Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Coming on Christmas

...they're cutting down trees...love that song. Joni Mitchell, in case you were wondering.

I can think of a hundred things I should be doing right now, but I just did a hundred things.  I am going to sit here and try to blog [I've gotten as far as a title for this post in the last week] unless my little candy cane wakes up from her nap.

How are you doing this Christmas week?  How many days is it now, 4? 5?  I have no idea.  Are you stressed?  Is your kitchen covered in flour?  Do you have mistletoe and presents under the tree?  I can say yes to that last one. 

Christmas is my favorite time of year.  I get antsy at Halloween because I know it's almost time to put up the tree.  I have a zillion Christmas decorations that take me forever to put in just the right spot.  My husband is the master at outdoor light displays.  I know he can't wait for the day we have a much bigger home with all kinds of angles and tight spots to illuminate.  :) 

We love sitting in the living room with nothing but the glow of the tree, sipping hot cocoa and watching our favorite Christmas movies.  I so enjoy baking up all kinds of treats for our friends and family to enjoy.  I also enjoy preparing pans of cinnamon rolls, light catering and desserts for "customers" around town. 

This year is just a liiiiiiiiitle different.
I'm not missing a thing, though.  I didn't put up as many decorations as I usually do, and I'm certainly not doing all of the baking that I have in the past.  It's kind of nice, actually.  Sometimes I feel like parts of Christmas just "aren't the same", but then I have to remind myself that if "things" are what make Christmas special, then I'm missing the message of the manger. 

So what can we do to keep from getting upset or stressed when things aren't going our way during the holidays?  How do we stay focused?  And by focused I do not mean the intense lady in the Target ads, although she is funny.  Between holiday travel, family gatherings, and trying to find that perfect gift we can find ourselves just rushing through this time of year.  Or worse, we actually get so caught up in making merry that we don't necessarily feel stressed but we are just outside of what we should be focused on.  I don't think it's bad to bake cookies and shop, but in my own life and in our family we are starting to shift away from what Christmas has always been.

Many folks are on a soapbox this time of year about keeping Christ in Christmas.  Truly, He is Christmas.  We're the ones who changed, not Him. 

If you are one of those folks who is feeling the yuletide pressure, let me encourage you to just take it easy.  Breathe.  It isn't too late to embrace the advent season.  You don't have to have 8 kinds of cookies baked, and you certainly don't have to spend all your Christmas money on gifts that may end up being returned.  Here's how we've kept it simple: homemade.  We love giving gifts to coworkers, friends, and neighbors who stop by during the season.  Some great ideas are homemade hand scrubs, cookies, pancake mixes, and hot chocolate.  Put something in a jar, tie it with a nice bow and there you go, a great Christmas gift.  I love to give and receive homemade food gifts.  If you're looking for an idea, here's the hot cocoa recipe that I give away each year [which I may or may not have stolen from Alton Brown].

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine salt
Dash cayenne

Just whisk it all together and package it nicely for your guests.  Add the instructions [1/4 cup mix to each cup of hot milk] on a decorative tag so that they know how to make it.  You should end up with enough for about 20 cups of hot cocoa.  I usually give folks enough for 4 cups. 

I hope this helps.  This is about 10 posts crammed into one.  I've been sleeping instead of blogging.  :)

Merry Christmas!

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