanksgiving dish was wiped clean. Mom hauled out Christmas candles with pinecone holders, ceramic nativity scene sets and handpainted dishes adorned with red holly. Bowls of candy and nuts were everywhere, and the Christmas tree took up nearly the entire den. Every Christmas Eve, friends and neighbors gathered around our dining table, taking their fill from platters of cheese, shrimp, deviled eggs, cookies and fudge. Mom made exotic hors d’oeuvres Midwestern kids in the 70s tasted only once a year: stuffed mushrooms and asparagus rolled in ham.
When I was a busy magazine editor, married with young children, I tried to mimic that holiday extravaganza. As we counted down to Christmas Eve, I worked deep into the long nights, making appetizers, wrapping gifts for Santa to distribute, cleaning Mom’s old Christmas china and baking cookies. I despised the cookies. Nostalgia had turned childhood memories of sitting around the kitchen table with my siblings, sprinkling green and red sugar onto cookie dough cutouts, into an idyllic family ritual. In comparison, my tedious hours of loading and unloading cookie sheets while my husband dealt with our small kids, who lost interest after the second sheet, didn’t match up. But we had to have those cookies — and peanut brittle, toffee and date balls. It was tradition.