For over 40 years, I have continued the tradition of making my Grandmother's "Millionaire Fudge." Why is it called that? Most likely because it was once made with the most expensive ingredients at the time; store purchased ingredients including, canned evaporated milk, 4 cups of sugar, a stick of real butter, 12 oz of Nestle's Toll House semi-sweet chips, 16 oz of pre-made marshmallow cream, 4 cups of sugar and 8 oz of Hersheys Milk Choclate with almonds - the Big Bar. The vanilla, salt and nuts were common in the pantry. This fudge was made annually, first by my grandmother and continued on by my Mom and my aunt. My sister and I both made it, but I am now the only person making it on a regular basis -- until this year. My immediate family is mostly following the Paleoithic diet. All are watching sugar intake because we understand the downfalls of ingesting sugar and corn syrup. We were doing this last Christmas too, but I was so bound and attached to the tradition of serving fudge, I could not let a year pass without making it. When I did, I took a bite and quickly discarded it. It had been almost one year since I eliminated sugar as a regular part of my diet. When I ate that piece of fudge, my body protested. First of all, it tasted nasty. There was an acidic response in my mouth. It was dramatic. I realized I really disliked this fudge which was once my mainstay diet during the holidays. Once I was on my own and making fudge for Christmas, I ate 1 to 3 pieces a day. I LOVED this fudge. This year, I feel sad because I will not be making the fudge, but I am also relieved. Last year's entire batch sat in the fridge for the holidays. No one wanted any. What liberation! This tradition was addictive and my need to make it anyway, just because it was tradition. illuminated the fact that it was an obsession. Now i see that refusing to make it and letting go of the tradition totally unbinds me and frees me from myself.
In that same 40 years, I have never failed to put my nativity scene in a place of prominence in our home. For the most part, my original nativity scene has been placed on the piano. I have another contemporary set that is displayed on the fireplace. I set up two scenes because I wanted one in the family room and one in the dining room, so that wherever we gathered, the display was there to remind us of the season. I started collecting some small nativity sets until I realized, my obsessive compulsive, addictive self might focus so much on the collecting that even my nativities would become a distraction and thief of time from the meaning of the season. I love parts of the Martha Stewart (the MS who is creative and wanting to make things special for the enjoyment of others) in me, and I appreciate other people who can, in a balanced way, decorate more than one tree and set out lots of nativity displays, or santa collections, etc. But I don't like the Martha in me who acts like a labrador and becomes focused in an extreme linear way. Christmas does not need a lot of things to be Christmas. I have come to the conclusion that simplification is helping me to focus on my real calingl in life. What is my real call? That is the question. Calling changes. When I am bound to so many traditions, or "fads of the day", or collections of things, or television,etc, I become too busy to hear "the way."
Rather than being bound by tradition, I am slowly learning to evaluate my time and to take the time to discern my next steps. I have not decorated my home for Christmas, except for one nativity, the past 3 years because we spend so much time with our kids in California. This year I am taking out a few decorations and putting up the best. I will give up what is good for the best, and donate the rest! I may even get a tree this year and find the most memorable ornaments to enjoy. The simplicity of the nativity begs me to take another look at my life and my home and to let go of all that forces me into a frenzy of holiday clutter. That is my call for this year.
Unbind my heart...unbind my mind. Rethink advent....