First and foremost, happy holidays. Whatever holiday you celebrate this season, I hope it was happy and blessed. I hope you got to spend time with family, maybe found new traditions in this crazy pandemic, or took some much needed alone time to recoup from the year. Whatever the holiday season is to you, I truly hope it was filled with happiness.
My family unit does not celebrate the birth of Christ, rather, we celebrate the pagan traditions of Christmas such as gift-giving, tree decorating, and Santa. Rugjen considers himself atheist and I consider myself agnostic. Christmastime in our household is spent with friends and family and eating good food.
I’ve been pretty vocal about my mental health struggles this year. I am happy to report that I am moving in the right direction. Positive progress is slow and steady. It is amazing at how depression can slowly take away the things that made you happy and you not even realize it. Sometimes, your friends and family don’t even notice because the depression is masked by other things. In my case, my diabetic complications make me exhausted and run down, so when I lose interest in a hobby I once loved, loved ones might see it as me being extra exhausted. I think that is what happened to me slowly over the last three to four years. My depression was masked by my other health issues.
In the past, cooking and baking brought me a lot of joy. However, with the exception of Thanksgiving, I stopped cooking and baking. For the most part, Rugjen would throw together a meal since I got home later. My enjoyment of cooking and baking died a very slow death. So slow, I didn’t even know it was happening. It was masked by my exhaustion and other issues.
Recently, I felt a small jolt. I wanted to cook and bake again. It was then that it became crystal clear how depressed I have been for many years. I actually wanted to DO something, and that was pretty big.
Our Christmas celebrations always start with Christmas Eve pizza. That’s right. Christmas. Eve. Pizza. This year, we dined on the finest that Home Slice Pizza out of Austin has to offer. Their pizza is always delicious and I can’t think of a better meal to help us celebrate the night before Christmas. So, thank you Home Slice for staying open long enough for us to order our Christmas Eve meal.
After dinner, our family opens presents. That’s right. We’re heathens and open our presents on Christmas Eve. Honestly, I never heard of opening presents on Christmas Eve until I spent my first Christmas with Rugjen’s family. It was their tradition that I had no objections to. Typically, Santa will drop off a few gifts and stuff our stockings overnight to open Christmas morning. We were pretty blessed this year. What are your Christmas traditions?
This year, I decided that I wanted to cook something different for our Christmas Day meal. I didn’t feel like roasting a turkey or ham. Truth be told, I don’t really enjoy ham all that much. So, after brainstorming with Rugjen, I came up with the following menu:
I was so excited to cook. I even bought a new fondue pot, but looking back, I probably should have went with a smaller pot. It’s still amazing, though! Everything came out perfect. What did you have for Christmas dinner this year?
I also used to really love baking, but just like cooking, the passion for doing it died. I decided this year, I wanted to make a Japanese-inspired Christmas cake. Christmas Eve in Japan is actually a lover’s holiday. Traditionally, the Japanese celebrate with a sponge cake, whipped cream icing, and strawberry filling. Decorations are usually very simple dollops of whipped cream, a Santa figurine, and a border of whole strawberries. Their simplicity is what makes them beautiful…but I ended up screwing that up and totally Americanized it. I started having so much making fondant decorations that I didn’t stop and what was supposed to be a simple cake with a Santa topper turned into an nod to the movie Elf. Making this cake brought me so much joy that I’m not even mad at myself for going overboard.
We had a completely blessed holiday. I hope that you can say the same. Stay healthy and happy!