What is it about the holiday season that inspires us more than any other time? This time of year, we have a great excuse to dream and smile and do things that we wouldn’t normally do. We can get away with getting carried away. We are filled with hope. It’s Christmas! The crafters get craftier, the bakers bake fancier, we decorate and sing and buy gifts and give to charities and watch cheesy movies with warm and fuzzy endings. (Seriously, they are all exactly the same these days. Someone has closed their heart because of a tragedy or a break-up, and they go through some crazy experience and eventually fall in love with the other lead character, bringing joy to the town/family/small children/dog.)
My preferred activity to get carried away with during the holidays is cooking. (Note to self: increase frequency of gym visits to counteract this hobby.) I love to cook all year round, but something about the colder weather and celebrations happening really takes my passion for cooking to new heights. I watch the Food Network with a notebook, furiously scribbling instructions and ingredients in hopes of recreating the delicious holiday dishes I see. I bring out old favorites as well–signature dishes of my mom, aunts and grandmothers. I delight in the beautiful colors and the aroma of spices and butter wafting in my tiny kitchen. Nothing gets me into the holiday spirit more than rolling up my sleeves, tying on my apron and cooking my heart out. I love that God has uniquely gifted each of us with different creative outlets that give us a zest for living (to borrow an expression from my dad). When I cook, the thoughts that are usually bouncing around furiously in my head fade away. I feel centered and present in a way that I rarely do during the hectic pace of daily life.
Sometimes I see beautifully crafted quilts or paintings, stunning family photographs or perfectly decorated homes, and I think to myself, “Wow. That person is able to express their love for friends and family so well. I am not that talented.” Then I remember that we ALL have gifts. I am not very crafty. I get bored or frustrated with crafts. My house never looks perfectly put together like something from a Pottery Barn catalog. I can’t sew. My clumsy fingers don’t like meticulous tasks involving needles. But I love to cook. I don’t mind complicated recipes that require hours of labor. For me, it’s a labor of love. I turn on music and spin around the kitchen tasting as I go and usually making a mess. I get great satisfaction from the process, and it brings me joy to bless loved ones with food that I make (at least I hope it’s a blessing). 🙂 One of my sweet college buddies wrote a beautiful post on her blog recently about an unexpected evening of cooking together that we had a couple of years ago.
Maybe someday I’ll get my act together and become a better seamstress or crafter or photographer. Until then, I will pour my passion and Christmas spirit into the dishes I make. And that is enough. What’s your creative outlet during the holidays?