Holiday Blues

The holiday season can be difficult. Perhaps you are far away from home. Maybe the stress of the holiday season increases your anxiety. Financial difficulties can be causing stress. Or maybe the holidays have become a reminder of those that have passed away. 

Traditions can be difficult when you’re missing a family member. This is the second Christmas without my mom and grandmother.  I expected last year to be hard. This year I was not at all prepared for the grief and loss. Perhaps last year I did a better job of preparing for them being gone. Maybe I was just in shock last year and didn’t deal with it as well as I should have, or thought I was. Whatever the reason, this year was very, very hard.

I started out the holiday season by slowly getting Christmas shopping done. I had made a list, budgeted, and planned out the shopping well in advance. This helped alleviate some of the stress and worry that usually happens with holiday planning. Yay me!! I was done and ready to wrap everything by the start of December. I then decided to pull out some family recipes to share with family and friends. No big deal. I did that last year too. Except this year the Goddess of baking was NOT on my side. My Potica didn’t rise correctly and was dry and ugly. I ruined a batch of cookies I had made many, many times before.  My ginger snaps weren’t that snappy. And my biscotti were awful.  Whatever I attempted in the kitchen just didn’t work out. Sometimes the kitchen wins. It’s just part of baking. Your bread doesn’t rise, your cakes fall, you burn things. It happens sometimes. But these failures really hurt this season. I felt as though I couldn’t do anything correctly.  I missed the people connected to these recipes.  Part of the reason I started baking was to feel closer to both my Grandmother and mom. We lost both in 2018. My mom always had rum cakes, cookies and other goodies baking from Thanksgiving on. And my grandmother baked with us as children and passed on her own holiday traditions that the family now continues.  When nothing worked, I felt farther and farther away from them both. Oddly enough, my sister was having the same holiday baking issues. It just wasn’t our year.

Holiday gatherings, well gatherings in general, are difficult. They bring out a great deal of anxiety. When you are dealing with grief still, those situations can be even trickier. I went into Christmas with a plan. Bake to feel connected, make sure my coping skills were available and ready, and have a plan if everything fell apart. I went straight to the fell apart step from Christmas Eve on. I was overwhelmed and sad at family gatherings. Christmas Day was spent trying, unsuccessfully, not to cry. I could not get myself together. I had to go into super coping mode. I came home from festivities, took my extra med that is for emergency reset, and watched my favorite movie. I needed to do anything I could that wasn’t a reminder of the holiday season. Did I feel awful about falling apart? Yes. Did I feel like I let down my family? Yep.  Did my original coping plan not work? Obviously. Do I need to do a better job of reframing what is good about the holiday gatherings? Absolutely. This year was a failed attempt in every way. But, that’s ok. Time to reassess. Time to try again. Grief is a brutal monster. It just shows up when it shows up. I wasn’t prepared this holiday. But seriously…can you be? Let’s all try to start this year with a happy memory. Give ourselves a break and a pat on the back for trying.  Tell someone important to you that you love them. It’s those moments that will get you through the rough ones. Happy Baking and Happy New Year.

Mom’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 min

Ingredients for Dough

5 or 6 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 cubes softened butter

½ pint sour cream

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Mix the butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla together until well mixed.
  2. Add the sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Put in 1 cup of flour at a time until it looks like mixed cookie dough.  ** you may not need all the flour!**
  4. Chill for 20 min
  5. Roll out and press your cookie cutter designs.
  6. Bake for 7-10 min

*these cookies will be soft when done. Take out of oven when edges are just starting to color

Frosting

2 sticks softened butter

1 stick Crisco

1 tsp vanilla

Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Cream butter, Crisco and vanilla until well mixed.
  2. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until the mixture looks crumbled.
  3. Add a tiny bit of milk (tsp or so) until the mix is smooth again.
  4. Add food coloring if wanted.
  5. You can make this ahead of time and store in fridge. After the mix comes back to room temperature use a beater to whip it smooth again.