My 2020 Holiday Break and Privilege

Published on
January 13, 2021
Time to read: 
A parent serves their child macaroni and cheese, while both are seated at a table.
I'm grateful for this Photo by Any Lane from Pexels. The homemade macaroni and cheese described in this blog looked similar to that in this image!

Over the 2020 holiday break, as we kept to our home and connected with our family and friends through phone and video calls, I had the privilege of taking a break from my business.

During that break I did a few things I don’t normally do, like trying to cook a few family favourite recipes, from scratch, with mixed results. Everyone who knows me well, knows I do not enjoy cooking! I bring groceries into our home and sometimes even prepare food for my family, because we need to eat.

During the first 2020 lockdown, when sleep schedules were shifted to everyone’s own internal clock, there was someone awake and active in our home pretty much 24 hours a day. Since I didn’t relish the idea of becoming a short order cook, when there were so many other things I like to do, I stopped trying to cook for my family. My spouse and our offspring are all able to prepare their own meals.

Most years we spend Christmas eve with my in-laws, and Christmas or Boxing day with my side of the family. This year, that simply wasn’t possible. I asked our offspring what favourite meals they would miss, they answered ham and potatoes and homemade macaroni and cheese.

The Christmas eve potatoes were delicious!  We made two types – mashed and roasted lemon garlic.  Unfortunately, I forgot to read the instructions on the ham, and started cooking it too late. Eventually the ham started smelling cooked so I rescued it from the oven, and we discovered that while the idea of pre-sliced ham is nice, it’s also very dry, especially if you cook it as long as the directions say you should! Between the veggie sides, and the ham and potatoes, everyone had something to eat Christmas eve.

Christmas dinner was more successful, mostly because I was relegated to sous-chef, chopping onions and cooking noodles and rice to go along with my spouse’s signature holiday goulash. Add a few buns from our local grocery store and some veggies and everyone enjoyed dinner that day. We even sat at the same table at the same time!

I hit the cooking jackpot on Boxing day, when I followed my mother in laws instructions on how to make home made macaroni and cheese. She told me to do what I’ve watched her do many times in her kitchen. She did not give me a recipe to follow, she reminded me of the ingredients, and the order to use them. Then I did it, I created home made macaroni and cheese from scratch, including grating the block of cheese and making the cheesy sauce! I also made spaghetti with leftover steak and some jarred pasta sauce for the meat lovers. All three offspring chose to chow down on the homemade mac and cheese, it was a success! They even said I can make it for them again.

Having three days of home cooked meals, meant several days worth of leftovers, with everyone foraging in the kitchen when they were hungry.

For New Year’s Eve, one of the dishes I attempted to make was breakfast potatoes. Lesson learned, if you’re going to bake onions and peppers with potatoes, bake the potatoes on their own for a while first, so the other veggies don’t burn to a crisp in the olive oil! Let’s just say, it was another foraging night for most of our family members.

One of the other things I did over the holidays was to read several books. Most of those books were novels. Some were light reading and like holiday candy, just left me wanting more! I also finished reading one educational book “So you want to talk about race” by Ijeoma Oluo. There’s a lot to unpack from reading this book. For the rest of this post, I’m going to talk about privilege.

The first time I recall being schooled in privilege was in 2014, when an elderly white woman marched up to me after a talk that received a standing ovation, to tell me that she disagreed completely with everything that I’d just said. I asked her what she disagreed with, because I’m always interested in learning from people with different lived experience. She told me that I was speaking from a place of privilege, that she hadn’t enjoyed as an immigrant who came to Canada after World War II. She was right, and I’ve tried to be more aware of my privileges since then, and to take it into consideration when I prepare sessions.

Reading Ijeoma Oluo’s book made me realize I should further reflect on my privilege. I knew that I was privileged to be born to Canadian parents, who are still married to each other, and who continue to provide love and advice to me and my family. My in-laws are also still married to each other, and my spouse and I have been together for decades.

I already knew that being a cis-gender heterosexual white coded woman gave me privilege.

While my mother strictly rationed our food when we were young, because there was only so much money to see our family through to the end of the month, I never worried about not having enough to eat. In High School, my sibling and I were given a budget for back-to-school clothing. To my mind there always seemed to be enough. I’d like to think that my offspring, while not getting everything they’ve asked for, feel like they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from (other than having to prepare it for themselves) or having enough clothing and other basic necessities.

Intellectually, I know that I have a lot to be grateful for. Reading Ijeoma’s words helped emphasize that a safe home, food security, potable water, and safe transportation are also privileges, that allow me to see the world differently from so many others.

I also have the privilege of being a mostly able-bodied person. Wearing glasses to help correct vision has become so ubiquitous as to be not considered a disability by many people, including most of us who wear corrective lenses! I can walk, drive and otherwise move myself where ever I want to go, whenever I want to. This gives me more privilege.

Having a defined benefit military pension (good for life) means that I also have a measure of income security. My pension is not affected by the pandemic. I have the privilege of working from home, and doing what I love most, because of all those other privileges.

Ijeoma asks her readers to check our privilege, and to check it often. To make ourselves a little bit uncomfortable by making decisions to dismantle the systems that maintain privilege. She asks us to leverage our privilege to help others have the same opportunities that we take for granted.

In 2020, I invested in learning how to create more accessible online content. Learning new things is another privilege I have. Now seems like a great time to do more, to leverage my privilege to help others have the same opportunities I sometimes take for granted. I’m still figuring out how I’m going to make myself uncomfortable moving forward as I work to help others achieve their goals.

I’d love to get your feedback on what you’d like me to do!