At a writing group the other day, we wrote about a Christmas memory that was discordant. Christmas is often this happy time of year, where we share happy memories and miracles, but we explored the other end of Christmas, when that expectation of happiness is instead met with difficulty.
One writer shared about when she no longer believed in Santa Claus, transitioning from childhood to being a teenager. The presents weren’t fun anymore, and her parents gave her a doll that she hated.
Another writer shared about a large cousin present exchange, and the strong feeling that she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by being disappointed. She cared more about others’ feelings than herself.
And then there was a heartbreaking story of a family trying to find happiness on Christmas morning–but instead of seven children, there were only six.
I thought about the Christmas not too long ago when we moved on Christmas Day. I made frog eye salad because I make it every Christmas. We put it in a cooler and we pulled over to a rest stop and ate frog eye salad for Christmas lunch with plastic forks, straight of the bowl. It snowed the day, hard, and we got into our house late and exhausted.
There was another Christmas, a few years before, where I was dealing with mental health issues and did not have a handle on my emotions. I was overcome with anger and ended up throwing the frog eye salad in rage–it landed everywhere, even on the Christmas tree.
Why was I making frog eye salad for Christmas when it was tied to so many difficult times?
Because I really like frog eye salad. It’s a weird combination of custard and acini di pepe pasta and canned fruit and whipped topping. Yes, I’ve eaten it during hard moments, but it still tastes good.
Sometimes Christmas doesn’t need to be the most wonderful time of the year. Sometimes it’s hard and difficult. Sometimes we cry more than we laugh. That’s okay. No Christmas is really perfect. We’re all still people trying our best and failing a lot. But we still keep trying. In all that trying, it’s okay to just let life come in all it’s imperfections.
And if you are going through hard times, it’s good to remember that your favorite food can still taste delicious.