Happy, well, everything!! This is a festive month no matter what you are celebrating. The Saini household is a global one, so we like exploring all the different traditions people around the world celebrate this month. Admittedly, it’s usually a hard time of year for me personally. Since losing my mom 11 years ago, nothing about the holiday season has been the same for me. Some days I find myself stuck in a beautiful muck of memories, where my heart can’t figure out whether to cry or smile.
One thing I have noticed this year, is that my little ones bring the meaning of JOY into this season. Truly. At 5 and almost 3, they are two little sparkly lights running around:
They get excited over lights. Over decorations. Over anything sparkly. Gingerbread houses. And most of all, the experimental baked goods that are coming out of mommy’s kitchen.
I say experimental, because I find baking to be a glorious, scientific, mess. And anyone that knows me knows I’m the only Indian girl around that can’t do math or science (there’s a reason I majored in English and went to law school people!).
But you know what? This is no time to be frightened. It’s a time to be bold, try new things, EAT DIVERSE! My goal is always to be open-minded in trying new things, because I want to foster that spirit in my own children.
You can do a lot of things with your little ones this season, to broaden their minds AND their palates. Have you tried another culture’s holiday traditions? Food is a wonderful way to teach culture and tradition of another country. How about a Finnish-style sugar cookie, full of warming cardamom? Or simple gingerbread (google your favorite one) cookies or cake? Baking spices are fabulous ways to introduce new tastes to your little one. Cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ground ginger, nutmeg. All “baby-friendly” and festive.
Me personally? I saw a New York Times recipe for iced sugar cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookie book (she’s now my new cookie hero). I’m my daughter’s room mom this year and for her holiday party I thought I’d do a cookie decorating party with her class. Me? Bake cookies? I was brave and just tried the recipe out this weekend. OH MY GOSH! IT WORKED! I can’t tell you how inspirational it was to just bake something and feel confident. My kids were psyched, I was psyched (and then my husband came home and ate half the plate). 🙂
You know what else? It reminded me of my mom. Maybe it was Dorie herself, or the fact that I was being a brave chef (my mom tried everything, she had no fear of cooking and had golden hands in the kitchen). Or the fact that I was teaching my kids how to just try things. Cooking and baking = DOING. And DOING is a way to handle everything from missing a loved one, to helping others, to learning new things. I love that there is a whole world of people out there to learn from and look up to.
Sending you lots of love this holiday season from my entire family to yours. Look for Around the World in 80 Purees: Easy Recipes for Global Baby Food, at your favorite bookstore. xo