After I became an adult, my mother instituted the Christmas Cookie Baking Weekend. My sisters and I showed up and her house and we baked. Dozens and Dozens and Dozens of cookies.
They are very pleasant memories for me. It is a particularly traditional thing for women to do something of this nature. Cooking. And despite being all in favor of women breaking out of traditional expectations, I found this particular tradition to very supportive of my feeling of family.
As my mother became ill, we stopped doing it. I regret that now, but I don’t remember that I regretted it at the time. I remember being stressed and busy with my job and decorating the house and shopping for presents from both me and my mother. I think not baking was just one less thing I had to contend with.
Now I regret it because I realize that the moments that I cherish most are the shared experiences. And baking was a shared experience that seemed to exemplify what family is.
Buying presents and giving presents and getting becomes a burden for me. Its an expectation that cannot live up to its fanfare. But the act of being together and making something, that is something that always has more value. Even something as unnecessary as Christmas cookies.