It’s that time of the year again. The time of red heavy coats outside and the overdose of cinnamon, candied fruit and chocolate (and a little booze) inside. As you might know by now, being raised in Iran, I haven’t grown up with Christmas. Traditionally it’s not celebrated by the majority of Iranians. During the eighties when we were children, we knew it was Christmas time because there would be Mickey’s Christmas Carol on TV and that alone was a legit reason to wait for Christmas every year.The first couple of years of living in Rome taught me a lot about Christmas, specially how it’s celebrated in Italy. It’s remains inside the family, the sacred family, your own family (first & second cousins included) and your in-laws family (first & second cousins included).
Years passed, and it grew on me like good habits you try to insert to your daily life do. Like waking up early and having breakfast can make their ways to your morning routines and stay, I have inserted Christmas to my yearly ritual, and it’s here to stay.
I don’t have childhood memories of Christmas; I have never wondered if Santa really exists or not. I have never waited by the fireplace hoping to find a long, colorful stocking full of presents. But I have learned how to cherish Christmas. I love that collective image of the wintery-snowy woods, with little animals (often chewing on nuts), tiny lights and tiny snow flakes motives, that deep emerald green and that velvet ruby red. I love smelling the burning wood and hearing its crackling sound and think it feels like Christmas.
I love cracking walnuts and almonds open. The warm smell of oranges, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and anise star sets my soul free and mulled wine filled with these essences is a drink from heaven to me.
The one thing about Christmas that I really don’t like is that crazy & avid rush towards the shopping malls, long lines, misusing a huge amount of money on Christmas Gift shopping. Most of the times they turn into soul-less, did-my-duty sort of gifts. The gift giver remains with stress and a headache from all that SHOP-SHOP mayhem and probably much less money, the receiver might be content but wouldn’t really feel warm at heart, and the only ones really happy would be the big people of the big companies who have made bigs sales in the holiday seasons.
In the years of learning to love Christmas, something that has really touched me is making your gifts with your own hands. Bless the ones who first thought of this. And since it’s the season to eat and drink and being merry, what would be a more delightfully generous gift than sharing, sparing and creating something to eat or drink? From scratch, with care, obsession and attention. Perfecting it time after time. This warms up my heart in the chill of this season and makes me smile from deep down my soul. It would be a mindful Christmas, in every level. Get your hands busy in crushing, stirring, brewing and whisking the tokens for your loved ones. Create your own edible Christmas gifts and meditate while you do so. Let this season bring you inner joy. Not just headache and stress from never-ending work to do. Sign your gift “Home-made with love” and rest assured it’ll be more than cherished.
This year I have (so far) created these three gifts. I have kinda thought about a menu; A cocktail to start with (pomegranate gin), a seasoning for the main dish (various types of flavored sea-salt) and a condiment for dessert (clementine curd). Cookies are also all-time favorites and you can pile them in pretty tin boxes. Last year I did a LOT of chocolate cookies/ornaments. You can make candies, chocolate truffles, and toffies. I have particularly liked these awesome quince paste bites by Juls’ Kitchen. This years I’m all about jars and bottles that I have collected during times. So my gifts are bottled.
And by this, I give you my early Christmas greetings. Have a great one everybody! Continue reading