Happy Feasting To All


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Tasty Rituals  that Deepen the Holiday Spirit   The holiday season is ripe with an array of spiritual, cultural and family rituals.  We celebrate, reflect, give gifts and, of course, feast.  Fortunately, the media also teems with tips on how to avoid high-calorie holiday goodies, says Dr. Michelle May, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.  For our diet-driven culture to resolve its struggle with food, she says we must learn to honor its intrinsic value.  Ritualized eating can help; a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science found that engaging in food rituals evokes mindfulness that enhances the enjoyment of eating. Pause Hunger, the body’s fuel gauge, manifests in physical symptoms like a growling stomach or low blood sugar, says May, citing a useful analogy.  “You wouldn’t drive around and pull into every gas station you see; you’d check your fuel gauge first.  Before filling up with food, pause and check your fuel gauge.  Am I actually hungry, or is this desire coming from something else?” May suggests practicing FEASTing: First, focus on physical sensations, thoughts and emotions; perhaps we’re thirsty, rather than hungry, rationalizing that holiday foods are special, or feeling stressed or lonely.  Next, explore why the feelings or thoughts are present, and then accept them without judgment.  Strategize ways of satisfying the need and take a small step toward change. Savor Complex preparations for a major holiday can provoke anxiety and impatience, and likewise, feelings of longing or disappointment when it’s over.  Sarah Ban Breathnach, bestselling author of Simple Abundance and Peace and Plenty, recommends allowing Christmastide to unfold at its own pace and celebrating all of December with a homemade Advent calendar. Craft a tree-shaped tower of tiny boxes or a garland of burlap mini-bags clipped with clothespins.  Place and almond covered in organic chocolate in each container and use the treat as a daily mini-meditation.  “Drop into the present moment, fully savor the luxurious, small bite and experience the pleasure of eating,” suggests May.  Consider it symbolic of the season’s sweetness. Connect “Food connects us with one another, our heritage and our culture,” says May.  Heather Evans, Ph.D., a Queen’s University professor and a holiday culinary history expert in Ontario, Canada, suggests creating a food diary of traditions to reinforce a connection with the past and support a holiday food legacy for the future.  Ask grandparents about their childhood culinary memories, peruse family recipe books or discover new dishes that honor everyone’s ethnic heritage.  Then create an heirloom holiday cookbook with handwritten recipes arranged alongside favorite photos and stories. Sync According to pagan philosophy, sharing seasonal food with loved ones during the winter solstice on December 21 symbolizes the shared trust that warmth and sunlight will return.  Eating warm foods provides physical comfort and eating seasonally and locally connects us to the Earth, observes May. Sync body and spirit with the season by stewing root vegetables, baking breads, sipping hot cider and tea, and nibbling on nuts and dried fruits.  “The repetition of predictable foods is reassuring,” remarks Evans, and it celebrates nature’s transitions. Play Stir-Up Sunday is a Victorian amusement filled with fun, mystery and mindfulness, says Ban Breathnach.  Some December Sunday, have each family member help stir the batter of a special Christmas cake while stating a personal new year’s intention.  Drop a clean coin, bean or trinket into the mix and bake.  Serve it with a sprig of holly on Christmas Day; and the person with the piece containing the lucky charm will be rewarded with a prosperous, wholesome and positive new year, according to tradtion.  Evan remarks, “This is a wonderful ritual for nurturing the health and spirit of the family.” Give Boxing Day offers something far more meaningful to celebrate than post-holiday sales.  Originating as a tradition that thrived during the 19th century, “December 26 was a chance for land owners and homeowners to give back to household staff and local tradespeople,” says Evans.  “It’s a tradition worth reviving to pause, reflect on our own good fortune and contribute to others’ comfort.” Consider serving a meal at a local soup kitchen, collecting items for a food drive or offering a box of healthy culinary treats to community stewards at a fire station, post office or library.  On Christmas Day, says Ban Breathnach, “Our kids have the world lying at their feet.”  Boxing Day, she says, provides a natural transition to reach out in charity.   Article by Lane Vail, a freelance writer and blogger at DiscoveringHomemaking.com

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One thought on “Happy Feasting To All

  1. Christmas Lights

    Red light pokes through Christmas snow as a carpet
    of wet brown dead pine needles softens your walk
    from Usang Apartments to Immundae, where you’ve
    sat, looking at Ggachi in Sycamores for seven years.
    One eighth of the life so far boiled down to a poem,
    a gathering, a suspended, augmented, finally diminished
    goodbye. But this is the season of hello, great merriment,
    brotherhood, sisterhood: of Auld Lang Syne spiced with
    eggnog, turkey, ham, the harvest feast to last through stronger
    longer days, detectable to the naked eye on exactly December
    twenty fifth. My home town got its first four-foot blast in
    November, so those snow-covered lights will diffuse a bit longer
    than usual, emitting just enough color to stop frozen tears
    from forming, and keep long-weary souls enraptured as humans
    long enough for love to bloom again. Fourteen hours of dark
    but interrupted by lights many don’t take down until March. Why?
    Because they know what color means to those who make their
    appearance at Christmas then slink back, unable to match their desires
    to the way the world really works. To them the Christmas Fa La La
    means more than to the carol-leaders. A toast to quiet perseverance.

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Peace, love, bliss kind reader

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