These are the things I remember.
Christmas carols sung by the church choir. The lit-up Christmas tree below which hand-wrapped presents are scattered.
A long family dinner and then a countdown to the stroke of midnight.
Plenty of food. Lots of laughter, love and happiness.
When I think back on Christmas during my childhood, these are the things that come to mind.
Back when I was still a little girl, all I wanted to do during the festive holiday season was to help put up the huge Christmas tree (which seemed huge only in comparison to my small height), spend plenty of time with my family, eat huge amounts of food and candies, open up hand-wrapped gifts that mum had carefully picked out for us, and have a ton of good fun.
I still want that of course – although times are now a little different.
I no longer live in Singapore, and the last five Christmases and New Years’ were spent across the world from them. But I still enjoy putting up the Christmas tree, hanging twinkly string lights around it, and adorning it with bells and other ornaments. I still love receiving gifts and getting presents for others, that hasn’t changed.
Yet sometimes the holiday season can be stressful – not just for me, but for almost everyone.
There are sales everywhere – twenty, thirty and even up to forty percent off. Advertisements invade your sight everywhere you go – there’s the new TV you want and it’s now on promotion; discounted gym memberships; and supermarket deals – buy two get one free.
It’s easy to slip into stress-mode and worry about whether your family and friends will like the gifts you’ve gotten them- Do the gifts look too cheap? Can I afford buying something better?
Then there are those who host parties and dinners – stressed out with trying to cook the perfect recipe, getting the house cleaned, cooking and preparing days in advance. Is the table perfect? Are the flowers arranged prettily enough in their vases? Will there be enough dessert for all the guests, including uninvited ones?
Instragram and Pinterest and Facebook are filled with picture-perfect shots of the way dinner should be served, or how the house should be decorated. What if my friends don’t think my house is nice enough?
But mostly, the holiday season can be the toughest for those who don’t have anyone to spend it with.
While everyone else is making plans for Christmas and New Years’ – dinner at her place, lunch at his, and drinks and someone else’s – there’s a bunch of people out there who don’t have parties or gatherings to look forward to, and the lack of events for them to attend during the holiday season may create a larger emptiness than usual.
I was greatly inspired by Anna’s note on choosing connection, not perfection.
As a result, I’d like to challenge you (as well as myself) to do a couple of things this holiday season.
Instead of only buying presents, how about being present instead? Take time to be in the here and now, and be fully present in every moment that you’re with someone else. Leave your smartphone away for the moment (Facebook and Twitter updates can wait!), and engage in sincere conversation.
Instead of just sending material gifts, how about sending peace and kindness everywhere you go? Give away a smile, a hug, or an encouraging word? Gifts of the heart are often the most appreciated, I’m a keen believer of that.
Let this season be one of joy, fellowship and communion. May it be filled with love and happiness and plenty of sweets.
Sweets like this deliciously crunchy chocolate hazelnut biscotti.
Think grain-free biscotti made with almond meal, coconut flour and dark chocolate, and interlaced with chunky hazelnuts. That along with a warm cup of freshly-brewed tea.
How does that sound? Sweet, ain’t it?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!
Deliciously crunchy grain-free biscotti made with almond meal, coconut flour and dark chocolate, and interlaced with chunky hazelnuts.
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted (place solid chocolate in microwave for 30 seconds)
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit (180 deg Cel)/
- Combine almond meal, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
- Add the honey and melted dark chocolate to the dry ingredients and stir well until you get a homogeneous dough.
- Work in the hazelnuts with a spoon or your hands.
- Shape the dough into a log on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat (I used a silpat).
- Bake log for 15 minutes and then allow it to cool completely – around 30 minutes or more.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 deg Fahrenheit (150 deg Cel).
- When log is finally completely cool, slice it into finger-sized pieces, place the pieces on their sides, and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Allow biscotti to completely cool until they are crispy before serving.
Adapted from: Paleo Spirit (http://paleospirit.com/2012/double-chocolate-pistachio-biscotti-paleo-vegan/)
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Category: Snacks
- Cuisine: Grain-free