Modern Culture and Christmas

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Everything is fast these days. You want to call a friend, chances are you can reach your friend with a text message or phone call right away. You’re hungry? Pop something in the microwave, it’ll be ready in a minute or two. Want to know more about someone you just saw on TV? Do a search on his or her name. Like right now, thousands of people are searching ‘Gabi Wilson’ after her second appearance on the Today Show this morning. I already know that, because I can see real time statistics on this site, and lot’s of people are finding the articles we’ve posted about her. I don’t have to wait at all for information. Haven’t done any Christmas Shopping yet? There’s still time to shop and get your gifts across the country, or halfway across the world. Of course you could just e-mail them a gift certificate instantly. Things go so fast these days that if you’re not careful you’ll miss Christmas. You’ll already be on to the next thing.

When I was a kid, we used to celebrate Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle’s home, a non-practicing Jewish household. We all said ‘happy holidays’ and enjoyed the company of family and great food. As an adult I have come to understand the pagan roots of the Christmas tree, so I have a very universal and inclusive outlook on Christmas. Any reason to get together with family, see smiling faces, and kids entranced with magic, is a good reason. For me it’s all inspiration to get out my pots and pans and favorite recipes and start cooking, probably a couple days ahead of time. I don’t even have a microwave, and don’t intend to get one either. I’ve figured out an equation that probably isn’t as momentous as the theory of relativity, but this it: The longer it takes to make=The better it tastes.

It’s easy to forget with all the gadgets and conveniences, the airplanes and preserved foods, that we are each still engaged in a struggle for survival. It might seem like your survival is tied to your bank balance, but there is something more basic than that. You have to eat. There might be a day when many of the things we are used to are no longer available, no matter how much money you may or may not have. How many Americans these days know how to hunt, or plant, harvest and cook their own food? It takes time and patience and knowledge too, to bring food to the table, and I try never to forget that.

We have a garden in the backyard which my husband maintains. It’s my job to preserve and to prepare what comes in from the garden. It’s rewarding, and our children also have learned some survival skills in the process which they don’t learn at school. But we don’t produce enough to survive on. I’m one of those careful shoppers who looks for bargains and also the best, cleanest and healthiest foods. I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen year-round. But the daily routine has required me to be efficient. I have a repertoire of meals that take me between thirty and sixty minutes to prepare from scratch. Now that’s slow to a person who normally puts a frozen meal in the microwave. But the taste payoff is huge.

So what about the holidays? You can go to your nearest supermarket and pick up party platters, hot meat already cooked, instant gravy packages, cranberry jelly in a can. Sure you can. That would leave you free to lounge and kick back, I know. Bless you. But if you’re looking for me when Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café is closed for the holidays, you’re most likely to find me in my kitchen, tending to a pot of beans that’s been on since the morning, marinading something for tomorrow, making a homely looking pie (still trying to get the pie crust thing together,) cooking those fresh cranberries in some zinfandel wine, watching a movie with the rest of the family from my position in the kitchen.

By the time I put my feet up and have a sip of cognac, I’ll probably be tired. But nothing makes me happier than to see my family eating food that I prepared for them; (it’s also the only time they are quiet.) If you’re looking for something more, or feel like something is missing this Christmas, and you’re blessed to have a kitchen and food, try slowing down and spending part of your day doing things the old fashioned way.

Wishing you all Peace and Poetry

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