Posts Tagged ‘candy cane’


This time of year we overwhelm ourselves. An oven that’s on from morning to night, especially in the hectic last few days before Christmas. Thinking you have to make tins of cookies AND a gingerbread house AND fancy schmancy cookie ornaments with guests’ names piped on them in royal icing. Then there’s hosting too many events, or cooking too many things for those events, or worst—knowing you’re not that comfortable a cook, but you still attempt roast pheasant wrapped in bacon and a three-layer chestnut dacquoise. We think—and I’d bet it’s a misguided thought—it has to be this way or your relationships will go up in a mushroom cloud.

Today I am going to argue for doing Christmas exactly the way you want. (If just reading that sentence gave you hives, then this is really for you.) Christmas is supposed to fun and nourishing to mind, body and soul. For kids. For guests. For you, too.

Think back on your favorite Christmas memories, and try to distill them down to the ones closest to your heart. If I can bet again, I’ll bet they’re about something simple. Warm gingerbread. A candy cane. Playing with your cousins. Watching the snow fall at night.

Sink into that nice calm feeling for a little bit.

Now think about what you can to pare down your holiday. If the train you drive at holiday time is already at maximum speed and can’t be flagged down at this point, you can save what I’m saying for next year. Like a rum cake, it’ll probably taste even sweeter by letting it marinate. But I’m positive there’s at least one thing you can scale back.

As for me, I grew up in the kind of family for whom food, great food, was tantamount. We ate always well, especially at holiday time. But it came with a price, at least for me: It was required that we dress up for every holiday, and with that came an air of pretension at the table. I’m not a formal girl (as you’ve probably guessed by now), so this was exhausting.

Many years later, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for myself and my new husband. I wore sweats, spread a blanket on the rug, fixed myself a plate…and ate every bite with my fingers. Even the mashed potatoes.

Liberating doesn’t even come close to how that felt. It was fun, it was a boost to my integrity, and let me tell you…the food tasted that much better for it.

I know that’s an extreme response. But it’s a good jumping-off point for you.

How can you eat with your fingers this year? Pick just one thing—and do it.

*You’re looking at the photo and scratching your head. No, I have not become a botanist (that whoosh you just heard was the field of botany breathing a collective sigh of relief; I barely passed biology). I took that photo on a beautiful foggy day last winter, and it’s on my Christmas card this year.

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