Once upon a time, about 3 decades ago in my previous life, I had a big house in the country. I had everything I thought I wanted - 3 cats in the yard, a really neat house, an apple orchard, a thriving small business of my own.
Every Christmas season, I had a big open house at my home. I had the coolest collection of Christmas music. The most over the top garland up the open stairway, an 18' Christmas tree in the great room. And I baked for weeks in advance.
This particular Christmas was in the middle of a year I now think of as "the year of learning."
Nothing was going right. My house, underneath all its remodeling, was just an old farm house. The Great Room and half the house was heated by a huge wood burning fireplace. My husband, who had left me for "no reason" (whose named turned out to be something like Jane) also left me unprepared for the coming winter. I had to get a cord of firewood dropped in the drive, and then loaded by myself around to the back of the house, up onto a small porch. Every morning I got up to an ice-cold house, alone, in the country, on a dirt road that sometimes didn't get plowed for days if the snow was heavy in the rest of the county.
When the holidays arrived, I wanted my Christmas open house. Did I have to give up everything?
And everything was going wrong. The day before the event, my road had been snowed in for almost a week. I couldn't get to the store. The stairs to the garage attic had broken and I couldn't get it fixed, to get to my many boxes of Christmas decorations, or to the holiday cookie cutters I always used - reindeer, Christmas trees, holly.
After flinging myself and everything I could think of about madly, I thought about just calling it off. But some friends had joked that they'd be there on snow-shoes if they had to. So I put away my recipes for stuffed figs, and hung up the idea of Christmas Open Houses Past.
I had the ingredients for sugar cookies, and I had three dinosaur Play Dough forms still in a drawer from when my nephew had visited over the summer. A new tradition was born - the Christmas dinosaur.
To greet my friends, who followed the snow-plow to my door, I played Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt. We all carried in firewood from snowy back porch. And then we munched down Christmas cookies that looked a bit like this:
A stegosaurus with Christmas tree lights down his back,
a brontosaurus in a sweater that had a big "L" in a circle, with a line through it (no-L),
and a ceratops with a giant wreath around her neck.
Happy holidays. Cheers to new traditions.