It’s December 16, 2020 on a leaden early afternoon. I’m wearing a comfortable overalls, sitting on a warm bed with a red cat pressed against my side and I listen to a lightly toned song. And I think of Christmas, in a year in which the beliefs, hopes and even desires of all of us have been questioned.
Guest Post by Erika Gulino of Krakenia.
Christmas of Emotion
I’m comforted by the thought that, despite the difficulties of this 2020, Christmas hasn’t lost a shred of its essence, of its evocative power. I realize this by looking around and perceiving a sense of heat expands in my sternum, playing hide and seek between one rib and the other and finally returning to the heart.
I can picture them, houses all over the world, glowing red, gold, green, silver, blue and white; smell of butter, chocolate and lemon zest; prepare for parties with the attitude of someone who wants to overcome melancholy and decorate it with a pinch of joy.
For me, despite the passing of the years, the thought of Christmas has never ceased to accompany the image of Lucullian lunches and dinners with a background of smells, coarse laughter and the shouting of a dozen people gathered simply to be together.
Photos by ©Valentin Petkov & ©Stephen Frank
Back to the Origins
Digging into my memories, my Christmas all boils down to a single and irreplaceable element: my grandmother.
She possessed the extraordinary power of transforming food into a gesture of love, into a caress for the spirit.
With no graceful hands, no fairy movements. She was a woman with the solid constitution of someone who faced some of life’s most complex challenges and came out victorious, not without some ailments and with the knowledge that nothing should be taken for granted. In the kitchen, she moved confidently between the pots and pans and the ingredients, placed them on the cold marble surface and, with her stubby and strong fingers well cleaned, began a ritual of pure magic, the results of which the whole family would enjoy. as soon as we gathered around the same table.
Photo by ©Anastasia Zhenina
The Value of Food
At Christmas, food is celebration, symbol and glue. Around it, the expectations of the diners swirl who, once full, are more willing to forgive a mistake, to put off an offense, to let go of laughter.
The abundance and convivial excess of the holidays, which for some represent the highest expression of joy and fulfillment, become for others a moment of struggle with themselves and their weaknesses; a dangerous opportunity in which to risk being seen for what is truly beyond the mask of everyday life – imperfect human beings desperate for an elusive balance.
Photos by ©Annie Spratt & ©Nonki Azariah
5 Steps to a Happy Christmas
This year, while I imagine the smiles of the children smeared with powdered sugar and the baking dishes filled with delicious leftovers, my hope is that each of us will find a smell or a taste on which to sew the texture of a new memory. And, since I discovered that luck should also be helped a little, I thought I’d share with you some small, precious tricks that can help you rekindle the magic of this Christmas a little strange.
1. Seize the Opportunity on the Fly
You know that recipe that you pinned down somewhere who knows where with the desire to reproduce it for a special occasion that has never arrived?
Here, this could be the time to fish it out and give vent to your culinary skills, perhaps with your relatives. Taking the time to fulfill some of the desires we have set aside, by bustling with too many commitments, could have the power to brighten up a gloomy day and make you remember it as the instant you took the time to experience and, why not?, you have discovered your new workhorse.
2. Pay Attention to the Needs of the Body
Our body is an ally; acts as a thermometer to our needs. If the Christmas air begins to make you want cookies, homemade desserts, more comfortable dishes, pay attention to it. We have faced a difficult year and we deserve some freedom and kindness. Our body, of course, knows it well and tries to make us understand it. Let’s try to indulge it without judgment! If, on the other hand, we were to feel that the pressure of Christmas weighs too much on our serenity, let us not feel obliged to indulge in excesses and keep our habits unchanged. There is no right or wrong way to do things. There is our way, which only we know and can honor.
3. Keep in Mind That the Numbers Are on Your Side
The ninety percent of us live with the fear of gaining too much weight. But… does it make sense? A calendar year is played over 365 (or 366 in the case of a leap year) days. Is it really possible to undo all the efforts of an entire year in a matter of weeks? Are we really convinced that the concessions of this period cannot be easily “recovered” – if there is a need – once the holidays are over? We remind ourselves that the time spent in freedom is much less than what we usually spend in full regime; and that we are humorously imperfect human beings, who must not aspire to please any impossible standard of beauty. We are fine as we are!
4. Be Much, Much, Kind to Yourself
This period doesn’t smell of snowflakes and butter for everyone, nor does it bring pleasant sensations back to the surface. Some of us may feel overwhelmed by the expectations of the holidays, the worries they bring with them, the memories associated with them. First of all, let us remind ourselves that it is okay to live this period differently than others and that this does not make us wrong. We find our routine, whatever it’s, as long as it makes us relaxed and happy. And let’s try not to judge ourselves or, if we just can’t stop ourselves, let’s do it positively. Our flaws are our strengths: who else could carry them as well as we do?
5. Take the Time to Give Gifts
I know that the circumstances would lead to think that it isn’t worth it. Many of us will not be able to see loved ones or friends for some time. This doesn’t mean, however, giving up another kind of closeness. If you can, take the opportunity to support local shopkeepers. I know it’s not the best of convenience to buy little gifts, pack them up and spend hours at the post office for shipments, but it could be an opportunity to keep your days busy. If you can’t, try to support your local artisan. On my Instagram profile, together with the publication of this post, I will show you some retailers to whom you could entrust your Christmas commissions with a couple of clicks.