Honest to Goodness - November/December 2013

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Lynn’s Letters: by Lynn Crimando Your Presence is the Present.


hen I think back on the holidays of my life, many fond memories flood my mind with great clarity. I’m brought back to festive meals, heartfelt toasts across the table and happy reunions, followed by fond goodbyes and promises to do it again next year.

back. The drive to get it all in and get it all right can be overwhelming. There’s shopping and cooking, parties to host and attend, and the specter of holiday travel with all that it entails. Let’s not forget the annual race to shop, wrap, ship, and repeat. Then return.

A favorite tradition of mine was the annual party my daughter and I hosted from the time she was five until she left for college. A multi-generational group from preschoolers to professionals would sit on a drop cloth spread across the living room floor that was laden with an assortment of jewel-colored candies and bowls of royal icing. Each of us endeavored to decorate our dream houses by affixing the candy to graham cracker “houses” we’d constructed using the icing as glue. By evening’s end a delightfully zany village would sit on the counter as we marveled at each other’s handiwork.

The stress extends beyond holiday-related activity. There are annual reports, projects and budget reconciliations to be completed and flexible spending dollars to be used by year’s end. Added to that are the extra hours to work in order to carve out time off. In short, in addition to the roast goose with chestnut dressing, there’s a lot of pressure cooking. One of my clients, an executive at a non-profit, summarizes the pressure well:

For me the main stress is on everything Now if I’m being totally honest, I remem- having to be special. You can’t just relax, ber just as vividly occasions on which I’d you have to be enjoying quality time with strived a bit too hard to create the perfect every relative you have no matter if they holiday feast. By the time the chevre, beet live 700 miles apart. You can’t just do and candied walnut salad was ready for what you want to do, eat what you want placement on the candle-lit table that was to eat, be with who you want to be with, draped with a table runner and sprinkled because you have these somewhat opwith dried fruits, the only visions dancing pressive traditions to live up to, and if you in my head were of a quiet room, a warm don’t do everything you’ve done every bath, and something to ease my aching year since the beginning of time, peo26