So here it is the eve of Christmas Eve and I have, like many of you, spent a great deal of time the past few days cooking and baking...for everyone else. Why do we do this to ourselves? Do we feel some great need to prove our domestic goddessness to everyone by stressing out in a flurry of powdered sugar and candy sprinkles?
If you are like me, I very much enjoy cooking for other people. I get a lot out of watching other people take pleasure in something I have created. I love having people over because that means I get to put together a menu and use some new recipe or technique I've learned.
This time of year, however, I begin to feel a bit Scrooge-like. It's not because I have stopped enjoying my time in the kitchen (although I do bake much more than I care to this time of year and baking is not my favorite discipline), but it almost feels like an obligation around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I believe this feeling is reflective of our entire mentality this time of year. We are so caught up in our "holiday obligations" that we have veered off the true Christmas course. That course, obviously, is remembering the true celebration of Christmas: the birth of Jesus!
I find that once I remember why we celebrate this day, everything else falls into perspective. I realize just how truly blessed I am, and how thankful I am for all God has given myself and my family, and I am rejuvinated in my desire to give and create for others.
I also think back to my favorite Christmas food memories. I remember that the reason my mom started making goodie boxes is because when we were a very young family, there was not a lot of money for gifts, so she baked. I have had long forgotten memories of my grandmother's goodie closet refreshed (thanks mom!). I remember homemade vegetable soup (before church) and a tray of cheese and summer sausage (after church) on Christmas Eve. And I remember all the fudge, buckeyes, and fruit cake being stored in my older brother's bedroom because it was the coldest room in the house. Oh....that fruit cake! Little bundles of brandy (or was it rum?)-soaked joy wrapped in cheesecloth like little mummies, just waiting to be untombed in a few weeks time!
So now I look at my seemingly never ending grocery list (and bill!), stare at my cooking and baking to-do list, and remember that were it not for Jesus, this birthday celebration would not be here to enjoy, and all these wonderful memories would be nonexistent. So I will go back into the kitchen and tackle my scones, short ribs, and bacon-wrapped dates (yes Carrie, they are appearing yet again) with a truly thankful heart and plunge right back in, this time with the right attitude. Happy Birthday Jesus!
corn chowder with chile, lime and cotija - I evicted a longtime resident of my To Cook list this week with this corn chowder. I have no argument with traditional corn chowder — it has cream, bacon...
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