The Christmas Table
It’s Christmas day, and as the kids grumble about the gifts they didn’t receive, you’re in the kitchen, surrounded by the sharp aroma of minced onions while completing the repetitive task of removing the thick, robust skin of the potatoes. The kitchen is filled with the pungent and sweet fragrance of herbs as the flavors infuse the crusted flesh of the roasted bird. The eggnog is already chilling in the fridge; its lingering sweetness is still fresh on your tongue.
Now you have to roast the vegetables, mold the biscuits, layer the lasagna, stuff the mushroom caps with sausage and breadcrumbs, and prepare the stuffing for the turkey.
You release a heavy breath, feeling the weight of it escape your lungs. The kitchen is sweltering, and tiny beads of sweat are forming on your forehead. Ignoring it, you grab the knife and start slicing through the chunky carrots with a satisfying crunch.
The crashing sounds reverberate through the house as your husband watches Die Hard on the television in the other room. You shake your head, amused by his feeble attempt to partake in the tradition of watching a Christmas movie. He increases the volume of the television, hoping the blaring sound will overpower the frenzied chatter of the kids.
You would think with all his training with you, he has become a master at tuning out the presence of others.
Apparently, he’s just an expert at ignoring me.
At this stage, you become aware of a dull, persistent ache spreading from your lower back like a slow-burning fire. Each step is filled with agony as the sharp pain in your heel intensifies, and a peculiar sensation of detachment fills your arms. Nothing seems more inviting than burying yourself in the cozy comforter, dimming the lights, and entering a state of blissful oblivion for the next few days. Unfortunately, you can’t. You must still cream the spinach and transform it into a velvety, flavorful base. Then, you need to chop the vegetables for the salad, adding a burst of vibrant colors and nutritious goodness.
As you slice into a pepper, the blade grazes your finger, causing a sharp sting, but there is no time to properly tend to the minor wound. The beans simmer for too long, and you dislike the texture when it becomes mushy. The perfect string beans provide a delightful crunch when bitten into. So, you run your pointer finger underneath the tap, relishing the sensation of the cool water rushing over your skin. Then you return to your tasks.
Glancing at the clock, you realize time is running out. Your parents will be here soon, and you want to have a meal ready for them after their hour-long drive. So, you chop, dice, bake, and roast, creating a symphony of sizzling sounds and mouthwatering smells in your kitchen.
You only stop when the dining room table is adorned with a colorful spread of side dishes and savory meats. You stop when the kid’s eyes light up excitedly, and your parents exchange a look of approval. You stop when your husband turns off the television and honors you with a kiss. When the next year comes, and you find yourself slumped in a scorching kitchen with cuts and burns, surrounded by half-finished meals and dirty dishes, you will recall this moment—the very reason you endure.