Christmas Baking and Cooking – What Other Holidays Can Teach Us About Christmas Baking and Cooking
Easter eggs, Thanksgiving turkey, Valentine heart-shaped cookies (and chocolate desserts), corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, latkes, kugels, matzoh ball soup, inari (bean cakes)and so forth leave us with no question in our minds that other holidays have their festive foods that we make without a thought. But when it comes to Christmas cooking and entertaining, only Thanksgiving causes as many headaches.
Perhaps our expectations of ourselves are higher at Christmas and Thanksgiving, although men would argue that they feel the crunch around Valentine’s Day. Yet Easter, like Christmas, is a religious celebration. Shouldn’t we go crazy every year over cooking the perfect Easter ham? Yet we don’t display the mass craziness at Easter or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
Our habits are different during all those other holidays. They’re cooking and baking habits we can use to eliminate the Christmas craziness.
Every year we vow to have the best Christmas dinner ever, to outdo the last one. This is like making all those New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, read a hundred books, exercise every day, etc. We know we’re not going to keep those resolutions. Outdoing the last Christmas dinner we or someone else made robs us of the joy, which is the reason why we cook and bake in the first place.
It’s okay to be self-indulgent around the holidays, just not to excess. Don’t underestimate the power of chocolate. Don’t forget to appreciate your mate on Christmas and to make the special treats your partner hints about all year.
Half the enjoyment of Easter is hiding the Easter eggs and treats. Colored Easter eggs help us sneak in a little nutrition with the goodies. It’s okay to dress up your Christmas food—just don’t feel you have to compete for the cover of Good Housekeeping. Sometimes simple is best.
Jewish holiday cooking is joyful, fun, but full of religious significance. If you want to honor the spirit of Christ with your cooking, through traditional recipes, go for it.
Adults complicate everything with alcohol, overprotectiveness, depression, stress, and competition. Kids just look forward to having fun, getting candy, and making candy, cookies and decorations. While adults overanalyze (though Charlie Brown can worry with the best of them), children never forget to live in the moment and to get their hands sticky with homemade sweetness as well as a little glue and tape. So go ahead, eat dough with your kids.
Another bone of contention holiday, and we’re not talking about the turkey wishbone. Relatives plot where to spend Thanksgiving or whom to invite. Dieters fret about diets. Men wonder if they’ll get away with watching football the whole day. But when everyone gathers, there’s usually some semblance of gratitude for the company and the food. It should be that way at Christmas. Be happy you have people you love, and people you love to cook for, or vice versa. Be thankful for the wonderful food. Count your blessings, not your calories.