One of my favorite holiday traditions growing up was getting to have a glass of eggnog during the season. My mom would make it each year around Christmastime. Of course, this was the non-alcoholic version and it would be years later before I discovered you could add a bit of bourbon. The kind made from scratch is like a sweet thick milk, and it was like getting to drink ice cream out of a glass. This time of year eggnog appears everywhere in the supermarket, from the thick pre-made versions with a texture a bit like latex paint to new versions of foods you never hoped would taste like eggnog. Many people I meet seem to either love or hate eggnog. There’s rarely a person who simply expresses ambivalence unless they just happen to be someone who hasn’t tried it yet. When mentioned in a group, the suggestion is immediately met with either huge smiles or faces that look like they’ve just sucked on a lemon. But I still have a fondness for it to this day.
The main change is that as an adult, I realize that this drink is quite a calorie bomb and not particularly good for you. This kind of ruins it a bit as it’s not something I even considered as a child. That, and the media publicized fears regarding the dangers of using uncooked eggs sort of put a damper on the whole experience. But when we decorate our tree each year, we still have a glass. This year, rather than make it, we tried the Trader Joe’s Light version, which was actually rather good. Especially, when it was cut with a bit of Maker’s Mark and had some nutmeg grated on top. After we have our ceremonial glass, however, the rest of it was left to sour in the fridge. I initially thought we’d have another glass at some point, but for some reason, I couldn’t break the tradition in my mind. One glorious evening of a treat only sampled once a year is simply how it was done in my family.
As the lights glimmer and grow a little brighter somehow on the days leading up to Christmas, I’m incredibly happy. Thrilled to be in the midst of a season that reminds me not just about who I am, but who I was. The little boy who dreamed big dreams and wanted to change the world. The kid who tried learning everything and wasn’t content with being told he couldn’t do something. The teenager who didn’t yet know why he was so awkward with girls. The young man who wanted to advance in his career and make an impact on the world. All of these memories swirl through my mind, complete with the various gifts that arrived on each year’s milestone. Tokens that help me remember a whirlwind of time that can be so easily forgotten. Each of those moments bringing me to the middle-aged man I am today. Who still wants to change the world, but takes life a bit slower now having learned that all good things will happen when the time is perfectly right. Like having a bit of eggnog.
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