You know, I try my best to be a fun mom. And nothing screams “FUN MOM!” like amazing Christmas traditions. Right!? Right.
I keep my expectations low. I try my best not to do it all, to be flexible, to let go of perfection.
Case in point: Sometimes we make cookies. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we do and wish we hadn’t.
Anyway, one tradition we love is our “England meal” together, just our little family.
(Side note: After Peter graduated from High School, he spent a year in Yorkshire, England as an exchange student. And then, a few years before we had kids, we flew over the pond for a few weeks. We still keep in touch with several friends and it’s a dream of ours to one day spend an extended amount of time there with our kids. We’ll see. HOWEVER, we did not purposely name our children after Prince William and Kate!)
This year our Christmas meal happened in January, because we spent the week before Christmas in a terrible ice storm, with no electricity. And then we went to spend time with my family, followed by a trip to see Peter’s family. I was going to forget the whole thing but a snowstorm kept us indoors (and extended our Christmas break by 3 days), so we had plenty of time to pull it all together. (!)
I made Shepherd’s Pie and Roasted Parsnips with Orange Marmalade. I always dig out my Yorkshire Pudding tin and follow an old recipe from Pam Kemp. For dessert we had Marion Bain’s Creme Caramel. And we round it out with a large selection of our favorite crisps and candy (except for the Prawn and BBQ Beef flavors . . . those are always the last ones to be picked).
It felt so good to be home, after almost 2 weeks, mixing and cooking and planning. The snow was falling and everything was cozy. I was patting myself on the back for (1) establishing a fun, not-normal tradition and (2) not chucking it, even after all the craziness of the past few weeks (we had struggled to feel “Christmas-y” after four days of no electricity).
My kids hated the meal. They would not eat a thing. They picked and complained the whole time. They whined. We took away dessert privileges. There may have been tears.
Finally, we threatened to throw frozen hamburger patties on the table for Christmas dinner next year! Which was the wrong thing to say because they actually brightened at the suggestion, declaring their love for a good burger.
That was when we not-so-kindly excused them.
Peter and I drank our lukewarm Yorkshire tea, stewing about how hard we worked to do fun, unique things for our ungrateful children.
After we calmed down, we called the kids back to the table. And we apologized for our harsh words and they did the same. Because they aren’t ungrateful. . . and they are great kids, most of the time.
Moments later, we got this note from Kate, which had us silently snorting in the kitchen as we cleaned up.
So our England meal wasn’t all warm and fuzzy, but in a way, it turned out perfect. Because traditions are about making memories, which we certainly did.
And next year we’ll do it all over again. Because, darn it, they will learn to eat Shepherd’s Pie, whether they like it or not!