Most every family has one … the coordinator of holidays, birthdays and special occasions. The email facilitator of information, the menu planner, the go-to person. Yep, that would be me. And I’m resigning my post.
When my parents were alive, family celebrations for my brothers, sister, myself and our assorted spouses, children, extended family and friends was always at their home. Mom did most all the cooking because she loved to cook. The food was wonderful and my parents were happiest when they were in the company of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Every birthday was celebrated, every anniversary remembered, and most holidays meant we would be together. Were all family gatherings fun for me to attend? Of course not. But for better or worse, we were together and that counted for something in my book.
Due to circumstances that I didn’t really give much thought to, I wound up being the family cruise director after my parents died. Mind you, I like entertaining family and friends. I enjoyed tapping into my “inner Martha” and decorating the house for gatherings. I used to host a July 4th BBQ that included a watermelon seed-spitting contest, replete with prizes for the winner and a bag of watermelon candy for the loser because “they sucked.” Unlike my mom, most meals ended up being a pot luck situation. It was fun to put up a big Christmas tree and decorate eggs for the Easter hunt. There were birthday parties with special menus and special cakes. There were gifts galore. There were phone calls and lists and much time spent coordinating schedules.
But I’m not doing that any more. I kinda like being the invited guest these days. Sure, I still love to entertain, but prefer the small-scale variety. The last couple years have involved a break in tradition for me and trust me when I tell you I had no problem with that. Last year, I went out of town to spend Thanksgiving with my daughter-in-law’s family. This Thanksgiving I’m going with my son and daughter-in-law to his step-mother’s sister’s house. Go figure! Lord knows where I’ll be next year. But it’s all good. I love the freedom of not being in charge. I love the variety. And I’m not at that point in my life where I need to experience the same holiday rituals from year to year.
Besides, as I told my girlfriend the other day, It’s “not my time” any more. It’s good to let go of the reigns and enjoy someone else taking the lead. I think when you have a young family, or a big house, or want to play hostess, then that’s the time to be the family cruise director. I’ve had my turn. And retirement looks pretty good to me at the moment. So if I change my mind about all of this, please someone remind me that I don’t need to bake the special cake that only my father liked. I don’t need to fiddle with centerpieces, or lists, or RSVP’s. I don’t have to make enough fudge to put folks into a diabetic coma. It’s not necessary to wash dishes for 18-24 people after a big dinner.
Holidays and celebrations with family and friends is still important to me. And like my parents, I’m most happy when I’m with the people I love. So sign me up for a desert or wine … whatever works best for you!