As I prepare for Christmas Day, I can’t help but notice just how different this holiday season is from all others before it. I don’t think the difference is just because I’m eating paleo now, but more because I am living paleo. This shift in my mindset, in my approach to nutrition and to life, has permeated every decision during this holiday season. I find myself actually having fun, laughing and taking great enjoyment out of time with family and friends. Even with a sick toddler and a cold of my own, I feel an absence of stress that I normally associate with this time of year.
One big change from previous years is the absence of Christmas baking. I used to bake 6 or 7 different cookies, squares and truffles. I also participated in cookie exchanges. Every afternoon, we would have a cup of tea with large plate of baking in front of us. The kids would be strung out on sugar and chocolate. The adults would have huge sugar crashes and then eat more baking after the kids were in bed. This year, I just didn’t do it. There are some sweeter paleo baked goods around because I am working on some new recipes, but these don’t contain much sugar. No one seems to miss the baking. I would have expected a revolt, but not one really seems to mind feeling good. Weird, right?
I am also keeping up with walks with the girls, outside play time and my yoga classes. I’m not letting the pressure of Christmas shopping or baking or decorating interfere with this very important aspect of our lifestyle. So, we’re getting exercise and fresh air and sun exposure, and sure enough, we all feel pretty good for it!
Now, I have a confession. Unlike many paleo enthusiasts, I never did throw out all of my neolithic pantry items. This was for two reasons. First, without complete buy-in from my husband and with the challenges of my very picky older daughter, I didn’t want to make such a drastic change in their lives. I like to think of this process as a “weaning” off of neolithic foods. Second, we are living on too tight of a budget to make throwing out food feel like an okay thing to do (yeah, yeah, if it’s food that is making us sick, it should be easy to throw out… but I still can’t bring myself to do it. I just settle for not buying any more.). But these neolithic ingredients have been very useful! My girls and I had a great time making salt-dough decorations for the Christmas tree. And I did use up a lot of ingredients making some of my old Christmas cookie recipes for my neighbors (let’s file that under budget conscious instead of poisoning my neighbors with gluten and sugar).
As for Christmas day? I am planning on making the Paleo Parents’ monkey bread recipe for breakfast (with some eggs scrambled in grass-fed tallow on the side). I loved my Thanksgiving Dinner so much (especially the Eggplant and Wild Mushroom Stuffing) that I decided to cook a similar turkey dinner for Christmas. I’ll keep the side dishes simple so that we can go for a lovely walk once the turkey is in the oven. I’m excited about some of the gifts that I bought for my daughters and my husband and glad we decided to be a bit stingy this year (so I’m not too stressed about bills in January). I’m thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions and I feel excited to tackle some new challenges. Yes, this is a very different Christmas. I’m actually truly enjoying it!