Last year my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas with our infant daughter. She couldn’t understand the holiday, of course, but that didn’t stop us from discussing Advent calendars, wreaths, and Jesse Trees in depth, continuing a friendly argument about Santa Claus that has been going on since our engagement.
Citing our childhood experiences as rationale, we hashed out the significance of the Incarnation in the form of felt, cardboard calendars filled with chocolate, and a fat man driven around by reindeer.
Christmas in my youth meant festive cooking and fellowship. My mom made Greek kourabiedes, baklava, and pecan pie with nuts from my grandparents’ trees. My dad roasted beef or pork, carefully basting it with the au jus so that it melted on our tongues.
We never ate alone. Our guests ranged from Chinese engineering students, elderly couples without family, to lonely conspiracy theorists. Every year my parents took a census of the lonely and invited tablefuls to eat with us.
But one year we had only a single guest at our table. I’ll call him Jim. Full essay