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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas crazy making: JUST SAY NO

Last year I so overdid it with Christmas baking that I said to Sandi, "Please don't let me do that again next year." She replied, "Well, I will try but when you want to do something there isn't much stopping you."

Strong point.

It had gotten really out of hand, though, and last year  I compiled tins with 8 or so different baked items and gave them out to 25 or so people.  I spent most of December in the kitchen and baking went from a creative outlet and slipped over into light insanity.   I'm not sure where the fine line is between adding peanut butter cups to your annual holiday repertoire and feeling all but chained to your kitchen but I decided that I had no business baking like that until I could figure it out.

So last December I actually set an alert in this year's calendar, a whole 12 months away,  NOT to bake for the holidays. I even wrote pretty please, no holiday baking on the alert.

When my phone chirped the remainder sent from a sane, post holiday version of myself, I laughed and noted that there was no resistance on my part.  I did not even want to bake.

Then I got an email from my Trek Across Maine team captain about the fundraising bake sale in early  December to raise money for the pricey cycle jersey for our team.

OH NO!!!!!

I had to laugh at the irony of this.  Was the universe testing me?  Was I supposed to say no or figure out how to be more moderate?  I told her I would think about it, that I had promised myself I wouldn't bake...and then she told me that my granola bars had been one of the first things to sell last year.  (After all this bake sale is held at the gym.)  That did it.

I knew granola bars held less potential for insanity for me than say, triple chocolate cookies, and so I said I would do it.  Then I remembered all the vanilla cake scraps I had in gallon bags in the freezer from trimming the wedding cake I made this fall.  I could make cake pops - which I do not like- and fulfill a creative need with minimal temptation.

Have you ever made cake pops?  They are kind of fun and have a lot of space for playing around.

(The short story on how to make a cake pops: take cake scraps- or cook a cake and cool it- crumble it up and mix it with frosting.  The ratio is about 1:3 frosting to cake.  Roll the mixture into balls.  Harden in freezer for a few minutes or wrap tightly and freeze until you are ready to use.  Defrost.  Dip a lollipop stick in melted Candy Melts and put it in the cake pop- I usually make a hole in the balled caked first to make it easier and neater.  Place in freezer for about 10 or so minutes to firm up again.  Then dip the cake pop in any color of melted Candy Melt you choose.  Decorate with sprinkles while still wet or drizzle another color over hardened cake pops. That's pretty much all!)

Sandi came up with this neat idea to display them.  I covered the Styrofoam I use to hold them while I make them with Christmas paper and then stuck the sticks through.  When the bake sale was over I just removed the paper and could keep the Styrofoam for next time.
Here is what I'm learning about taking care of myself.  First, I need to say no more than I want to.  Second, that saying no to things that I truly don't want to do is not all that difficult.  I struggle because there are so many things I do want to do, or help with, or try, or make time for but is not reasonable or joy-producing to do it all. I have a hard time saying no to those things that I might want but don't have space for.   But each time I do and the world stays intact, I affirm my own right to breathe easy and enjoy what I AM doing.

I had to laugh when I announced I wasn't going to do my holiday baking and Sandi said, "Good...except you will make petite fours right?" These are my favorite to make because they are intricate (but also time consuming) and pretty and everyone loves them.  So I set aside some time to enjoy making them. I put the batch in the freezer to take here or there as small tokens to people and I set aside some for Ange who loves them.  Then a few days later Ange said to me, "I'm so proud of you for not doing your baking this year but, wait, does that mean no layered almond cookies?" (petite fours) and I had to just laugh and assure her that I had some with her name on them.

I am proud of how I am doing this holiday season.  Between the baking and the solo work of the holidays the past two years, I felt totally beat up when they were over.  So far this year, I've gotten to do some of what I love without making myself nuts.  If I had skipped baking altogether I would have missed one of the things I love about this time of year.  Sandi and I are being realistic about our plans and even scaling back and declining invites that would be fun but too crunched, too stressful.  I think I might be maturing on the balance front.

It is my vow to sit by my fire more and enjoy our Christmas lights and to not let meditation fall by the wayside as holiday tasks creep in.   I want to make sure, above all, that my kids are having fun, that I am having fun and that I feel love and joy, not stress and strain.  This doesn't seem like it should be so hard but I have to work to keep the intention every day.  The holidays just have a way of becoming crazy.

Our lives are finding their way back to normal in such an easy and beautiful way that I find myself having periods of undisturbed contentment.  I want to foster this as much as possible.  Sandi and I celebrated our 13th anniversary yesterday and I have so much to be grateful for that I want that to be the balance of how my days are spent.

That is my gift to myself this Christmas.  That an awesome new purse I have yet to pick out.

1 comment:

Emilie said...

As someone who is working equally hard to reign it in this Christmas season, I really don't appreciate how beautiful those cake pops are and how easy you make it seem, because I am feeling the pull... AHH!

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