The photo caption on FaceBook was “This year’s turkey”. That’s all it is, the Christmas turkey, then I took another photo with the Christmas wreath in the background. Only three candles still burning, one had already burned down. Of course there were our usual trimmings too, the cucumber tzatziki like salad, the rest of the potato salad, carrots, sweet potato, a green salad with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, wild rice, green noodles and gravy. And then of course the trifle for desert.
This year we were only five, so a smaller group than usual. Even the turkey was smaller, only three and a bit kilos, not four.
The last two days were my main job in the household. It is my labour of love and when the kids asked who cooked, even Josef answered, Mum, Christmas is Mum’s. Ever since I started working outside the home 20 years ago, Josef has been taking care of the cooking. Of course when he’s working or when I’m doing the metabolic diet, then I’m in the kitchen myself.
What I actually wanted to write about was authenticity. A Toastmaster colleague of mine recently described me as authentic. In fact more than one. I posted my photo of the turkey. Yes, I’m proud of it. And also because an Austrian friend last week was surprised when I said I was baking a turkey for Christmas. And because at least it is a photo from Christmas, even if it isn’t the whole family.
So I just had to post that photo. Afterwards I had doubts and thought I should have also posted all the trimmings. Lots of people are posting their family photos and elaborate tables. And lots of other people are skimming all their
FaceBook posts and getting depressed or feeling sorry for themselves. So now I’m writing about authenticity because I often hold myself back from taking family photos and end up just taking pictures of the food. Other times I’ve taken the family photos but post only the food.
On Christmas Eve my brother Eric, the Catholic priest, called me from my 91 year-old Mum’s place where all the family had gathered together in Melbourne to celebrate, where I grew up. They are nine hours ahead of us. Nearly everybody had already left. I asked him to take a photo with my Mum, brother and sister-in-law. They had not taken a group photo.
On Christmas Day we did the same with our second son who is currently in Canada. He is nine hours behind us. They were still preparing their turkey. We clowned around as his brothers took my phone on the new gorilla stand I just got for Christmas and placed it on my shoulder. I told him he was like a parrot and they took some photos in front of our Christmas tree. None of our photos are perfect.
I’m not writing to make anybody feel jealous or sad. I’m sharing my own feelings of inadequacy as I realize maybe we could have done the same with the family in Italy. I always think of how to make things better after the fact. I say I’m not criticizing but keen on improving things. I often feel misunderstood and frustrated when my efforts to improve are met with resistance, rejection or resentment.
We are not perfect. We are working on our relationships. As Josef said in his speech, it is often just knowing that I am a daughter of God, that helps him to decide to love me anyhow. The first time I heard him say that I felt offended. “Love me anyhow”? Is it that hard? Meanwhile I have come to appreciate it is the greatest blessing.
In all my authenticity I confess that we are both far from perfect but we work on our relationship. Funny phenomena, which I was kind of expecting, things got tense just before Christmas and it seemed to me, we were at odds, just as the kids arrived. Sometimes I think the kids think we are only together because of our faith. They must think we are bitterly unhappy and only staying together because we believe in the Blessing. Actually we relish our leisurely mornings when we sit at the breakfast table and share for hours. Often our discussions are about what we read together at Hoondokhae. Reverend Moon was very dramatic and said a lot of things to different people at different times. To us these directions often appear contradictory. Then we compare it to the bible. We go to the reference manual and check when was this said and want to know where was it, what was the occasion, who was the audience?
Our common conviction is we want to teach the practical application of the principle. Any religious faith is good if it makes you a better person. The Unification Church was officially dissolved twenty years ago and replaced with the Family Federation for World Peace. We are convinced that families are the foundation for the kingdom of heaven. We work on our family relationships. We are building our Kingdom of Heaven on Earth by appreciating what we have and sharing it.