Oh my gosh. Like it or not, here they come.
I used to be all “SANTA! I KNOW HIM! I KNOW HIM!!!” But now I’m more like…of the panic attack persuasion.
Things change when you’re an adult and adult things happen to you. And you’re outnumbered by your kids and one of ’em has a birthday the day after New Years’.
And oh yeah. When another one has autism and a host of sensory issues and is basically allergic to food.
So every year, I start planning a few weeks earlier than I did the year before. This year, I started gathering ideas in October. Fingers crossed, people. This year, we’re gonna rock the holidays’ socks off.
I wound up hosting both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, which, astonishingly, I prefer. With William’s food allergies, I like to be able to control what’s on the table, what utensils are where, and I know nothing has been touched by even a speck of flour. As complicated and expensive as it is, it’s worth it to see him digging into any pie he wants, because they’re all 100% safe for him, and no one else realizes it because they’re *good.*
But I like to think that I hold more things dear than just food (maybe?), so here’s a list of my holiday goals for 2015. I’ll post updates and let you know how this is going. 🙂
- The Nativity Fast and praying the Hours. I’m Orthodox, so we fast from oil, wine, and animal products, and instead of the “hustle and bustle,” we devote ourselves to quiet work and prayer. It prepares the soul over a 40-day period to receive the feast of the Nativity in a peaceful, centered way. My hope is that this governs my other goals. One of the ways I hope to focus my effort is by praying the 9:00 am Hour with my kids. It’s really a very short series of prayers, so it should, of course, be nearly impossible to accomplish.
- An allergen-free, slightly minimal Thanksgiving feast. Over the years, I’ve learned that allergy-free cooking and baking is pretty high maintenance. It requires weird, expensive ingredients or ten extra steps to make the ingredients yourself, and it inevitably asks for weird measurements (1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tbsp…what the crap is that? And do you know how much extra mind power it requires for me to halve that?! There’s not much left of mama’s brain, folks). So expecting the same amount of items on the spread that I’d normally expect of myself suddenly becomes wildly unrealistic. So. As it stands, the menu is thus:
- Gluten-free, no-additives or preservatives turkey. I’m soaking it in a killer brine (thank you, Ms. Martha Stewart) and my turkey-pro husband’s taking it from there.
- Mashed potatoes. This has no recipe, because that’s just kinda how I do things. I know it’s going to involve hot smushy potatoes rustically crushed up with coconut milk, ghee, salt, and maybe some basil and/or parsley.
- Turkey gravy. That’s Martha Stewart helping me out again, but I’ll be replacing items like unsalted butter with more allergy-friendly ones like ghee. Not sure what I’m doing to replace the white wine. Any suggestions?
- Roasted green beans. I know roasting basic green beans in a 375 oven with nothing but olive oil and salt sounds basic, but they are a literal miracle. My whole family loves them, and we’re eating them for Thanksgiving even though we eat them all the freaking time because they are THAT GOOD.
- Salad. Oh I know all of ya’ll hate me for that, but I feel better about myself if there’s salad on my plate.
- Apple pie. Because I am armed with Grandma’s recipe and a killer flour that makes very good crust and cookies (what it does not do in the golden-brown department is completely made up for in fantastic taste and texture, and as GF flours go, the price is not bad).
- Pumpkin pie. Because, duh. I use regular pureed pumpkin, replace eggs with Ener-G egg replacer, replace condensed milk with coconut milk (the heavier it is, the creamier it is–but you have to be able to tolerate the coconut flavor infusion. If this bothers you, as it does me, I use this product by SO Delicious, which is much lighter). For the crust, I use ghee and my Namaste flour. And if you’re feeling adventurous, I get a full-fat can of coconut milk and whip it up with confectioner’s sugar for an allergy-friendly whipped cream. I like to add a splash of pure maple syrup to add a little more depth of flavor.
I’ll let you know how that turns out. 🙂
- Clean house. Last week and this week, I’ve been gutting the closets and busting up all the little piles that are always, always everywhere. I figure I can’t decorate a dirty, badly-arranged house I hate looking at.
- Creative, minimal presents. We had an unexpected expense with the van last month, and it basically killed any present-buying budget we might’ve had. Before you think I’m complaining, this actually doesn’t bother me at all. I still consider our family wealthy when I look at the poverty that exists around the globe. And as a firm believer in the ability to make something special out of nothing, I’ve made plans to write personalized stories for the kids. And for friends (spoiler alert!) I have started making the most adorable little notebooks out of the insides of cereal boxes, cardstock, yarn, and spare buttons. Like, check it. There ain’t no shame. This was 100% free.
- Decorations that are bright, few, and made together with the kids. Um, again, I’ll let you know how that turns out. We have lights, ribbon, brown packing paper, and tons of drama. So obviously this is going to be perfect.
- Time spent on gifts for others. While I sew up these notebooks and work up these little clay dishes, I want my kids to make lists of their closest family and friends and think–really think–about them. What would they like? What can we do for them that would be meaningful to them?
- Baking Days. I plan to do one the day before Thanksgiving, when I’ll be making pies, and one the week of the feast of St. Nicholas. My little aspiring chef here promises she’ll be amazing. I believe her! 🙂
We’ll see how this goes, right, folks?
A blessed Nativity fast to you all.