Hello Beautiful Souls-I am feeling nostalgic remembering when I was a much younger woman and how the intensity of getting ready to host the big holiday meal felt, and recalling the feelings of anxiety as I prepared to embody my perception of perfection. Making sure the house was spotless and my holiday table was equally as shiny and sparkly as the dinnerware, silverware and stemware that only got used once a year. In the depths of preparing and planning with all of the consumption for excellence, I would often forget to be grateful on this very special day. While in the midst of the holiday chaos, I could easily lose sight of the reason we were gathering on this special day in December. If you are the cook in your family, you know that the time at the table is a short respite from the eminent clean up that follows, (and I hope you get help with that) and as soon as the clean-up from the hors d’oeuvres and the main meal are finished, it begins again. Everyone is ready for a hot cup of coffee, a slice of their favorite pie, and a plate full of cookies.
The day starts early and ends late.
Through the years, the folks sitting at my table have changed and so have our lives. It’s a much different holiday for me these days. I experience less anxiety, my perspectives have changed and I am comfortable using the good china on ordinary days.
I wonder if you’re like me and over the years, between your kids and your husband, your parents, your partner, your family and friends, you’ve made a special connection through a special dish or recipe that the special folks in your life have to have on the holidays. It’s these favorite dish requests that I want to include in the feast because I want that person to know how very special they are to me. I want to honor them through the food I prepare, always folding in that extra special ingredient; love!
We have a traditional menu request in our family that started when my boys were very young. I was preparing our dinner rolls for the holiday meal. Each muffin compartment in the tin contained two balls of dough and as they raised to the desired height, my son looked at them, patted them ever-so-gently and told me they looked like little butts. Since that day, they are referred to and requested as, “butt rolls” by my family.
I try to remember my families’ favorites especially now that the opportunities I get to feed them are less and less. I say get to feed them, because that is how I feel. It has always brought me great joy to feed my family. There is something instinctual about wanting to provide my family with food. There is a level of pride and a higher level of the act of cooking and baking that hold the intention of what feels like a gift for my family. Whether it’s the holidays or not, anytime I can sit down and break bread with the people I love, brings me intense joy. For me, food is love and preparing food is an act of love. Maybe this is an old-school belief passed down to me or maybe this is simply a mom in her nurturing element, whatever it is, I have it and I always will.
I have treasured memories of my mom and sisters and me baking for the holidays. A tradition that fell into the background because it was simply no longer available to me. I have very fond memories of baking and cooking with my sons and sharing holiday traditions while they were growing up. Four years ago my son and daughter-in-law began a family tradition of their own. They host both of their families for a weekend in December and it sparks old, nostalgic memories that I am honored to be a part of.
My favorite recipes are stained with batter and splatter, extracts and food coloring which make them even more endearing to me. I hold their legacy close to my heart as I hand-pick the ones that will be used again this year. Today, I gaze over the handwritten recipes with measurements, ingredients and instructions and they feel like love letters to me. They represent generations of gathering and filling, not only our bellies, but our homes with food, love, laughter, and family.
If you can’t sit with your favorite people on the special days ahead, I hope you get to remember, share, laugh and love. I am grateful for my family and friends, whether we sit at the same table or not, they are in my thoughts and in my heart always. Maybe your family has changed or your circumstances have changed and your table doesn’t look the same as it did last year. I hope you have a table and some food, but most of all, I hope you have someone to call family, someone to be grateful for in your life. I hope you have time to share with them and tell them they are loved.
I am grateful for my family and those I consider family. I am grateful for friendships, old and new. I am grateful for simple. I am grateful for difficult. I am grateful for my pets. I am grateful for my supporters and followers. I am grateful for new opportunities. I am grateful for confidence and courage. I am grateful for my breath. I am grateful for this life!
I hope you can fill an entire page listing what you are grateful for during the season and all the days that follow. If you don’t think you can fill a page, start by listing one thing to be grateful for each day. It is a wonderful practice to adopt into your life and your heart.
Happy Holiday Season