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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Food, the Holidays...and Love.

The holidays are...an interesting time, to say the least. For the past five years, I've worked in some holiday-effected industry through the holiday season. For me, the Holidays start in October and last until January second.  It's long, grueling, and exhausting...not the most fun you can have during a season that's meant to be about giving, family, and love.

But this season I've been trying to keep up with a blog as well, trying to manage my anxiety, and of course, cooking up a storm. Add some writing projects on top of all that and it makes for the busiest holiday season I've ever had. Either because or in spite of the busyness, my perspective this year has...certainly changed. I've been thinking a lot more about changing the emphasis of the season and a lot less about...well, everything else.

I guess it started because of my paycheck-job. Every time I perform a transaction, I ask, "Do you want to donate to St. Jude's Children's Hospital?" and approximately ninety-nine percent of the time everyone gives me a quick, "No thanks." My next question being, of course, "Do you want to round up to the next dollar and just donate your change?" to which I am still very often refused. What is it in people that makes them refuse to donate a few pennies to one of the best charities out there during Christmas? It blows my mind.

So where does food come into all this?
Hold on, I'm getting there.

Holiday traditions are begun out of affection, giving and personal sacrifice. They have been twisted every possible direction but their origins come back to one thing and one thing only: love. It's unfortunate that the gift-giving tradition has become such that we feel pressured to buy very unnecessary items in an effort to appease one another's expectations...especially since the very nature of gift-giving is an effort to show love for one another in a tangible way.

But as budgets get tighter, we have to become more creative with our gifting. There are times that are loved ones have specific needs and the holiday season is a great time to meet them, finances permitting. But this holiday season, what if you went a different route? What if, instead of buying another scarf giftset or gadget, you took your twenty-five dollars and donated it to charity?

And so now we reach the "food" part of this post. A charity like Feeding America can do quite a lot with your  gift-set money, and your loved ones can feel good knowing that the gift was given in their name. Through Oxfam, you can donate a cookstove to prevent deforestation, smoke inhalation, and create international relief. In fact, Oxfam is a wonderful site in general...it allows those who desire to make contributions for international social justice in almost any denomination and way.

I've long felt that food was all about love...the love of ingredients, of flavors and spices and nutrition, but also the love we have for those we provide food for.When I cook for the people that I love, it's a feeling unlike any other. I am creating something for them, something that will make them feel good and happy. It's a gift all it's own.

This holiday season, focus on the simplest thing - love - amidst all the hustle and bustle of the holiday fever. Remember those you love and remember those less fortunate than you. The happiness brought about by even the smallest act of generosity and unselfishness can exceed every expectation.

The Calm Cook

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