So, this is Christmas. And what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? That next week is Christmas? I’m a little confused by it all, to tell you the truth. Didn’t we just have Thanksgiving? Wasn’t I just trick-or-treating with my babies?
I mean, it all happened so fast. Am I really done with pumpkin? Have I heard all the Christmas songs I want to hear on the radio? What about cookies?! We haven’t made Santa’s cookies yet!!
It’s so easy to get stressed out this time of year, especially when you have young children. There are just so many things to do in such a short amount of time. Every year, at this point, I’m already exhausted from my son’s birthday
and worn out from all the baking and catering and party planning I do from Thanksgiving until now. But you know what? This year I’m not. This year I’m as excited as as a kid. I’m actually starting to get sad that it’s about to be over. I just want to make sure I have as much Christmas fun as I can with my kids before it’s too late. Plus, I’m a little nerdy about the holidays anyway. I haven’t heard a normal song since the day after Thanksgiving. I was in my Monday night exercise class and the instructor put on The Jackson Five’s Christmas album and I literally started grinning like an elf and singing along as I did my squats.
But there’s something different about this particular year for me. I’ve turned over a new leaf in a lot of aspects of my life. I’ve made new decisions to make myself happier and not let things get me down. If you were to look at my calender, I’m not doing any less work than previous years, not completing any fewer tasks, I’m just better about how I’m doing them and how I allow them to make me feel this year. So I finally have the time to enjoy what this time of year is all about. It took me 5 years of being a mom to finally get here. But it feels pretty darn good.
Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t had my stressors…or thing yet to be accomplished. I haven’t finished decorating the house yet, there are still boxes of decorations in a corner of the playroom. I just took on two new assignments for this week. We never made a Christmas card. I haven’t watched Charlie Brown or Frosty yet. I still have things to deliver to the neighbors. I haven’t made the annual Peppermint Brownies yet. I still don’t know who Parson Brown is or why people are telling scary ghost stories during the most wonderful time of the year. I still haven’t fixed the strand of Christmas lights that doesn’t work on our banister. And I don’t remember what I bought and wrapped to give to my husband this year.
Plus, last week I was in Target with my daughter doing some shopping, and she decided it would be the perfect time to fall and slam her head into the shopping cart and get a giant welt that scared not only me, but the employees of my local Target store.
I had a woman in a clip board follow me around and bend over backwards to make sure I wasn’t going to sue them. They took me to a special corner of the store, gave me ice, a bottle of medicine to take home, and as many beverages as I could take. My little girl is so much tougher than me. All she needed was a hug and a packet of fruit snacks and she was up and running again. It took me all day to recover from her injury. Then a few days later I cut my finger slicing into a pumpkin to make soup for an upcoming event. My daughter was overtired, needing me to hold her, and I was working too fast with a very sharp knife and a very hard pumpkin.
Then on this past Sunday we decided, as I was prepping our breakfast-for-dinner, that we should go out and look at the Christmas lights around town. That was one thing we hadn’t crossed off our To Do list and we thought it may never happen if we didn’t do it then. No one had pants on (the kids, not the adults….we’re not savages!), I was covered in flour and shortening, it was pouring outside and everyone was starving and cranky (the kids, not the adults). So we tossed the two pants-less wonders into the minivan, cranked up the heat and the radio and set out to see the lights. We got 5 minutes out before the little one began to unravel at the seams. I started to think that maybe this whole ‘driving around with a toddler at dinner time’ thing wasn’t such a good idea. But thanks to another pack of fruit snacks and a song from Elmo, we made it home without any more injuries.
Once we got home, the kids were beyond hungry, probably quite cold due to the no-pants, and I knew there was no way I could get dinner done by myself. I had biscuits to make and eggs to scramble and about 12 minutes to throw it all together before another meltdown. So I put my husband on scramblin’ duty and plopped my kids on the counter to help me. The second those kids started playing with the dough, a calm washed over the room. And once those biscuits were baking in the oven, the whole house smelled of joy. Everyone pitched in, everyone had fun doing it, and I didn’t let the stress ruin the evening. So what if a biscuit or two (or five) came out hard as a rock due to the over-kneading from the kiddos? So what if they ate a quarter of the dough because they were starving?
None of those things mattered in the end. What mattered is that I, we, created a memory.
We watched a Christmas movie on the floor of the living room with our eggs, bacon and biscuits, and I savored every last morsel of this precious family time. And that meal, that simple, humble meal, tasted better than anything fancy I could have made by myself. You could taste the love in every bite. And isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s about spending time together. Not being afraid to let mistakes happen, and then taking those mistakes and making something fun and memorable out of it. It’s not about how many things you can bake for how many people, or
doing so much that you don’t have the time to enjoy your family, it’s about simply taking the time to stop and smell
And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun. The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.
A very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.
(These biscuits are the best I have ever eaten. Seriously. I’ve made these several times, tweaked the recipe and believe I have finally gotten them right. They are light and buttery, flaky and succulent, they are downright, slap-your-mama good. SERIOUSLY. I use both butter and shortening because butter adds the best flavor and shortening adds the best texture. There is just the right amount of salt to keep you coming back for more. I use buttermilk because…it’s just the only way. And I even use whole wheat pastry flour that not only gives you some fiber, but also adds more flavor. I assure you, if you make these you will make them again. And again. And again. SERIOUSLY.)
*Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits
(yields about 10 large biscuits)
In a large mixing bowl combine the following dry ingredients-
-2 cups all purpose white flour
-2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
-2 TB + 2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp kosher salt
Using either a fork, a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the following-
-4 TB shortening (I always use butter flavored)
-4 TB unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Quickly work the fat into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course cornmeal. No piece of fat should be any larger than that of a pea. (If you’re prepping these ahead and do not wish to bake them now, now is the time to place the bowl in the refrigerator until you’re ready. You can’t add wet to a leavening agent unless you’re planning on baking right away or it will lose it’s magical powers. Plus, you want to make sure the fat stays cold until the moment it hits the oven.)
-2 cups buttermilk, cold
Stir with either a fork or your hands and work until the dry ingredients are all moistened. It will be sticky.
Turn onto a floured surface and quickly shape into a flat disk, roughly 1 inch thick*.
Cut, using a 3 inch biscuit cutter, into rounds and place each round onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape any scrap dough (quickly) into more biscuits, but know that these biscuits will not be as pretty or as tender as the initial so get as many biscuits as you can from the first cutting.
Place your biscuits into a preheated 450 degree oven, on the TOP RACK and bake for exactly 11 minutes.**
-Remove from the oven and cool slightly on the sheets before devouring warm on a plate nestled between some buttery eggs, cheesy grits and crispy bacon. Be sure to leave a large chunk of biscuit until the end so you have something to sop up the yolk and completely clean your plate.
(*you can certainly make these smaller and have more biscuits, which would be perfect for a party. But I, being Southern, happen to believe that bigger is better.)
(**this time is perfect (in my oven) for the most tender, melt in your mouth biscuits. There is a chance, however, that if you have an especially large biscuit in the bunch, it will be a tad bit underdone in the center at this baking time. I don’t mind that, in fact…I kinda like it. But if you want to make sure that doesn’t happen, then go for 12 minutes.)