This time of year, I long a little for ritual. A Latin mass. Thanksgiving dinner at our family home. Easter brunch at grandma’s. A real pine tree in the living room.
Even though, in those moments, I despised the predictability of ritual. The view of a priest’s hunched shoulders. The fussy table settings. The drone of everyone’s anxieties.
When a stranger joined us on any holiday, it was Christmas for me. Someone new to unwrap with questions and jokes. Someone new to disrupt the usual drama.
Now, I am that disrupter. The divorced aunt, the single friend with nowhere to go on holidays. It’s just a day, I tell myself, just another day and hesitate to make plans. But then at the last minute, friends or relatives of relatives generously invite me to their celebrations.
I bring the relish tray or wine or sometimes pie. But mostly I like to think that I bring the delight and discomfort of strangeness.