“Tis the Season – Keeping it Real” (photo by Veronica Sherman)
Christmas can be a stressful time of the year. There’s the pressure of finding the perfect presents for everyone, the house has to look neat and Christmassy because the relatives coming, there’s work parties and school breakups and swimming parties and graduations and BBQs and family get-togethers and Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years to prepare for… And if you have special dietary needs in the family, things only gets crazier because you also have HEAPS of cooking to do so your family can enjoy special treats like everyone else!!
Does it really have to be this way? So crazy and stressful?
Christmas really should be a time to relax, reflect, slow down, have fun, and take a step back from the craziness of the year. Ok, sometimes I have to work right up to Christmas (like this year – that’s what happens when your cookbook goes to print in January!), and yes I do have to cook for special diets… but we still manage to have a relaxing Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and the few days til New Years’ are super chilled. I love it.
We don’t go crazy with the decorating or hosting Christmas parties, and my Christmas cooking is pretty simple (we share the cooking amongst family and friends). It’s too hot in Far North Queensland at Christmas time to fuss too much – we’d rather go swimming. And I grew up with the idea that the happiest Christmases are those spent with loved ones, making awesome memories, and is not dependant on what is under the Christmas tree.
Our favourite pastime during the Christmas holidays – swimming at the lake!
Some of my happiest memories of Christmas from my childhood are:
Cooking with my mum and sister
As we got older and started our own families, my favourite part of Christmas became getting the family all back together again at Grandma’s house, and cooking in the kitchen with my mum and sisters. There’s nothing better than a kitchen crowded with family – cooking, laughing and telling stories; the kids running in and out, playing cricket and having water fights outside.
Think back to your favourite Christmases. What made them so special? Lots of expensive presents, perfect table settings, fancy decorations and gourmet dinners? Probably not. It was more likely the fun of catching up with friends and family you rarely saw; twinkling lights; favourite dishes your mum or dad or Grandparents made; a noisy, happy family meal with lots of silliness; camping trips and swimming (if you’re in Australia!)… things like that. Good memories are made by being with the people you love. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
I asked on my Facebook page for your tips to make Christmas stress-free and simple, so here’s some ideas along with my own best tips!
My mum carving up the roast turkey. A big platter with plenty of roast veggies looks amazing!
A gift from friends this year – freshly picked produce from their organic garden, free range eggs, home dried fruit and herbs, and homemade herb salt. So special.
I wish you all a happy, relaxed, holiday season, and I hope this Christmas will always be looked back on as a beautiful one for your family.