There’s an ideal that I’ve been pondering for years about “holiday spirit” and all its associations.
This is all just an anthropologist on or from Mars talking, who has never set up a holiday for a houseful of people or put up a tree full of lights or cooked a turkey or plum pudding with brandied hard sauce. But here on the outside looking in, it appears that everyone could save a little stress if they spread out the festivities and socials over time, rather than herding it all into one day here and there to fit the Gregorian Calendar and the store sales.
That can work in a more interdependent society where people check in with one another more often. “Who has time for that?” Well, people who share their cares and chores in everyday ways.
On Sunday at our small church up the road, one of the women brought delicious chickpea hummus. She and I were swapping hummus recipes and methods, and she talked about her sourdough baking, which led to a talk about pickling and fermenting, and then she mentioned kimchi. Kimchi? I never would have bet the ranch that the demographic of this church would be chatting with me about shopping at H Mart for gochugaru versus gochujang. (Then again, those Baptist folks are so energetic and enterprising that they do get up and out and living around the world.) “Me too!” I hollered at her, flapping my hands and jumping up and down. “There’s always a weighted crock in progress on the counter.” Then we talked about our favorite kimchi styles. (Later on her spouse remarked “It’s interesting to sit across a room and observe the conversations, and to see which people in the room light up at the word ‘kimchi.'”)
Well, wouldn’t it be a better world if we routinely swapped the weekly sourdough or pickling or what have you? Then everybody would have more friendly bacteria and more leisure.
Sometimes people shoehorn a whole bunch of celebrating into just a day here and there because, they explain, cleaning a full size family house with kids and a dog is such an exhausting hat trick that they can only carry it off every so often. That’s absolutely understandable to me, someone living in one room with nothing to tend but a salvaged geranium in a pot. So I tell them “Let’s set a timer for 30 minutes, and I’ll walk across the street and help you declutter until the timer goes off. Then you come over and we’ll set a timer for another 30, and you keep me company while I file paperwork. If we do that every week for an hour we’ll get way ahead and have fun.” But so far that idea has fizzled the conversation pretty quickly. “I can’t do that,” people say. “I’m too ashamed.” (Ashamed of what? You’re a paramedic who works crazy hours rescuing people and also raising three kiddos! And standing in the way of our quality time is a dust bunny trying to stare us down?)
What I’d like in my stocking this year, along with my foot, is a life where people are engaged with each other more often, sharing more holiday spirit (= generosity, engagement, and appreciation for our blessings) all year round. This holiday season I’ll practice more of that in my interactions day by day, and talk up the idea on how we can carry that over right into January.
Ok, got to stir the kimchi. Added some Nappa cabbage last night, so the mix might need more anchovy sauce.