A past photo from "up north".
As the holidays fast approach, I realized that I have to "get down to business" - and I know........this is a strange year and more and more mandates are being put into place but I'm determined to still "do" the holidays this year!!!!! That is ONE thing that they cannot mandate. Whether we are by ourselves or with just one or two people, we can still make it special. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the many blessings we've received throughout the year - we can do that. And Christmas is about the birth of our Savior Jesus and we can celebrate that too. I sat down a couple of days ago and wrote some ideas down and wanted to share them with you as well. So here it goes! : )
I apologize ahead of time for not having any photos this week about anything that I've read or cooked or baked, etc. - I don't have a fancy phone that has a camera so I don't have that capability and I don't carry my regular camera around with me all day, so it's not until after the fact that I remember that I didn't take photos. So, I'm sorry about that. I know, personally, I love photos along with what I'm reading so I'll try to get better at that.
One of my favorite vintage cookbooks has such excellent ideas on various ways of celebrating life. I thought one of the ideas would be great for all of you who are homeschooling right now. And I may have suggested this before but it's great to bring up now for the holiday season and the upcoming winter months. And that is to have theme nights for cooking different meals - "around the world" menus where you, as a family, (or just you!) to choose a different part of the world and do some research on what they cook and eat and try different recipes to replicate that. Ideas would include - Italy, Spain, England, France, Middle East, etc., or even just different areas of our own country such as the New England area, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, etc. - such a fun way to learn! With this you can:
*Treat yourself if you live alone - I think now, more than ever, we have to keep our minds and bodies occupied and keep learning - let it be enjoyable and fun.
*Invite someone over (safely) and share in the fun together - maybe you (or they) have family recipes that have been passed down from "the old country" and you can learn together.
*Fortunately, some of us have the ability to "meet" with others via on-line - you can each cook something separately and then have a time where you can have your meals "together" and chat.
*Take your meal to someone and explain what you've been doing and maybe include a little write-up on what country you've been cooking from and the recipe so that they can make it too. I know "they" are saying that we shouldn't be cooking for others so I'm just assuming that we will all do the right thing and in the end it's kind of up to the person you will be giving the meal to. If they are okay with it (and they probably would appreciate it) then do it!!!
Let this be fun. Get really creative. Take notes - perhaps a scrapbook of everything you've learned - what a great thing to have and look at in years to come. Right now it is SO important that we make the best of things. FORTITUDE is our word for the year!
The next idea is to make the most out of winter. I think we tend to hold up in our houses and, like an animal in hibernation, we come out in the spring! But fresh air is so healthy and we need to keep our bodies moving - I know that's easier said than done. Around here in the thick of winter it can get down to double digits below zero so, of course, we need to be cautious. But right now when it's not all that bad yet, let's get out. One of the ideas in the cookbook was to go for a winter hike - and then come back to a winter meal of a great warming soup with crackers and cheese, relishes, and a favorite pie for dessert. A crockpot is excellent for this - it can be holding your warm soup and be all ready for you when you get back.
Or, have a movie night. Make it a special night at home! Set a specific time for the movie to begin (just like in the theater) and either plan on eating before the movie begins or wait until after (which is kind of fun and special and something out of the ordinary). Make sure to make popcorn for the movie and have sodas (for a treat). If you eat before the movie, make sure you have a special dessert waiting for when it's done. Remember the times of going out to a movie (when they actually made good movies) and then going out for pie afterwards? You can emulate that in your home. If you have children or grandchildren, this could really be a fun and special night.
This goes for game night. Plan a special meal - or just have a whole bunch of munchies and fun beverages. Or, how about putting a puzzle out for everyone (or just you!) to work on?
The whole idea is to make the most out of what we have now. And women, we are the ones that make things happen in our homes. We are the ones that need to come up with the ideas and carry them through. Yes, I know, we tend to wish that everyone else would help us but sometimes that is not the case and we don't want to not do anything! This time really can be looked back at being very memorable. I've been doing a LOT of reading about how people made it through the Depression years and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, they've said that though it was extremely difficult, the memories they have of making do and being okay will always be with them. The lessons they learned were lifelong and it was usually because of all the women who got up and just did what they had to do and to do with very little yet kept life vibrant. So! Let's do it! : )
The next idea is to bring brunches back if it's something you don't normally do. These are excellent for the weekends. On Saturdays when we all tend to be a bit slower in getting ready for the day, or Sundays after coming home from church. I believe in making the weekends a bit different from the rest of the week. I think we need a couple of days that look different than the work days so that by the time Monday rolls around you will feel like you have a had a break from the routine. Make sure that this is special too - make it pretty by bringing out the tablecloth, napkins, teapot or coffeepot, and flowers. Again, if you have kids they will love this. And, yes, kids can be taught how to be careful and respectful of nice things!!!!! Maybe this would be a great opportunity to help them learn these things. You don't have to be strict and stoic. If you're on your own, still make it special. Or invite a friend. Or, again, plan an on-line meeting with someone.
And how about that daily coffee break during the week? A lot of people work from home now (and homemakers always do!) and we can still do what we can about taking a break from our work if only for 15 minutes or so. Maybe this isn't feasible every day, but always have things ready so that when you feel you need a break, you can do it up nicely. Have a variety of tea or coffee on hand, make some cinnamon toast to go with it, or have sweet treats in the freezer that you can take one out ahead of time to thaw, or even some fresh cut-up fruit. Take the time to get up from what you're doing, physically go into the kitchen and prepare this little treat and go and sit somewhere that you normally don't sit and enjoy this tiny amount of time in your day.
I know there aren't a lot of parties this year but if you have a family that you still have under your roof or family that you know you can get together with safely (or, of course, a friend or two), make sure that you plan some parties. Only you can make that determination and others will have to as well. But keeping some things "normal" is vitally important right now. Again, if you have children or grandchildren around this time is tough on them and they look to Mom and Dad and/or Grandma and Grandpa to provide some kind of normal. So my suggestions are:
*a costume party - have them play dress up - choose a (once again) theme, have them make the decorations, cook/bake together. With the theme can come research on what person they are dressing up to be, etc.
*birthdays - again, get creative - or maybe this year maintaining traditions would be important.
*Christmas party - go all out! Schools were already ending traditional Christmas parties so YOU be the one to bring it back! : ) Spend time cutting out snowflakes and hang them up all over. Make Christmas cards to give. Play games. Play Christmas music and if you are a singing family, sing! Make/bake special treats. Try to do this with the least amount of money. Let it be a Christmas to remember.
*Look forward and plan ahead for New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Snow days.........write down all the ideas you can think of so that when the time comes you'll be ready!
In my opinion, I think one of the reasons this year has been so difficult for all of us is that we've been so used to doing things and getting things whenever we wanted and this all feels like we're being forced into doing without. And we don't like that. It HAS been a lonely time but if we work at it (and it DOES take work) it can be as good as it can be under such circumstances. And, I know I'm repeating myself, but it just takes time and planning ahead. It will just be different. Again, that's why I like reading about hardships of the past and how they made do with very little. We can do that too! I encourage you in this. It's good to remember that we're not alone in this - everyone is affected. So reach out where you can and do your best.
We're in the season of giving thanks and giving to others. Nothing dispels loneliness like doing for others and once you begin, it's addicting. You'll constantly be on the lookout for what you can do. Remember your neighbors and communities:
*give to the food shelves
*leave a little something at someone's door (be a secret Santa)
*again, keep your eyes and ears open for needs that you can meet
Keep your home up. Stay tidy and clean and organized. Keep up your appearances (it really does help into making you feel better).
Continue to make Sundays special. If you can't or aren't able to go to church right now, watch a service on-line or listen to a radio church service. Have a special meal afterwards. After you clean up from your meal, sit in a comfy chair with some soft music in the background and read a good book or grab something to work on while listening to an audio book. Rest/nap. Write a letter. Call someone. Take a long, soaking bath. Bake something. Do a little food prep for the upcoming week.
If you have a difficult time being alone, never assume that you are the only one. Don't be afraid to ask someone to get together with you at some point. Even a daily phone call will work. If you have a church, ask the office if they know of others that are alone and reach out to them. Maybe just getting together one-on-one for a coffee once in a while is all you need. I think a lot of us suffer in silence because we feel we don't want to bother anyone but that shouldn't be. Let's make an effort this year - you could be the one that will be of great help to someone else!
One idea for Christmas that I thought about this past week was if you do find yourself alone for Christmas, how about "getting together" with someone else in that you both agree to send each other care packages/gifts (all wrapped) and then either call each other or have Facetime on-line on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Have a nice tea and dessert together and spend time unwrapping the gifts you've sent to each other so that you can talk and laugh together. I know it's not the same as actually being in someone else's home or having them in yours but I think it's better than nothing! Again, being creative and thinking outside the box this year is key.
How about you? Do you have any ideas for the holidays that will be different? If we can all pull together and give each other ideas that will be of great help.
Well, I had better end this post. I hope this has been of some help to you. I enjoyed writing it. : ) Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read what little I have to offer. God bless you and your weekend!