It's December. Holy heck, how? How is it already December?
Ready or not, (in my world, definitely NOT!) the holidays are here. And, I don't know about you, but I'm SO not ready!
I'm usually WAY more on top of things, but not this year.
My neighbors are already hanging Christmas lights, there are decorations in the stores, Christmas carols are being played on the radio, and my inbox is literally overflowing with emails all about pre-holiday discounts and "must have" gifts.
In my house, no Christmas cards have been ordered yet. I went down the rabbit hole of trying to find a decent pic of all of us and 3 hours later I got nuthin' --- and, honestly, after an hour of hunting, I took a sharp left detour and spent the other 2 hours scrolling through old pics from when the kiddos were super little.
Have you ever done that?
I felt a little like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation....only I was in my kitchen, not an attic. And I didn't have to scavenge for knit hats to keep warm.
And, I most definitely haven't even begun to THINK about what I'm getting everyone on my list.
And, that's ok.
I say, this year instead of trying to plan the perfect holiday (I'm not even exactly sure what that means......pretty certain even Norman Rockwell had his off days) we choose a different path and plan the perfectly imperfect holiday.
Plan the holidays around what YOU want to do.
Whether that means making batches of cookies, enjoying a cup of coffee in front of a roaring fire, or making prime rib instead of turkey (yep, I went there.....who says you have to cook a turkey if you don't want to)
I actually had an entirely different blog post for today.
I was planning on giving you loads of tips on how to plan for the holidays, ideas for menus and some new recipes. And I promise I WILL write future blog posts ALL about those things. But, as I started writing that blog post, my brain started racing through all the things I need to do that I haven't even begun. And I could feel myself starting to stress about not having enough time to get it all done.
Which got me thinking.
I need to take a step......maybe several steps.....back and remember what the holidays are truly all about. In the chaos of shopping, cooking, decorating, baking, meltdowns (mine AND the kids), and everything else that piles on over the holidays, the true meaning of the holiday season often gets pushed aside.
And it's truly not about presents, Christmas cards (although, it is reeeeaaaallly nice to get something other than bills in the mailbox!), and decorations. It's about creating memories with loved ones, cherishing those around us, slowing down, taking a breath, enjoying good food, and taking it all in (without wishing it was over already).
So, this year let's plan the perfectly imperfect holiday -- a holiday where we focus on making memories and relishing each moment.
When I chat with my kiddos about what their favorite Christmas memories are, they never talk about specific gifts they've received. And they DEFINITELY don't mention all the attempts at the "perfect" photo for our Christmas card.
They remember the spontaneous ski trip, their Dad laying in the snow, literally freezing his bum off, as he cuts down our Christmas tree (not sure how high this memory ranks with the hubs, though), every year driving through this one local neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights and decorations, and our annual tradition of hanging out in our pjs eating cookies and watching Elf and The Polar Express.
They remember the moments.
And those are the memories that mean the most to them.
And, I'm pretty darn sure no one remembers what I cooked last year. But they DO remember sitting around the table, long after the candles have burned out, telling (and retelling) stories, laughing and sharing time together.
And that, my friend, is truly what the holidays are all about. There are moments to be made regardless of what holiday you celebrate.
What about you? What are the moments that stand out for you from past holidays?
So this is me, telling you (and telling myself!), it's ok.
The stockings WILL get hung,
the cards WILL get ordered (or not, because it's ok not to send out cards -- I have several friends who send New Year's cards which I think is BRILLIANT),
and you WILL figure out what to get for everyone on your list.
This year let's ALL make a pact to spend the holidays in our own way, to make the holidays what we want them to be and not feel we have to follow anyone else's path but our own.
Plan on taking time each day this holiday season and enjoy the little things. Take a stroll one night to look at all the Christmas lights, spontaneously invite friends over for egg nog (and don't worry about what your house looks like, because, I promise you, your friends won't care), spend a day making cookies with your kids (and be sure phones are turned off). Yep, turn it off. Unplug, put on your favorite holiday playlist, and maybe even dance around the kitchen a bit while the cookies are baking.
Focus on making memories, not taking pictures, or worrying about making everything perfect. Focus on the moment, be IN the moment, because these moments are fleeting. And, at the end of it all, the memories are what remain.
I'll be writing more in future blog posts about how to plan the perfectly imperfect holiday.
In the meantime, what's the first thing you're going to do to get started on your perfectly imperfect holiday?
I'm going to go tell Alexa to play some Christmas carols, and make these chocolate chip pumpkin muffins.
If you're all in for planning the perfectly imperfect holiday, let me know in the comments!
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 2/3 cup butter (10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) (if you like using a scale it's 151.2 grams)
- 4 eggs
- One 15 ounce can organic pumpkin (I am a HUGE fan of Trader Joe's)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup (or more, depending on how chocolatey you want them!) chocolate chips
Grease muffin tin generously with butter. If you want to be extra decadent, after greasing muffin tin sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. It adds a really wonderful sugary crunch to the outside of the muffins. You can also use demera sugar for a sugary outer crunch.
Beat sugar, butter and eggs together. Add pumpkin and blend until pumpkin is fully incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until all the ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the muffins to check if they’re done. It should come out completely clean.
Cool the muffins in their tin on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes.
Turn them out onto the cooling rack and continue to cool.
I love eating them spread with a bit of good Irish butter and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt, but however you eat them, trust me, this will disappear quickly!