Food, Fun and Fellowship
Making Holiday Gift Giving Into a Family Activity
Article by Cindy G. Foust
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go…soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing, right within your heart.”
Yes, readers, I have already started listening to Christmas music, and I might, just might, have already started decorating for the most wonderful time of year. I know, I know, we are still eating through the piles of Halloween candy and haven’t even carved the bird, and I’m already rushing the Christmas season. Judge if you must, but I so enjoy this time of year, all the lights, the trees and the festiveness of the season.
Every year I debate this month’s column, and wonder, what can I write about that will really inspire my readers during the holidays? I spend a lot of time wondering what it is you would like to hear from me about?. Hot toy lists? Hot chocolate recipes? How to keep your tinsel from being tangled? Who to call if you get in an “altercation” over a Black Friday sale item?
Never one to shy away from writing about ways to strengthen your family core, I got to thinking about that “old” song I just quoted and what it means to actually have Christmas in your heart. Wait, I really think my own heart episode might be directing my computer keys for this one. I mean, who am I, the Grinch? But think about it readers, how much of the season do we really stop and enjoy? Rather I think, most of us, myself included, never really stop and enjoy those lights, or the trees or just sitting around with your family watching a Christmas movie.
A couple years ago I wrote a column about being a Secret Santa to someone less fortunate; someone not in good health, or perhaps someone who is aging. I got a lot of great feedback on that, and actually, my family participated in that very cool endeavor, as well. It was very inspirational and the entire family (and some close friends) all got in on the action. In short, it was a stark reminder that we shouldn’t take our health for granted, and that slowing everything down to do something for someone who is struggling is what the season should really be about. With some of those same thoughts in mind, I started thinking about what should be on the hot seat for this month’s column.
If not a Secret Santa, how about incorporating the three “F’s,” you know, food, fun and fellowship, into a family project? Now, most of my readers who know me by now, know that I love my kitchen, and I love to cook for my family and friends. So, anytime I can integrate food into the adventure, I am going to do so.
So here’s my suggestion for Christmas 2017, readers…sit down with your family, during dinner, or call a “family meeting,” and make a list of some of your closest family and friends. As a point of reference, and our list changes from year to year, but we usually have 10-12 family or friends on our list.
Next, make a list of some different treats that will movtivate you to get in the kitchen and cook together, as a family. Now, for many of you “non-cooking” readers out there, who will lose total interest at this point and go buy 12 bottles of wine or 12 fruitcakes, hear me out before you turn the page away from my column.
This doesn’t have to be about making homemade divinity that you have to make on a day when it isn’t cloudy (I’m not sure if this is an old wife’s tale, but it sounds plausible) or using a candy thermometer. Don’t over think this! Especially if you have small children who want to “help,” you certainly don’t want to be worried about getting your fudge to the hard ball stage with your little ones underfoot.
There are quite a few things that can be prepared for our “project,” that will be fun, easy and delicious to share with the names on our list. Some of the recipes that we like to cook are different flavors of cupcakes, chocolate covered pretzels, sugar cookies and little pound cakes. Wait, I almost forgot my favorite, which is “trash” (you know, with pretzels, Chex cereal and anything else you want to throw in there.) A really super easy, and inexpensive way to wrap it up for your loved ones is to head to the dollar store or the local retail giant, and buy some of those little Christmas metal trays for a buck.
Then my family spends time in the kitchen, in the few days before Christmas, preparing all the treats. The fun part is starting the assembly line, when we divide everything up and everyone helps put everything we made on all the trays. I have to admit, my kids aren’t as enthused as they used to be, when they were younger, but after we get the Saran wrap on the trays and tape a cool gift tag “From the Fousts” to the food care package, they really enjoy going with us to deliver them.
It’s really funny now, because these same family and friends whom we have been gifting with these trays for years, not only enjoy them but have come to expect them. I know it sounds major hokey and cheesy, but it’s a lot of fun to get in the car, turn up the Christmas music and head out to see some of your closest “tribe.”
When we receive gifts like these, I always think about the time it took to organize, prepare and then deliver our gifts. Time, that’s the most important variable in this equation because most people would rather pull out their checkbook and give money than give up their time. It’s what makes a gift that was a labor of love, more meaningful, and especially when your family takes their time together to deliver the trays. So there you have it, readers, another Cindy Cuggestion (yes, I know suggestion starts with an “S” but I like to periodically make up words and that looks cuter with a “C”) for the holidays.
Take it and run with it, involve your family, engage your “tribe” and make some memories. Listen, you don’t have to be Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray to make this happen in your kitchen. Don’t be afraid; get on Pinterest and find some super easy recipes, make your list and then set aside a night for your family to help with the cooking. Trust me, the only problem you will have is that your family and friends will come to expect it every year, and I can assure you, there are a lot worse traditions you can start in your home. Merry Christmas, readers, and Happy New Year! I pray your holiday season will be filled with enough joy, happiness and love to make you sing carols that you will fill right inside your heart.