The holidays bring glitz and glam. A season where it is finally okay to dawn those glittery shoes and the fabulous dress you purchased last year, but haven’t gotten to wear yet. There is no doubt that it can be a wonderful season of magic and wonder filled with tradition, laughter, and general merriment. Or at least that is what they say it should be. If you are asking me though, the holiday’s bring more stress then glow. During this time of supposed holiday bliss, the constant pursuit of visible perfection can be too much to take. Pick the perfect dress, be the perfect host, the perfect guest, get the perfect, thoroughly thoughtful gift for everyone, prepare the perfect food, the perfect house, the perfect…everything to everyone all the while looking great, staying healthy and, in this day an age, capturing the perfectly filtered instagram photo to show off all of this perfection. As a woman, this pursuit is sometimes a daily occurrence where we shove aside our own wants in pursuit of someone else’s happiness. During the holidays, it’s even easier to fall into this trap. And it is a trap. YOU CANNOT MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY…and that’s okay. This isn’t a post about what you should do to eat healthy during the holidays or how to say no to the extra dinner roll, this post is about giving yourself a break.
You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t even need to be close to perfect, and more then anything you don’t need to answer to anyone about what you do and don’t do. You see, I have this problem. I have a hard time not going overboard on everything, trying to make everything as perfect as possible while trying to anticipate all possible issues that could derail that goal. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s too much pressure and has me looking to whatever I can find to sooth that stress. This pressure builds into a less then optimal person. So even though the roast is perfectly cooked, the house is clean, tree adorned and house decorated with whatever trending Christmas style, I am too stressed, on edge and short tempered to enjoy it. The worst part is that those people that I am trying so hard to please, don’t get to enjoy me.
The holidays are about one thing…spending time with the one’s you love. I know its one of those easy to say, hard to do kind of things, but it’s the truth. So this is my goal for this holiday season, and my generally tied too tight personality will make this extremely difficult, but I want to give those that I love more of me. Not of my cooking or the Martha Stewart inspired wrapped packages, but more of me. More time with my family and friends, which means not cooking five course meals every time we have someone over, and means small gifts so that I can spend less time at the mall and more time with my husband, enjoying the snow and the outdoors. It means not stressing over every single outfit and trying to get everything done. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the dressing up and decorating (Lord knows I love both of those things), but try to do it in a way that make you happy, not because you feel like you have to. Maybe the house won’t be perfect some days, or maybe the decorations go up a few days after Thanksgiving. Whatever it is I want to focus on what matters and not pressure myself with a bunch of societal norms that most people don’t honestly care about. I don’t know what you struggle with but maybe instead of a New Years resolution, try a holiday resolution, to spend more time with the one’s you love, and less at the mall, cleaning, and trying to be perfect all the time. I know for a fact I will stress myself out this season, and I know for a fact that I will fall to food and then that spiral may began, but I am going to try to remember that my family doesn’t love me for my perfect turkey roast, or clean house, and they don’t stop loving me because I ate too many Christmas cookies. They love me for me and I promise to give them more of that this year.
Part of that is making simpler food that is healthy. Foods I can enjoy without guilt and are easy to prepare quickly. No crazy ingredients or difficult techniques. This is one of those desserts for me. I always have phyllo dough in the freezer ready. I serve it a lot when my husband has coworkers over for dinner or if I am going somewhere and asked to bring dessert. You can basically convert this to whatever fruits or puree you have around the house. The fillings take a few easy steps and then just roll them up, bake and go. Also, if you don’t have time to cook down your apples, then cut them smaller, mix the same ingredients, and roll up. Cooking them down does intensify the flavor, but they will still be delicious, especially if it means spending an extra 30 minutes with your significant other. These are easy, delicious, and loved by all, and our dirty little secret? Only one point per roll up. So feel confident this holiday season, not because everything is perfect, but because you are you and your family and friends love you for that.
As always, happy feasting, but this time, feast on time with your family and friends and less on making sure your feast looks perfect.
PS: A huge thank you to my mother-in-law who allowed me to invade her kitchen over the Thanksgiving holiday week to take these photos.