In the meantime, here is my video greeting of the season to you all:
I've always been a shameless, over-the-top lover of Christmas. But the thing is, Christmas has not been the same since my mom and my grammie passed away. They both, in their own ways, "made" Christmas. They just made it happen, the magic, the good feeling in the air, the amazing smells coming out of the kitchen. And maybe that's one of the biggest lessons they both taught me about this time of year. Christmas is whatever you make of it. For each person, it means something different. The important thing is that you make Christmas be what you want it to be.
Some of my closest friends claim they don't like this time of year. And whenever I ask them, eagerly (desperately) "but but but what about the egg nog by the fire, and the roasted chestnuts, and being around the people you love (even if they sometimes drive you to insanity), and the snow, and the lights, and and and..." They usually respond "oh yeah, I like all that stuff, it's just the other stuff I don't like". So then I sit back, satisfied (self-congratulating yes, perhaps a little), and say "AHA! So you don't really hate Christmas, you just hate the Christmas muck." You know the muck. We all know the muck. The shopping, the plastic stuff, the traffic jams, the running around, the endless commercials and overplayed tunes, the pressure we put on ourselves. I guess I never really considered all that stuff part of Christmas, because we somehow just managed to tune it out, and to skip to the essence of this time of year. Which is really just about being together and enjoying special moments, whatever they may be. It's different for everyone. But I think the Danish word "hygge" best describes the feeling of what I want Christmas to be. "Hygge" has no direct English translation, but it apparently involves a combination of the words "coziness," "togetherness" and "well-being", among other things.
For my family, these moments of togetherness usually involve food. And there are two recipes that my mom used to make that have become annual traditions for me. One is her Baba au Rhum, and the other is her tourtière, a Québec meat pie that I've loved ever since I was little. For me, making these recipes is a way to feel my mom's presence and to feel connected to all the things that I want Christmas to be: pleasure, magic, delight, coziness.
If you'd like to try my mom's Christmas tourtière, the recipe can be found on my post at PBS Food. Bon appétit and my warmest holiday greetings to you and yours.