By Tonja Murphy
Pitching a Christmas fit
Three skillets of varying sizes, a cornbread-stick pan and a pancake skillet. All cast iron. I think it’s safe to say I like cast iron cookware as much as I like Crock-Pots. One afternoon in November after having lunch at Cracker Barrel, I approached the register to pay for my meal, and a display of cast iron cookware caught my attention. A quick glance and a mental check of the pieces currently in my collection determined that I didn’t have the Dutch oven.
I was all set to purchase it but was disappointed to discover it was a popular gift and the box was only there for display. The cashier gave me the website where I could buy it online and assured me the ordering process was fairly simple.
Normally, I don’t ask for anything special for Christmas, but since my children —who were 8, 9 and 19 at the time — always asked what I wanted, I told them about the Dutch oven. Unbeknownst to me, my children enlisted the help of one my sisters to order it.
I probably talked about the Dutch oven every other day until Christmas Eve, which means I subjected my children to endless chatter about it for nearly a month. On Christmas morning, my excitement bubbled over. Besides the meal, the highlight of the morning was opening gifts. I sauntered into my living room in my pajamas, robe and fuzzy slippers ready to open gifts with my children and my sister.
We opened box after box. As gifts were passed around from person to person, I waited anxiously to receive my coveted cast iron Dutch oven. We finally got to last box — which was too small to contain a dutch oven.
The silence was palpable.
I side-eyed my children then began whining as if I were a five-year-old who didn’t get the doll she wanted. Right there in the middle of my living room, I had what could only be described as a fit. I didn’t roll across the floor of my living room screaming and crying, but I wanted to.
For the remainder of the morning, I marched through the house huffing and puffing and side-eyeing everyone in my path. My sister shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe you are acting like this over a pot.” During dinner, everyone around the table was laughing and joking. Me? I sat in silence. As we visited with friends and other family members and later held family game night around the table, I just couldn’t seem to pull myself together over not seeing that Dutch oven under my tree.
The next day, I received a text from my sister about the gift. “I forgot to bring the Dutch oven from my office, and if I’d known you were going to act like that, I would have told you yesterday. It was funny to see you cut up though, and I will bring it by this week.” Immediately, I felt small and ashamed of the way I had behaved, especially in front of my children.
Today, my daughter is 28, and my sons are 18 and 19. Other than my massive collection of books, I live alone. With my oldest son being over 4,000 miles away, I only get to see all three of my children in person on special occasions.
If I want a dress, cookware, or anything that can be purchased in a store or online, I buy it myself. What I want this Christmas can’t be bought in any store. Gifts that I couldn’t possibly put a price tag on are my son coming for a visit from military service, the light in my youngest son’s eyes as he flourishes as a small-business owner and witnessing my only daughter’s love for being an unapologetic woman and lover of nature.
Sure, technology is great, and it affords me the opportunity to see my children whenever I desire. However, it’s not the same as physically being together. Indeed, having my three children together in one place for family game night would be priceless. Looking my children in their eyes, embracing them and laughing around the dinner table about the difficulties of adulting is the gift I yearn for most this year. I have enough cookware to last a lifetime, but the greatest gifts will be three knocks on my door, my beloved family sitting in my living room and enjoying a meal together at the dining room table.
As you traverse through life and embrace what matters most, consider the gifts God has given you. His precious gifts — whether family or friends — are priceless, and He loves us enough to give them. Be grateful for them and cherish them always.
Tonja Murphy is a writer, lover of life and self-professed Crock-Pot Queen who enjoys working with youth throughout the city of Jackson.