Last Sunday I had a dear friend over for dinner. Her birthday is in December and since December babies usually have to suffer the indignity of combined "birthday/Christmas" presents, I've made it a point in the last few years to either have her out to dinner or cook something for her and take the opportunity to be an autodidact in the kitchen. This year I thought I'd cook in. (Is that a real term? "Cook in?" I'll say so and move on from there.)
The meal was all right. Not overwhelming but good. Wild rice (cooked beforehand and served cool - should have heated it up), a Costco Caesar salad (legitimized by our getting her a card at the same time), a rather nice roasted cauliflower and red pepper dish (with a caper vinaigrette), a ham steak with maple/dijon sauce (a whole ham would be thusly glazed but since this was just a steak, a sauce was more reasonable) and rum ice cream for afters. It was all pretty good and I taught myself the sauce and made the cauliflower dish for the first time. By the way, roasting cauliflower is just the superior way to prepare it. It comes out with a delightful nutty flavor and I roasted it tossed in a very good olive oil which doesn't hurt the flavor either.
All of which is prologue to what left me speechless. My friend asked me the question, "Do you remember a Christmas where you got what you really wanted?" (insert long pause here ... getting longer ... silence ... pondering annndddd ... nothing)
I've had a lifetime of wonderful Christmases. I've gotten wonderful things from my parents, my siblings, my ex-wife, my in-laws and friends. Yet I could recall no single instance where I had some overweening desire which was satisfied at the tearing open of a package on Christmas morning. This makes me sad. Not as sad as the photo over on Curmudgeonly & Skeptical makes me but pretty darn sad nonetheless.
Is this what it coems down to then? The failure of memory? The idea that all the gifts which were so desired and so appreciated fail in the face of the attempt to extract a deeper meaning out of the getting? I am nonplussed. A more likely explanation is a failure of my imagination that those things seem, after all these years, to have not had as lasting an impact on me as I was sure they would.
I am left with a palpable sense of disappointment with myself. Merry Christmas? Yeah. Sure. I guess.
Christmas is for kids anyway. Really. I'm getting a tree and a wreath tomorrow.