I have been particularly grumpy about Christmas this year. There is much hype and expectation, particularly heaped on women at this time of year, and it is hard to avoid. It has been said Christmas (as we currently celebrate it) would not happen were it not for women. Does that also mean we have the power to change it, if we want to? I think maybe it does.
One of the most annoying parts for me is, most of the tradition centres around Northern Hemisphere, and cold climate practices. In case you aren’t aware of it, it is 100F/38C here in my part of Australia at the moment. Aussies have done their best to move away from the hot cooked foods of our ancestors, but with other things we are not so evolved.
I understand why the tradition of Santa (Kris Kringle) has been perpetuated, but really, that hot, fur trimmed suit and the whole snow thing could take a rest, don’t you think?
Our family livelihood was growing Christmas trees. It was hard work for all of us. Sometimes we actually worked in the fields, trimming and harvesting them. Sometimes we were the support crew for those who did. I can tell you, the spindly, half dead tree I saw in the grocery store this week, presumably the last of a very small selection, bore no resemblance to a tree grown in Southern Ohio, where my brother still grows and sells trees.
In an effort to try and decipher the basis of my grumbles this year, I decided to see if doing things a bit differently might help. Traditions carried over from another life and another land, may just not be the most useful in current times.
Our daughter and her fiancé will be here for a few days and in an effort to keep my head from spinning right off my body, I asked her if she would mind if I didn’t put up a tree and decorations. She readily said it wasn’t necessary. Bless her. The next thing I did was put hubby on notice, that his useful presence would be required to help with various small chores, among them cooking on the grill.
What to do about the baking? Baking is a hot activity, even in an air conditioned house. I got a window of opportunity two weeks ago when we had a cool, rainy spell, so I quickly decided I would have enough time and energy for one thing and what would that be?? Our daughter always asks for the White Fruitcake and Pecan Sandies. Choose one. I can’t make the Sandies gluten free, but I can make the fruitcake gluten free, so that was the one I chose. Selfish of me, perhaps, but who needs the stress of cooking and being around food you can’t eat yourself?
As it happened, another gluten free recipe from my friend Francesca’s blog Almost Italian, came across my inbox in a very timely manner. It looked simple and like it would be the perfect replacement for Sandies. And it is.so.delicious. Baking only takes 15 minutes in a slow oven so even I could accommodate that on a 100F/38C day like yesterday.
The whole sending cards thing was a no brainer, and a no-doer. That ship has sailed.
Gifts are minimal and either consumable, as in edible or use-up-able, or in the case of our daughter and her fiancé things that will help them in their life. Hubby and I have each other’s Presence and that is all we need.
So in a nutshell, here are my five changes toward a lower stress Christmas:
- No Christmas decorations, only a small nod to festivity via some party lights and found objects from my morning walks
- Ask for help and keep the cooking simple and on the grill, if possible
- Bake less, enjoy it more
- Don’t send Christmas cards unless you love doing it
- Give gifts that will enhance the other person’s life, not to give you a thrill when they open it
Keeping things simpler has given me a lighter heart. There are no prizes for baking the most, shopping the most, sending the most cards, or having the biggest display of decorations. Presence is the best gift to give everyone, including yourself. Wishing you and yours the best of whatever you want for yourselves.
PS. Here is the proof I do own an apron, and a sense of humour as well! x