Hailpulling or Joyous- You Decide.
by Holly Anthony
Holidays are approaching so fast! Somehow, the year ramps up from 60mph normal to about 90mph around October, right?
Maybe it’s just our family. I’ve found a few things that help me mentally prepare for the onslaught of expectations, activities, desires, and food. Because, for our family, it really is all about what we do around the food.
What is important to you and your family? Is it a weekend full of traditions, a fancy table with homemade delicacies, a fireplace roaring with fragrant wood? Or are you more of a gather around wherever fuzzy blankets are, jammies preferred attire, and toss a frozen lasagna/pizza in the oven family? The beauty of some pre-thought a week or two before means you can prioritize what you want out of the holiday and let go of the stress of achieving the other “stuff”.
I get my kids’ favorite food requests and we build the menu from there. Homemade pumpkin pie for my second oldest, and she wants to help make it! Great, so the other desserts will probably be frozen cobbler or pie (bought with coupons/Ibotta rebates, so I’m also saving money!) My oldest requests my famous yeast rolls and I want homemade stuffing, so the potatoes are going to be 30 minute instant pot potatoes and we’ll probably have canned yams and canned cranberry sauce. Some of y’all are probably laughing. Maybe for your family it’s ALL premade and from a box/can, and that’s ok!! You already know what you want and what works for you, so what do you want to prioritize? What can you purchase early and have ready in a crate in the garage? Maybe you want to downsize from a whole turkey to a turkey breast? Or go with a rotisserie chicken or small ham steak, if turkey’s not your thing and you don’t want leftovers! While you’re planning, look at what you can make ahead of time and have prepped in disposable pans in the fridge a day or two before. Also, purchase convenient suppers, either premade or simple 4-5 ingredient crockpot ori nstant pot meals for the busy days you’re prepping for the holidays.
What about those expectations?
Whose expectations are they? Maybe external family members, in-laws, maybe your own. Do you think you HAVE to be three places on the holiday? Are you hosting and think things have to be PERFECT? One of the most helpful things I gave myself permission to do (after many years of marriage and several kiddos), was to say, “Sorry, we can’t commit to the actual day with everyone, what day works for you to get together?” And go from there. Maybe it meant several days of celebrating, but it also meant real quality together time at the place(s) when we were there. Maybe it meant cutting down from 3 or 4 celebrations to one or two, because that’s what we could handle.
It’s okay to whittle down to what works for your energy/expenditure and really making those events special instead of overextending yourself and having to be stressed to the hairline. For those times that you’re hosting, what can you do to get on top of the responsibility? Can you outsource the cleaning or other tasks? Look into a local group or reach out to friends and see if anyone can recommend a great housekeeper to come in that week and deep clean for you. Or maybe cleaning is your thing and food isn’t. If you’re hosting, maybe you can delegate most of the food to your guests!? If that’s not an option, check your local grocery stores and price out what you can afford them to handle, and you might even be able to get delivery! Or, many items you can prepare ahead and freeze, or store in the fridge to warm up that day. Don’t forget disposable plates/etc! You can get compostable/recyclable options and what a stress reliever to be able to quickly clean up then go focus on time together.
It is always okay to say “No, our family is doing X thing X way this year, thank you for understanding.”
Your immediate family unit is one of the most special gifts you have and you deserve to preserve your peace and sanity, so this time of year can be recharging and joyous! I like to incorporate my kiddos into all the special food preparations, or decoration making, etc. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that means a bit more stress and time…but what is more precious than making memories with them? And don’t forget to be in a picture or three this year, even if you’ve got to use selfie mode. You’ll be so glad you did.
Prayers for a wonderful holiday season!