8:34 PM- Sunday, December 18th
I have been a bad blogger. My last post was what… 2 weeks ago? For this, I am sorry.
But, while I have been writing on other domains, some amazing things have been happening. Christmas is in 7 days!!!! Every year, Christmas is that one day where good work, kindness, and love are reality rather than expectations.
But this year I am finding that getting into the Christmas Spirit is a lot harder. Hmm, Karen. I sure wonder why. Let me elucidate:
- Donald Trump
- Climate Change (and the resulting gross weather)
- Bad Christmas music
- No Christmas music
- Constantly evolving forms of teen-angst
- AP Chemistry
So yes. Despite my house being a literal winter wonderland, I have had trouble finding my inner Christmas happiness.
But last night, in the midst of supplemental college essays, I found the Christmas Spirit.
Some background: last year, in my history class, some friends and I would get together before every test and study our brains out. However, in a strange twist of fate, these study sessions quickly evolved into eating/shopping/lying-on-the-floor-discussing-our-woes sessions. In order to legitimize whatever we were doing, we dubbed ourselves “Controverseeall,” which was the phonetic spelling of our teacher’s pronunciation of the word “controversial.”
Now that we are out of that history class, we still look for special parts of the year where we get together and re-create the same havoc that somehow provided us comfort.
Our most recent gathering happened last night, when we spent four hours baking both refined sugar and refined sugar free Christmas treats and then proceeded to watch the holiday classic, Elf.
The entire baking period was a lesson in itself. We may have bought WAY too much food… But we made some pretty cute things! We made brownies that looked like Rudolph (the best reindeer), snowmen cupcakes, chocolate mini-loaves, snowmen oreo truffles, and sugar cookie Christmas nests. To make sure that I could actually eat, we made some amazing peanut butter cookies and maple coconut truffles (I’ll add those recipes at the bottom) and then popped some pop corn.
In the midst of all of the baking and messes and my extreme need for order, I severely burned the popcorn. When I say severely, I mean it. The bag almost caught on fire and we had to stand outside the kitchen because the smoke was so heavy and potent.
My peanut butter cookies also looked a lot like cow pies, we burnt one side of the brownies, and by the end of the night I had not been loyal to my promise of not eating refined sugar.
What I am trying to say is that in the midst of what we had planned as a fun night, a lot of failures happened. And frequently, my response was stress and silent moping.
But, once the kitchen was clean and all of the baked goods were adorably arranged, everything felt really good. The feeling of completion and of beauty were so strong that I forgot about all of the chaos involved in the process of baking.
I think that during the holidays we all get obsessed with finishing the year strong. For me, it is figuring out how I will be able to finish applying to college in these next 12 days of the year. For my parents, it is getting all of their work in for the end of the fourth quarter of the financial year. For my brother… well he already took his finals so he’s a lucky one. Either way, I think that getting into the Christmas Spirit becomes difficult because we are so obsessed with leaving the heaviness of the previous year behind.
I left out one aspect of last night. Controverseeall decided to hold a gift exchange. As we giggled over the originality of our gifts, my two friends presented me with something I will cherish for the rest of my life. They got me this:
The book has 52 sections- one for each week. The sections are designed to build on one another, where the writer takes note of what she is thankful for, what her good memories are, what her goals are, etc. It is one of those books that reminds you that life is not as bad as it seems (despite what news about Donald Trump might suggest), and that memories are just as important as taking real breaks.
Last night taught me a lot about this year, myself, and having hope. For the entirety of the year, stress has defined my approach to things. And that faded when I was in London, writing everyday. But my friends- the people I think I, and introverts generally, tend to avoid in moments of stress- were the ones to catalyze reflection on the importance of relationships. And I think the true reason that the Christmas Spirit has been so difficult to attain this season is that we are not searching for the hope and love that Christmas promotes.
But my friends saw past that. They did not take this season as just another time to decorate. They embraced the baking failures, and thought about me when, frankly, I had given myself away to college applications.
And because of that, I have found the Christmas Spirit. I hope you can find it too, and if you’re having trouble, I know a book that might help you out a bit.
Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas!
P.S. Here are the recipes I promised!
Maple Coconut Truffles
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup coconut chips, toasted in maple syrup
- 1 1/4 cup medjool dates
- 4 heaping tablespoons almond butter
- Pulse almonds and coconut chips in a food processor until a coarse meal is formed. If you prefer more of a bite, pulse for less time.
- Add almond butter and 3/4 of the dates. Pulse until a crumbly mix is formed. Add the remaining dates and pulse until the mix is a bit more combined.
- Roll the dough into balls. The dough will be quite crumbly, so, using the warmth of your hands, press the dough gently.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 45 minutes before eating. You can also freeze it for later use.
- Store the dough in the fridge (for up to one week) or the freezer (for up to six months).
These are so delicious, and go great with a mug of milk! They are super delicious as dessert, but are also really energizing for breakfast.
Four Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 cup natural peanut butter (I use Teddie’s)
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup grade A maple syrup
- 1 egg (or flax alternative, although I would strongly recommend an egg)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
- Grease a baking sheet and drop 2 tablespoon rounds of dough.
- Bake for 11-13 minutes, taking the dough out when it is still soft and runny. The cookie will look raw when you take them out, but they will set and harden while cooling. Just make sure you take the cookies out before the bottoms burn.
- Store the cookies in an air-tight container lined with wax paper. The cookies will stay fresh for up to 4 days.
Again, these are great with milk, and make the house smell amazing. They are not the prettiest, but the taste totally compensates!