I love everything about this time of year. The cheery, anticipatory atmosphere in the workplace. The decorative Starbucks cups. The traditional homemade foods. The gathering of family near and far. The feast. I love it all.
That whole feast part? Love it. What I don’t love? Preparing for that feast. Each time Thanksgiving or Christmas rolls around, I’m asked to bring bread, ice, and sweet tea. Why? Because you can’t screw that stuff up – especially when you get the Publix sweet tea.
As it goes in Western culture, we like to compete. A few years into continuously being the bread-and-ice-bearer, I wanted to venture out and be the admired head chef. I wanted to wow all of my family members and make grandmama, mom, and sisters shake in their aprons. So I did what every non-chef would do. I chose to make my mom’s world renown apple pie – perhaps the most intimidating recipe of all time – from scratch.
I’m not going to finish this anecdote because you already know how it ends. With a crust like play-dough, an apple filling as runny as a faucet, and the presentation with the craftsmanship of a four-year-old. But before I threw in my apron for good, I desperately Googled different ways to save my pie. Lo and behold, if I just added this, that, the other, I could have made an exquisite apple pie.
It’s amazing what a few additions can do to change the whole recipe.
If you’re like most, a failed pie isn’t the only thing that threatens a peaceful holiday. And while a few additions might not be able to alter the entire festive recipe, some of my suggestions might add a touch of savory to an otherwise tart break.
While we all wish we could avoid it, strife with family is something that comes with most holiday territory. Whatever hornet’s nest you may be walking into this holiday season, my advice is add tinsel. A touch of tinsel is traditionally used to illuminate the tree lights so that the tree shines even brighter than before. By adding tinsel to family situations this holiday, you are intentionally choosing to let your best, most bright qualities shine through. Wherever you shine, try your best to hone in on those qualities as much as possible…especially when it comes to the places that need it the most. Let your tinsel light up the places that need sparkle, whether it is a difficult family member, an uncomfortable situation, or an irritating schedule.
Rather than indulging in the political debate or voicing your harsh opinion about the overcooked ham, hold your tongue this time around. You can also add tinsel by utilizing your positive qualities and putting your energy there. If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, throw on some oven mitts and help out. Maybe you have the ability to alleviate tension between people. If so, consider yourself the peacemaker this holiday and follow around that family member that seems to take the Christ right out of Christmas. If you’re the only one who can talk to great-aunt Cheryl without your eyes rolling in the back of your head, find a cozy spot on the couch and strike up a conversation. Whatever you do, choose to add tinsel. Don’t dull the sparkle.
Pinterest and Instagram have cursed our holidays in more ways than one. With every scroll, it seems there are more ways to upgrade or embellish our holidays. Through elaborate decoration, designer gifts, or to-die-for-vacations, we can feel content and pleased. One look at the new holiday inventory in J Crew or a side glance at the window display in Pottery Barn, and it seems we are one credit card away from true contentment. (Just me?….oh…)
While these things CAN and DO provide joy, they don’t provide lasting satisfaction. If you want to create lasting contentment in your holidays, put down the credit card, and add candles. Red ones, purple ones, white ones, whatever color. Just light them. In the early ages, the candle represented the star of Bethlehem. It proclaimed the coming of a Savior. One who is able to lead us all out of darkness. With a few candles lit, you can be reminded of something bigger than your money.
What does standing in line, small talk, and plain OJ have in common?
They all need champagne.
And they are all things we frequently encounter during the holidays. I am convinced that no matter the situation, a little bit of champagne will help. Stressful work day? Add champagne. Long shopping list? Add champagne. Boring Christmas party? Add champagne. A present that needs an extra touch? Add champagne.
Just don’t commit to a whole bottle. Small doses, people. Trust me.
One final thing, friends.
“…Now pucker up and kiss it, Whoville” – a shameless quote for all Grinch lovers out there. I simply couldn’t resist. But while I’m here, I might as well run with it. Is it just me, or do we all have people every single holiday season that try to steal our happy? Without fail, there is someone whose drama threatens my peace, whose insecurity terrorizes my joy, and whose pettiness tries to wreak havoc on my security. This year, I’m giving you permission to add mistletoe and tell them to KISS IT, Whoville. Nobody has the right to steal your joy, and unfortunately, we are the ones who give them the permission most of the time. By adding mistletoe, you put the naysayers completely behind you. You focus on the fun, lighthearted cheer that fills your festive tank – not the Scrooge negativity.
Besides, nothing adds some spark and excitement to the holidays like a good old-fashioned kissing game.
So the next time you feel your apple pie is ruined…or your family stress heightened…or your money, tight…or your drink, flat…or your people, petty… add these few ingredients. I think you’ll find your holiday can be salvaged. Maybe even enjoyed.
And remember, when all else fails, add champagne.