The endless fundraising appeals from various political campaigns have (mostly) been replaced in my inbox by Black Friday sales enticements. After I’d reached my budgeted donation amount, I could quickly dispatch to the trash yet another plea for money from candidate so-and-so or SuperPac whatchamacallit. I know what they are selling, and I’ve already bought it.
But thanks to Mr. Google knowing about every whim I have, every question, every random need to browse, much of my digital life is curated by Al Gorithm to tempt me. Can I really afford
not to buy that donegal cashmere sweater at 30% off? Do I dare resist the siren song of savings on those (faux) Chanel flats? After all, didn’t Coco herself say that “A woman with good shoes is never ugly?” Must I have that new kitchen gadget — a cookie scoop perfect for those dozens of Christmas cookies I usually bake — from the King Arthur Baking Company? What about a 3 quart InstantPot to nestle next to the 6 quart one already in my cabinet?
And then I (metaphorically) slap myself upside the head and back into reality. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon that requires a new cashmere sweater or admittedly swanky new shoes. I’m not hosting anyone for Thanksgiving, or cooking all the sides to take to my daughter’s house. I’m not going to be having a pre-Christmas cocktail party or a Christmas day brunch or a New Year’s day hangover. (Okay, maybe I will have the last one, brought on by solo drinking, and I’m not talking about that red cup).
Every now and then in year’s past I’ve thought, “Why can’t we just simplify this whole holiday season and cut back a bit on the workload?” Now I wonder what in the hell I was thinking. That workload — the shopping, the cooking, the baking, the cleaning, the hair appointment, the mani-pedi, the endless trips to the corner market to get that one last item needed — it was work but it was also ritual, with all of the comfort that entails.
This year I am not roasting a turkey, not even a breast. With just the two of us, the menu will be very different. Like many people, I’ve decided to pare it down, and also to shake it up. There will still be pie, because who can do without pie. Two kinds: pumpkin and cranberry apple, but baked in smaller pie plates. As a nod to the cornbread stuffing I always make I will whip up some cornbread to go with the main course of white bean coq au vin, a bit of an homage to the bean casserole and fowl we usually devour.
I’m still going to bake cookies, using that scoop that I couldn’t resist ordering. I can mail them off to the family outside of New York and arrange an outdoor delivery at the park with my New York daughter and grandson. Dan still wants to get a christmas tree, because who can forego the wonderful smell or the nostalgia of decorating it with the ornaments collected/ handmade/ gifted over decades of family life?
But since New York is hovering on the edge of another step back from what little normal life we’ve had since Phase Four began, I am going to resist with all my might those endless emails goading me into taking advantage of the fashion deals of a lifetime. I’m afraid it will be yoga tights and sweatshirts for the foreseeable future, with a sprinkling of Zoom-friendly tops for those times I need to look more presentable. And anyway, who knows what size I will be after I skip all of the usual holiday overindulgences?