It has been a long day. We went out shopping to get the last of the gifts and a bunch of ingredients for making peanut brittle and cookies. We had a list and went from store to store getting what we needed. One of the stops was at a store that I have boycotted for years. I went inside and was immediately overwhelmed by all the "stuff", most of it made in China. I waited by the entrance for C. to finish getting some wrapping paper and bows. It seems remarkable that these huge stores are such drivers in the world economy and have driven so many small stores out of business over the years.
That first Christmas together was memorable. We spent a lot of time working on our dissertations, but we spent Christmas with my parents. Virginia has some excellent peanuts so C. decided to make peanut brittle. I watched C. cool the candy on the marble topped coffee table that my parents had in the old house in Virginia. She greased up the table with butter and spread the hot candy on the marble where it cooled evenly. It was heavenly good stuff. My father ate a lot of her brittle. So we decided to make the candy this year to give to guests at our Christmas day buffet.
And the cookies are going to be the iced kind. We will use the old cookie cutters that we have had since we celebrated our first Christmas together. They were the ones that my mother used when I was young. I would sometimes help her cut out the shapes of trees (my favorite), stars, bells, horses and gingerbread men. I think my job will be to help paint the icing on the cookies and then add the sugar sprinkles and decorations. The holly cookies are especially neat looking, formed in the shape of wreaths with those red cinnamon candies pressed into each. So this weekend will be cookie production time and another step in the holiday festivities.
So far, there has been only a couple of "bah humbug" moments. My wife's parents are nearing 90 and have had a cold. I stopped by to see them the other day. One of their favorite topics is medical treatments, doctors and illnesses. Their complaints about a particular doctor who I happen to like and use were vehement--"He only likes you because you have a Ph.D. He is a bum who doesn't know anything. He doesn't care because we are old people ready to die." And so on. Not much merriment there. I listened to their complaints, giving myself a half an hour. The only comment made by me was to suggest that if they weren't happy with the doctor, perhaps it was time to switch to a different one. Time to go, get out of there before the unhappiness ruined my mood. Luckily, I went right from there to a meeting. Nice to walk into some laughter and smiles.
I love my parents-in-law but can only take them in small doses. Negativity is draining. I can feel the energy leaving me as I listen to complaints. It is best for me to be kind, listen, and then leave. C. and I both know that their fear underlies so much of the behavior. Recovery has made me see the human side, feel compassion, and not fall too deeply into the negative energy hole. 'Tis the season for all kinds of things, some soft and sweet and some brittle.