Holiday Cooking, Time, & Family Traditions

Today I helped my mom make my great-grandfather’s stuffing recipe for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner. This is one of those recipes that stays in the family and must be made every year. It would not be Thanksgiving without it.

The prep time for just one batch is around a half hour since it is more than just bread and seasonings. This time we made four batches. That is a lot of pre-cooking, chopping, and mixing but every minute is totally worth it. The turkey gets stuffed, the rest is baked, and there are always leftovers. A portion of our leftovers is my breakfast the next day, which is another tradition – stuffing and a bit of pie and/or cheesecake.

A lot of people are now discussing holiday foods and guilt or making the right choices. One thing that I don’t see is making the right choices when approaching the people involved in creating those holiday foods. I only helped my mom make the recipe. My parents took the time to go shopping and get the ingredients for the recipe. If it needed specialty items, that would have been another stop or another trip all together and therefore more time.

What frustrates me is that people take the kindness of others who cook or bake and make it the topic of something to complain about, be it themselves or how it is going to lead to some bad consequence. (Food allergies and/or specific health issues are not included in those bad consequences since that is just plain common sense. If something has peanuts in it, I won’t eat it and people understand.) I honestly don’t think some people even realize what they are doing.

More times that not it is regarding baked goods. Time and time again I hear someone muttering something along these lines after they walk up to the plate of whatever.

  • Oh, I can’t. That will wreck my diet.
  • Oh, I’m fat enough. (usually followed by a laugh or grimace.)
  • Oh, that’s too much sugar/fat/butter.

ME! ME! ME!

NEGATIVE! NEGATIVE! NEGATIVE!

LACK OF FILTER! LACK OF FILTER! LACK OF FILTER!

Baking and cooking takes time, thought, effort, and money. What about a plain old “no, thank you” which is much more polite? How about something along the lines of “thank you for taking the time to make this to share” if the person is standing right there?

If the person who brought the “offensive food item” isn’t even there, then isn’t the muttering self sabotage/verbalizing negative thinking? It’s the Holiday Season, a time for good tidings, spending time with loved ones, cheer, sprinkles, frosting and… well you get my point. 80/20 is often seen as an everyday balance is for healthy to “not.” (I use “not” since people have different views of what isn’t the most healthy way of eating.)

If a day is a holiday celebration, then it is not a regular day. In general,  I try to eat a decent balance of foods. Some days are more balanced than others but I never deny myself something as long as I have a realistic approach to it. I often joke that if you want a cookie, eat the frickin’ cookie and not the entire package. I think holidays need to have that realistic approach. Maybe it is a 75/25. Maybe it is splurge on a few predetermined day and then keep the usual plan every other day.

Personally, I plan to enjoy every bite. Will I stuff myself at the Thanksgiving dinner table? Of course. Will I eventually eat so many Christmas cookies that I no longer want to see another one? Yes. Will I still make sure the majority of the time I have a realistic approach and not feel guilty later? Yes. Will I make sure to say THANK YOU to someone who shared something from their kitchen or someone else’s? Definitely.

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