It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas. It is that time of year when some are roasting chestnuts by the fire in festive Christmas flare, and others are simply trying to lift their heavy limbs from bed to face this confusing season of chaotic retail, family memories and the expectation for cheery elf-like behavior. While these two contrasting positions are a bit extreme, the reality is that the holidays can be though and confusing. The holiday season triggers emotional memories of kin. The aroma of sweet sugar cookie dough and the feeling of pressing that sharp snowflake shape into the fresh dough may flash one back into a moment of childhood. Some memories may be glittering images of a connecting family enjoying a holiday dinner. Some memories may invoke images of unsettling dysfunction splattered with green, red, glitter and glowing lights. Because we are human, most people posses a little of both types of baggage in their holiday stockings. So, the question is, with these overwhelming emotions that are transforming that cookie aroma from sweet to sour- do you keep cooking? The answer is yes.
While some memories may suggest a pity party and some whiskey instead of cocoa. Should we really surrender to this unhappy inner Christmas brat and miss out on cookies or more importantly, the moment? The reality is that other than a slight change in scenery December is not much different than any other month in the year when you are expected to be nothing but yourself. Does September 25th have you calling your therapist? It may be helpful to tilt that Santa hat to your fancy, loosen the bejeweled holiday belt and throw that elf-like spirit in the fire.
Now, chuck that cookie cutter in the sink, grab a knife and freely cut the dough into whatever shape you like. Turn off, “ It’s Holly Jolly Christmas, “ and turn on something that better suits your mood. Something bluesy like John Lee Hooker or Leon Russell might fit the bill.
Now, that your feeling a little more in touch with reality you can begin to cook and cook well, because to cook well, one must be present. This is why you should not stop cooking. As you come to your senses, you’ll see that your soup is about to boil! Quickly, you turn down the heat and take a deep whiff of the soup, smelling so much more than you had when, “Holly Jolly Christmas, “ was playing. You blow on a spoonful of hot broth so that it is cool enough to taste. Gently slurping the broth you realize that it is almost ready, but just needs a few squeezes of lemon and a handful of fresh parsley. After adding the ingredients you try the soup again- ah, but it still needs a bit more citrus. With the juice of one more lemon half, you try it again – ahh perfect. Because one has to be completely present to taste the precise nuances of a soup, making that soup actively keeps that Christmas brat quiet.