In continuing with the theme of how things have changed since the death of my parents, I was reflecting Sunday afternoon as I drove up here. One of the things that has been very much on my mind is that I now have the freedom to choose. I can choose to hold on to some traditions and let go of others. I can even choose how I'm going to carry out the traditions I choose to keep.
My parents loved to entertain, but they made entertaining more difficult than it needed to be with their lack of organization, their failure to plan ahead, their tendency to take on more than they could accomplish in the time available, their procrastination, and the way they were reluctant to modify their plans if they were running out of time. Holidays, with the extra entertaining, were particularly stressful. They'd always underestimate the time something would take, and they'd leave too much until the last minute. I can choose to entertain in a different way. I enjoy hosting a Christmas open house, but I don't have to do all the food preparation myself. I can ask others to bring some of the food. I enjoy baking, but I don't need to make every recipe every year. This year the walnut crescents didn't get made until after Christmas, and many of the more time consuming cookies weren't made at all.
I can improve upon their traditions, by planning ahead and being realistic about what can be accomplished. I can improve upon their traditions by making things easier. I can choose what is important, hold onto that, and let go of things that are less important. I live over 1o miles from the nearest grocery store. My parents always lived within a mile of one. So, Dad would go the grocery store daily. He saw no need to plan ahead. I remember one year suggesting that we figure out several days early what we'd need from the grocery store for the New Year's Eve party. They looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Why would they do that? I can choose to clean up the kitchen as I am cooking or baking, so that there isn't a huge mess when the food preparation is done. I can find ways to make sure that the stress that went with certain traditions is eliminated.
I can prepare things ahead and plan menus that enable me to enjoy time with my guests rather than hide in the kitchen finalizing preparations. I can take all the good things they taught me, and make them my own. I now have the freedom to choose. I am enjoying that freedom.