Just a note of thanks to you, Mom, for all the Christmas dinners you cooked us. We knew it tired you, especially in the later years. We could see it wearing as Christmas eve stretched to Boxing Day. Do a little, less, we urged, and we even brought things. But somehow the occasion just grew and grew.
Yesterday, as we stumbled groggily around our house, biding farewell to overnight guests, emptying the dishwasher of the last stray pieces of china, avoiding the sticky spots where the punch had dripped on the floor, our legs sore from the hours of standing in the kitchen, our senses numbed by the Boxing Day dilemma of whether to choose left over lemon tarts or left over mince, we turned to each other and said we were beginning to understand how tired you really were, all those Christmases, year after year.
We wondered which parts we might leave out another year, to give our selves a break. And we concluded that everything had to stay. Fatigue, apparently, is a less powerful teacher than tradition. In a month we will recall the warm glow of the midnight church candles, the raspberry tang of trifle, the card games where contestants aged nineteen to ninety squared off in fiercely laughing competition, the cooling sweetness of punch, the new clothes that fit perfectly, the delicious cheese dip that Ruth brought, the afternoon naps in front of the television. And, just like you, we will have forgotten how tired we were.