Spin spin… glitter flash… It’s beginning to look a lot like… I didn’t ask for that sized box… Would you like to donate to… Deck the halls with… Hannukah… Holidays… Girl Scouts… holiday show… my husband’s birthday… my mother in law has her birthday before… my anniversary and my wedding anniversary in the same month, too… Oh happy day… tamales… Christmas dinner… movies… coffee mornings… homemade scones… brunch… breakfast potatoes and burritos…

It’s always been the simple things for me that took my breath away at holiday time. I didn’t always have much growing up. My father was raising 3 boys and he had the help of his sister and his mother, my aunt and grandma. I had my grandma take care of me and was home during my primary grade years. She always had homemade food ready.

She would bake our favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, tamales, champurrado (a Mexican chocolate-based warm thick drink with cinnamon, anise seed and vanilla). I always welcomed the aromas that would fill the house. I remember asking what was that, or this, may I taste this, can I have that and just curious about what was going on in the kitchen. That was my joy around the holidays.

I knew I had that to look forward to. I understood that this food was only during the holiday season. It was my comfort. It made me think of the flavors, smells and colors. Rich brown, red, green, bright gold and dark brown too. It wasn’t just the taste of the food but the texture of it. A tamale has so much texture in it. I remember the grain and crumble. The meat was tender and easy to chew. It had lots of flavor and it was exactly how I remember it.

Now that I am a father and have the opportunity to make the holidays our own, I have started our own traditions. My husband, Sean, likes to get a small ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas tree. We decorate it as a family. My daughter and son help. Our dogs watch us like we are crazy, I’m sure. I keep the holidays the same as I remember. I focus on the food.

joel familyI make, bake, cook and assemble so much. I will make scones for a morning pastry, french toast bake, pork bulk sausage with fennel seed, anise and white pepper to go with eggs. This is the time of year I also make breakfast potatoes. It is about comfort, warmth and love. The essence of our bounty without the attachment of material things. Yes gifts are great. I didn’t come from having or receiving a lot of things. It was food. That is where my foundation and tradition meet.

Yes, I am doing more than I would any other time of the year.
It is because I love doing it. I honestly enjoyed being in the kitchen, being at home and celebrating with my family when I was a child. I continue that with my children and husband. I enjoy it more because my children can now state what we do as a family. Our traditions. The usual thing we do and what a typical morning is like during this time of year. We hike, see the sights, travel down to see the coast and observe nature. Again simple things. Time spent together. That’s my happy place.

It’s all in a day’s work.