‘Tis the season to be jolly…and mainly in two or three places: a shopping center, a kitchen, or hunkered down in a room of people to gather for the holidays. It’s Christmas Day today, but yesterday, people were congested into various boutiques and grocers for last minute items outside, while others are slaving away in the kitchen to test out recipes and complete feasts or binge-watch Christmas movies and drink hot cocoa by the fire. It appears that the holidays either instigated others to mold themselves with the couch in their living rooms or run around like ants in a food shortage.
When I was much younger, the holidays were my favorite time of the year. My family and I got to travel abroad very often–my favorite trips included Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Tokyo, and recently Maui–hence we hardly ever enjoy traditional Christmas dinners where each family member contributes a different dish such as a casserole, mashed potatoes, turkey, pies, and so forth. Our feasts are often very simple, homemade dishes or we eat at a restaurant (typically Asian, to be honest). We celebrated Christmas early one year and I ended up cooking my own dishes to ensure my vegan options were plentiful and satisfying. However, I did not do so this year. In fact, I felt quite contrite because of it.
Having said that, I realized that this guilt was a bit pointless. Sometimes you don’t have to cook anything during the holidays and just open yourself to whatever comes to you. I chose to contribute my energy into dissecting the layers of some of my relationships with my family, truly being present, and enjoying others aspects of Christmas that were non-food related, including going on a solo date around Los Angeles, a long sunny hike, laughing with my friends and family, and then learning more about my grandmother’s past by the fire. My family whipped up all the ingredients for the hot pot spread while I assembled some tofu and sauteed mushrooms, but nothing that mandated too much time and effort.
Don’t interpret this wrongly–it is phenomenal and splendidly fun to serve as the head chef (and baker!) during the holidays. After all, there is nothing more therapeutic and fulfilling when you ace an entire plethora of yummy holiday recipes that everyone will adore, such as my killer sweet potato fries and my vegan cookies for the Food Science club. Having said that, the holidays are much more multi-faceted than a phenomenal array of food. The holidays aren’t necessarily this magical time of the year where everything is more miraculous than any regular way. I can pull off a Michelin star worthy dish on any day of the year. This time, the focus is simply centered more closely on other activities that bring joy without stressing myself out too excessively.
Hope you enjoyed this somewhat brief recap of how I spent the holidays! I still recommend that you check out some fabulous recipes that are suitable for the holidays. Even if you already have all your dishes lined up, save them for any other occasion or day that ends with “y”. It’s totally up to you!
How will you spend the holidays this year?