My daughter's employer recently provided an unusual perk: they hired a chef to teach the company employees, via Zoom, how to cook a Bûche de Noël (Yule log) just before Christmas. This sounded terrific to me, but it really added to my daughter's workload. Deadlines had to be moved up and around to open a block of time for this mandatory event.
My daughter is a good cook with a fondness for baking pastries and cakes for friends. Sadly, I’ve never personally tasted them because I’m gluten free, dairy free, and currently following the AIP diet. Needless to say, my daughter and I are eating quite differently. That means I can’t even try her beautiful scones or any of the delicious cakes and pastries she makes. I get to enjoy them vicariously in photos. The photo of her Bûche de Noël proved she can whip up one of those too. With all this cooking for the holidays going on, I was beginning to get very excited about cooking with her in person. I was planning all the dishes we’d make together.
The past year of Covid fun had left me really needing some mother-daughter time, and my heart was set on a simple Christmas holiday together full of good healthy food—a plan that I’m sure millions of other people were also hoping for but didn’t get. She and I spent a lot of time discussing our options but ultimately decided the socially responsible thing to do would be to stay put this Christmas and stay off airplanes. I spent a couple of days feeling sorry for myself, but as she often does, my daughter patiently helped me realize this was the best choice for everyone. It did make me feel better to know I wouldn’t be spreading the virus, and that helped me have clarity to think of a back-up plan. Or to be honest, to steal her employer's idea. If her company could make everyone stop working to bake together, maybe the two of us could make up for our remote holiday by cooking together on Zoom?
There was a lot of back and forth on recipes and what type of food to cook, but the thing that made us both feel the most holiday spirit were Christmas cookies. We decided that she would make Russian Tea Cakes the good old-fashioned way, and I would make a paleo version of the same cookies. So, we prepped together, waited for the ingredients to come to room temperature, got our mixers out, and spent the next three hours talking, baking, talking, and comparing cookies. The best part was that we were focused entirely on each other, on our cookies, and on nothing else. She genuinely had my attention and I had hers. Nothing else mattered. As always, the best part of my Christmas holiday was the time spent with my favorite person cooking up a family favorite, and that’s all I ever need for Christmas.
I share this story with you in the hopes that if you hadn’t already thought of it, you could use it, share it, or make some similar and even better experience for yourself and someone you love. We all need to find more ways to be together yet still be safe. Our mental health and wellbeing depend upon it.