Ba Hum Bug or Why I Hate The Holidays

I used to love this time of year! When my kids were little, Christmas was a blast! We always decorated the house and put up a tree. We had certain traditions that we carried on through the years; new traditions and old traditions from when I was a child. We made cookies and popcorn cake. We made handmade pizza on Christmas Eve and watched Christmas movies like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and the original Grinch That Stole Christmas and others. We always had a little talk about what Christmas was all about and we watched a little movie about Jesus. Seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces as Christmas approached was amazing which made up for the work and stress of preparing for this special day!

As the years went by, the holidays became more stressful and less fun because the kids were older and you know how hard it is to shop for teenagers! They are very hard to please at times and it was so stressful trying to make things special for them. They were never, EVER, ungrateful but things just weren’t the same as when they were small.

After the kids left home and started giving me grandchildren, I started getting excited again about the holidays. But things went sour after only a couple Christmases and well, I won’t go into that because it’s still very raw. I got 2 Christmases with grandson #1 and now I rarely see him. I don’t even have a relationship with him. I’m not treated as family but more of an outsider. I got a few Christmases with granddaughter, but now she is being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, which means no more holidays with her. (For the record, I don’t have a problem with JW specifically.) I do have a relationship with my granddaughter, though. She’s my sweetheart and we are very close. Grandson #3 is out of state with his mother. I can understand no holidays with him because kids and their parents move out of state all the time. I have to say I feel robbed not being able to celebrate holidays with the other 2 grandkids since they are both just 30 minutes away.

I haven’t put up a tree in probably 6 years. What’s the point? It’s just my dad and I and maybe my son for a short time. I always buy a few gifts but it’s just not the same without the kids and grandkids. It’s depressing and I just want to crawl in a hole until it’s all over and the new year starts. You may be thinking I should put up a tree anyway because it might make me feel better. Well, maybe. But maybe it will make the depression worse. I don’t know. Besides, I am disabled and I just can’t be doing that kind of thing anymore.

Anyway, I just grin and bear it and wait for it to pass….with a little help from my therapist and Captain Morgan.

Ba-Hum-Bug and cheers!

 

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Photo Courtesy of Captain Morgan

 

A Fond Christmas Memory

For some odd reason, I don’t remember a lot about our Christmases growing up. Oh, there are a few things I can recall like the little Life Savers ‘books’ Santa would bring us, the Christmas coloring books and brand spankin’ new crayons, the candy canes, and the gift my sisters and I got to open on Christmas Eve. It was always new pajamas, or a new outfit to wear on Christmas Day. I don’t think we appreciated it then as much as we do now. I don’t remember too much about any gifts I (we) got, or if we were disappointed because we didn’t get what we wanted. Those things just aren’t important enough to remember.

The fondest Christmas memory I have is the time we couldn’t afford a tree or maybe we just waited too long to get one. I really don’t remember that part. My mom, being the creative and crafty person she was, noticed the GIANT pine tree on the side of our neighbor’s yard which had a broken branch. It was HUGE! I don’t know if Mom asked the neighbor or not but she went outside and snatched up that humongous branch and brought it in the house! She trimmed the branch so it would fit in the corner of the living room. She propped it up, and if I recall correctly, she had to secure it to the wall to keep it from falling! We decorated it with our usual holiday ornaments, tinsel and star on top and that’s the ONLY Christmas tree I remember as a kid! It was an awesome Christmas tree! It’s great how Mom made sure we had a tree that year. I’ll never forget it.

Homemade Pizza!

When my children were small, I decided that I was going to create my own family traditions for the holidays. One of those traditions is homemade pizza on Christmas Eve. It’s very simple really. If I’m pressed for time, I buy the pre-made pizza crusts but homemade from scratch is sooo much better! All you need is a good crust, a good sauce and your favorite toppings and then you’ve got your own homemade pizza! Here’s my recipe:

The crust:

4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups warm water
2 envelopes yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
 
Mix the yeast and warm water, then add the sugar. Wait for the yeast to begin to get bubbly. Then start adding the flour until all is combined and the dough is slightly sticky. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let the dough rise in a warm area for about 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured area and knead with your hands about 5 to 10 times. Roll the dough to desired thickness and put in your pans. I normally bake my pizza crust for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees before putting sauce and other toppings on. This keeps the dough from getting soggy. It doesn’t always get soggy so you don’t have to do it this way.

The sauce is a bit more difficult to put down since I actually just throw it together, so if you have a question just give me a holler!

1 (28 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, crushed
2 (28 oz.) cans of tomato sauce
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or 2 teaspoons garlic powder (or both, if you love garlic like I do!!)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (if you like your sauce on the spicy side!)
1 – 2 teaspoons sugar (if you like your sauce on the sweet side!)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste (If your tomato sauce has added salt you may not need to add more.)

Notes: I wouldn’t use both red pepper flakes and sugar. Choose one or the other. You can choose to add finely chopped onion and bell pepper, sliced mushrooms and ground Italian sausage. If you like your sauce chunky, leave chunks of tomato, mushroom, bell pepper and onion in the sauce. If you like it smooth, then run your veggies in the food processor with a little tomato sauce before adding to pot. It’s just all about what YOU like and tweaking this recipe (or any other recipe) to satisfy your own family’s tastes. This sauce doubles as a Spaghetti Sauce so make a batch and then save some for your pizza! 

Let your sauce simmer while you prepare the pizza toppings. (It’s best if it simmers for at least an hour.)

Toppings:

I use a combination of Mozzarella and Monterey Jack chesses, Parmesan and /or Romano cheese, pepperoni, Genoa salami, anchovies, black olives, mushrooms, bell pepper. You can use whatever your heart desires! 
 
When your pizza is topped and everyone’s hungry, bake it at about 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.
 
Ta-da! Our Christmas Eve Tradition is alive again! Enjoy!