Essay,  Food,  Holidays

Home for the holidays

Home for the holidays, as in “staying” not “going”, “making” not “buying”, “planning” not “head-spinning”…The year of the pandemic brings on a different kind of Christmas and a deeply personal story. Call it looking for a silver lining, perhaps, but this is the celebration of the handmade, the slow, and the meaningful. The celebration of small measures, imperfection, joy of finishing a project started few months ago, or another two weeks ago. Brings the memories of collecting color tin candy wrappers all year long with my Grandmother to wrap large walnuts to hang on a Christmas tree on December 24th. The memories of cutting straw and delicate tissue paper for simple but stunning garlands, which are still stored somewhere in my parents attic. Tastes change, and then change again, until they are distilled into something that truly matters, deep inside you, that you finally had the courage to uncover.

This is how I feel about my decorating vignettes this year. The small woodland-like scenes that are within eyes and arms reach, and delight with every day barely noticeable changes. I remember reading Dan Pearson’s book “Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City” over the summer where he mentions always gathering a little posy of flowers to be admired at close range, and how transformative that is. The details and the fleeting moments, the mood and the inspiration…

This year’s baking was not any different than the decorating. Only my favorites, some dusted off after 20 plus years, thinking they were too difficult to make all this time. They were not. As long as you let the perfection go, and aim for authentic, instead. The wabi-sabi meringue and red currant jam cookies were a thrill to make. Nothing beats the taste and natural ruby color of those red currants we picked in unbearably hot weather back in July, knowing they would be like gems in December.

The chocolate cookies were upgraded this year with a brandied fruit center. Brandied fruit had to be made at least 2 weeks ahead in jars turned upside down every day. What a ritual for slow living, I thought. In the end, it’s the homemade chocolate glaze that steels the show though, in the photo at least, mostly because it brings joy.

Wishing you all joy of the little things this Christmas.

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