All joking and holiday humor aside, I give thanks for Paleo every single day–possibly hourly. And, there is no better time to refocus on the value of simple, whole, feel-good food–and simplicity altogether–than the time when families are gathering around tables, sharing meals & memories, passing along traditions & forging new ones.
First, the food:
In my home, holidays have certain smells and textures: Roasting Turkey, Crunchy Sage-Sausage Stuffing, Creamy Pumpkin Pie, and Dense & Decadent Chocolate Cake. To eliminate any of these would be to upset holiday tradition. And, I don’t have the heart to do that.
Luckily, with minor adjustments, all of these can be enjoyed Paleo-friendly. And, as we all know so well, having a Paleo-approved alternative to non-Paleo-friendly dishes is essential to your success and well-being. I get cranky and feel sluggish and weighed-down when I eat mashed potatoes and bread stuffing. So, guess what? I make mashed cauliflower and sage sausage stuffing full of veggies–all the flavor, none of the funk.
I’d like to share my favorite new source with you. See below for all of the recipes you’ll need to make your holiday gatherings a success!
Second, the fun:
I am blessed beyond measure to have my ever-improving health, a man who is 100% committed to becoming the healthiest version of himself, and kiddos who believe that healthy choices rock. So, many of our “fun” traditions are about being active during times of celebration.
You can rest assured that Thanksgiving Day will find my best girl & I 5k-ing (the whole family runs a traditional 5k on New Year’s Eve, too!). My best boys will be outside throwing around a football–perhaps even a fun game of flag might erupt. We’ll all bump into each other in the kitchen stirring this, turning that, and cleaning up. We’ll enjoy conversation and games and the beautiful scenery of our location on post-dinner walks. The holidays are too precious to waste snoozing, though, in all fairness, there might be just a bit of that, too 😉
Most importantly, Less Is More:
I have been a long-time believer in “Less Is More,” and I believe the importance of living simply is magnified during the holidays. In a culture that places too much importance on material items, we have worked to place emphasis on those things we feel most important: family, friends, & charitable contributions.
We live 600 miles away from my sister and her family, which means the time we are fortunate enough to spend together is always quality time. We are aware of each other. We converse. We play. We share. We grow. We love. There is not time for anything else. Because we focus solely on enjoying our short hours together, our visits are always enjoyable and amount to far more than the clock suggests. Our tradition has become DIY Christmas–where we gift each other things we’ve made in the past year. While this may not be every family’s cup of tea, it works quite nicely for my very talented lovelies. Some years there are crocheted items, hand-sewn items, homemade apple butter, personalized wood-worked hall trees, and any number of other creative pursuits. In fact, the memories of making these items and sharing them with our loved ones are among the ones my kids speak of most fondly.
Speaking of gifts, my kiddos have used the Victorian Rhyme to make their wish lists for several years now. It goes, “Something I want, something I need, something to wear, and something to read.” In essence, their lists wind up being a very reasonable four items long. This year they have proposed a twist on the old Victorian rhyme and are wish-listing along to, “Something I want, something I’ll use, something to wear, and something to do.” Even better, in my opinion! This mama loves keeping them active and focused on the non-material! They also each select one additional item to donate to Toys for Tots each year, and they collect their gently used toys and clothes for donation. It’s an instructive, charming, & simplistic system.
We do not usually exchange gifts with friends. Instead, we have always tried to get our kids together to do a fun activity–much like a birthday party for everyone during the holiday break. Some years it works out; others it doesn’t, but the idea is that we celebrate each other and not any material items we might exchange. My husband’s side of our family has discussed this idea for several years, and it seems that this will finally be the year to implement the “time is the greatest gift” mentality. In today’s busy world, we will be very eager to dedicate a day to doing something fun with those who mean so much to us.
Another idea that we’ve discussed among friends and some family members is a date-night exchange. By pooling our parental resources, we will be able to gather our children together multiple times during the year for a fun activity while the couples take turns having a night on the town without worrying about hiring a babysitter! The gift of time with your significant other is another great way to celebrate the simple things in life.
Again, Lovelies, Paleo is not just about the food we eat in my home. It is the embodiment of all things in their simplest possible forms. Quality food, quality time, and quality sharing of all things bright & beautiful. I wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons with your most near & dear! May you embrace the simplicity of the Paleo lifestyle and enjoy good health & good times!