Christ is risen!
Thanksgiving happened not too long ago in America. It is a major holiday here where we get together and remember the things to be grateful for. Personally, I don’t like to see a big dead bird in front of me for almost two decades; for the longest time, I would wear black because it felt like I was attending a funeral with the body in front of me. That was my thinking as a teenager.
I didn’t understand the practice of gratitude for a long time. It’s the last couple of years I am understand the practice of gratitude. Something I’ve learned from it is: practice gratitude more often, not just on Thanksgiving. Secondly, gratitude is humbling and comforting.
I think there are many meals and times when we can practice being grateful. In fact, I think every time we have a meal, whether it’s alone or with others, it is a time to practice gratitude. This is something I struggled with, and still struggle with but it is not so difficult as years prior. Forgive me for writing this after Thanksgiving. I struggle, along with practicing gratitude, I struggle with body pain for over a decade. For many years, my physical pain has been dismissed by many doctors; many of them graduating from top medical schools and yet not one could tell me how to heal myself so I can live a healthy and normal life. I have finally found help after 15 years of searching for relief. And I have finally come to realization of being grateful for the body pain. God must have saved me from sins and passions that would have taken my soul to very dark places. I have encountered being in dark moments of my life, so I can’t imagine what God has saved me from. And I am so grateful for this. It takes a great mental effort to recover from the pain I experience. Also, to not lose hope in the Lord takes a lot of effort for me. I am still learning about what it means to be an Orthodox Christian. There are so many amazing martyrs who died for our faith. Tortured, exiled…some skinned alive. If my body pain is my Cross to bear, glory be to God. It does make it difficult to do “normal” things in life. I can’t cook large meals as I used to. I can’t take long walks without my sciatica acting up. I can’t sit for too long and type a long blog post about a recipe I tested. I just can’t. But I am so grateful for all the blessings that the Lord showers upon me, I want to share it with the world. Thank you God for all these blessings.
This year I was able to gather around with my friends and family. During the early times of COVID, it was difficult to come together without the worry of getting sick. Not coming together, not being able to cook for my loved ones sucked the joy and energy out of me. This year I decided to write down tips to make it easier for me, my body pain, and most of all, for you. This is not a final list but a starting list to make holiday cooking easier.
Tips for my future self cooking for Thanksgiving
- Planning is your best friend here. It will save you time and aggravation. You don’t need to be super rigid with it, but if you don’t make something the day you were supposed to make it. decide for yourself, can I let this dish go or do I have time to make it? If you can let it go, let it go. You’ll feel better. There’s no point stressing yourself out about it. Repeat: NO POINT OF STRESSING OVER A DISH NOT MADE. Perhaps a better dish is supposed to be made or its just not meant to be made.
- If you can buy it a month advance, buy it. You will save yourself time and aggravation.
- If you can freeze it, make it as far in advance as you can. Of course, this will depend on the ingredients as well. Keep that in mind.
- Make vegetable broth ahead of time and freeze it.(!!!)
- Frozen spinach is fine for spanakopita. Don’t forget to drain it after cooking it; this is specifically geared towards puff pastry or filo pastry recipes.
- This is a big time saver tip. If you haven’t practiced it, don’t make it. If there’s something you really want to make and have no idea how to make it or don’t have strong cooking skills, I promise you that if you test this recipe before committing yourself to making it, it will save you aggravation. Making a new recipe on the day of the holiday is not the time you want to do that… unless that’s the only dish you are making then that’s a different story. I leave it entirely up to you. But if you are hosting and cooking, don’t do it! You have a million things to do and prepare, the last thing you need is an unwanted surprising result. You don’t need to make it more difficult for yourself either. If you don’t have the time, don’t do the new recipe. Have someone buy it or make it.
- Minimize cooking on the day of. I don’t know about you, but I am mentally tired if I over cook the day of the big gathering (for any event or holiday). I don’t get to bond with my loved ones because I am so tired. I just want to close my eyes and put my feet up while listening to others chatting. This year I was a lot better at planning and managed to have breaks on the day of which in the past, I was struggling and juggling finishing up the remaining recipes I didn’t prep. But I was too tired to chat and catch up with friends.
I say all these tips because gatherings are meant to spend time with loved ones. Even if I was so exhausted after all the cooking, the fuel for my cooking was feeding my loved ones. And of course, expressing the power of plants! How creative and delicious they can be is what I aim to bring forth to the table. 🙂 While preparing and planning at my table, I would look up and time to time and imagine my loved ones sitting around in a circle, smiles and joy, in a light heartedness atmosphere. That image and feeling fueled me during the holiday season. I don’t want to spend unnecessary time in the kitchen. I want to spend it out there with family; there’s no distinction, even friends are considered as my family.
Some things I am grateful for… I am grateful for my husband and family, including our furry family members. Thanks to God, I have an amazing husband who adores and cherishes me as much as I adore and cherish him. I am grateful for all my basic needs being met. Hot baths at my convenience for my sciatica pain. Clean water itself is a luxury. So, to have clean hot water, thank you Lord. I am grateful for my church community and spiritual father; I feel healing and love by going to our church. I am grateful for God, most of all, because all the blessings in my life are thanks to Him. I had a dream around the age 15 to have my art be presented in a gallery show. My dream came true in the most magnificent and miracle working way through much trial and tribulations. It wasn’t easy but it was God’s way and timing. Much better way than how I would have done it, I must say so myself. I am grateful for my readers who take the time to read my blog posts.
Your sister in Christ,