Friday, November 14, 2014

Holidays: Traditional Way or Easy Way?

  The holidays are upon us!  This can make you joyous or fill you with dread depending on how many balls you already have in the air as you juggle life.  I remember when our boys were little, and then again, when we were at the stage where  we had two school-aged children and a preschooler, that I felt more tension and less joy as Thanksgiving and Christmas came at a train!
  I think when you're a young mom, you put more demands on yourself, too. Somehow you think that it has to be,"perfect" for your children to have the same type of great memories that you have of your own childhood holidays.  But, if you look back more closely at those old photos and really think back to your own childhood Christmases, you realize that Mom and Dad are smiling, but look really tired in those Christmas morning photos.  Everything doesn't match perfectly on the Thanksgiving table, and everyone doesn't have on color-coordinated Target red and white-striped PJs.  Look closely, there  is an array of mis-matched chairs around the extra card table in the dining room to accommodate all of the cousins, aunts and uncles.  But, notice too, in the photos, that everyone is having a good time and smiling!  The food on that card table and the main table looks wonderful!  Mom and Dad are tired, but they are beaming as they carry the turkey into the dining room.  It's time to sit down with family!
  Making room for more people!  Making our stuff and our food stretch to include others!  Being happy and taking time to count our blessings...that's what makes holiday memories.  Yes, when we have small children in the mix, there's usually a crucial toy that needs to be found and wrapped,( we had an all-out manhunt for 2 Power Ranger figures one Christmas shopping season!), but we need to remind ourselves that everything is not crucial!  Everything else about the holidays is up to how much time, money and energy you are willing to invest.  If you have children and need a guide for how to spend your resources and allocate your time wisely, think about what moments you remember most from your holidays as a child.  If it's something as simple as watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer  on TV, and  Mom making hot chocolate (with the little marshmallows!), realize  that Mom and Dad were in the same room watching it with you...and they weren't texting!  They were present....that is a "present" for kids! It"s often the "little things"  that become the important things.
  In this spirit of simplifying so we have more time for joy, I present, for the third year, my recipes for the holidays that will include the traditional version and the easy version.  If your kids are grown and you're back to cooking, baking and decorating as a hobby, you have time for the traditional recipe.  If you have a baby on your lap as you read this and it's your only break until you pick up your other kids at school, the easy versions are for you (with my own fond memories of that special kind of chaos).  This feature has been popular in past years.  I hope you enjoy it.  ~Marcia

Pumpkin Bread:  Traditional Version-Easy Version

Pumpkin Bread
From Mary Brooks Harris

1 C vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 C cold water
2 C pumpkin
3 C sugar
3 1/2 C plus 2 TBSP flour
3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 C chopped walnuts (optional)
combine all ingredients and mix well.  Pour into greased pans.  You can use 2 loaf pans for 1 hour at 375 degrees or muffin tins for 10-15 minutes.

Super Quick 3 Ingredient Pumpkin Bread

1 box of spice cake mix
1 regular can of packed pumpkin
Pumpkin pie spice-to taste

Mix all ingredients and put in greased loaf pans.  Bake according to directions on the cake mix box.

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