Cooking Classes


Not Another Christmas Recipe

Paris street person's Christmas
My Christmas was enjoyed in essence as an onlooker, a bystander, a non-participant. This is partially because my only camera is in for repairs and without pictures of the meal, the cocktails, the tree, what is Christmas?

Christmas is the day you may begin with photos of sparkling mimosas or a good champagne straight-up with breakfast or brunch. Christmas is the day of 30-pound turkeys. The day of a myriad of hors d’oeuvres, side dishes and desserts. Oh, and did I forget? Gifts galore.

No pictures allows total freedom from pretty food. There is no need for a preplanned menu. There is no sharing of festive ideas on social media or on the blog.

Whether I had an 81-day aged rib steak or a 30-pound turkey really doesn’t matter to anyone, even me. How many sides did I serve with my main? Again, who cares? And if I listen to Sixpence None the Richer or Counting Crows, nobody knows, nobody cares. 

Jerry Seinfeld said it best. “This is the problem, there’s too many things,” Seinfeld began. “You have things, I have things, holiday time, there’s going to be a lot more things.” “All things on Earth only exist in different stages of becoming garbage,” he pointed out.  “Your home is a garbage processing center...Garage seems to be a form of the word garbage”.

Christmas is the proof that the yearlong talk of restraint and avoiding conspicuous consumption is merely that, talk. Do you really believe that elaborate gifts are a measure of love and caring? No, I didn’t think so.

How much did Christmas cost you? How can I say this without sounding like I am bragging but I spent a total of $50 plus that $25 bottle of bubbly and a good steak. I sent six cards and delivered four handmade gifts. Does anyone feel left out? No, I didn’t think so.

What is it like to be alone Christmas morning? There is a deep silence as big fluffy snowflakes dust the firs like powdered sugar shaken from a sifter. It is like my house is in a big snow globe that has been gently shaken and set down carefully not to disturb. There is no frenzy of opening gifts and screams over spilt hot chocolate.

There is no rush to listen to a Queen, a Pope or a politician as he or she lays out the scene of last year and hopes for the next. I always cry anyway. There is no Facebooking my partner who is sitting on the other end of the sofa. I would rather have my vicarious Christmas dinner with Ricardo. Yum, celery soup. I have celery. Or pomegranates. I forgot I have one squirreled away in the crisper drawer.

I am not overly religious yet have enjoyed Christmases past with dramatic cantatas in century old cathedrals or the burning bush on the mountaintop overlooking the 13th century Cathedral of St. Andrew in Amalfi.

I have enjoyed a seafood Christmas Eve and 30 pound turkeys on Christmas Day. I have indulged in turkey leftovers, pies and cakes. As I ate a more reasonable amount of food this year I almost began counting the calories I was saving by eating alone away from the hysteria of the perfect Christmas day of food. One pear hand pie, half a steak, fiddleheads and of course, a handful of shortbread icebox cookies. I didn’t even break a sweat.

How was my day? (Do you really care? No? I didn’t think so but here it is anyhoo) One can never totally escape the drama of family, even if not with them in person. So I didn’t miss out on that, phew! But what I pined for most was my camera for I am also an obsessed documenter of food. There was nothing I could do today but be the critic. I amused myself by scanning the plethora of Christmas meals on Facebook. Sloppy place settings and silverware a kilter, white balance off by a mile, bad lighting and so many moments of pride as the meal was being staged for the camera before sitting down. I only hope it was still hot for the guests! Just saying.

Today is Boxing Day, that vestige of colonialism. Will I run out and grab up all those gifts I didn’t get? Works of art, meat slicers, a onesie pyjama? Buy up the candy-striped spatulas, Nutcracker gift boxes, all the on-sale wrapping paper and cards? Well, maybe. Look at all the money I will save? I have money leftover from Christmas, after all. You have no idea how much I would love to have a meat slicer!

Oh well, perhaps just this one time? 

Nah, I think I’ll just pick up a package of my Miss Sugar’s favourite Friskies treats.

Footnote: I had intended to write a real foodie piece but in keeping with my fuss free Christmas this seemed more appropriate. I don’t feel quite ready to indulge.


  1. Our Christmas was quiet with just my daughter and her husband; a blend of Portuguese and Canadian traditional dishes. Boxing day was a he breakfast, so will roll myself off of the couch soon to take a walk downtown.

    1. I like that. A 'he' breakfast! Nice for a quiet day, isn't it?

  2. I enjoyed this~
    We are all different..everyone has a story:)
    Joys are doubled at Christmas..and sorrows are quadrupled.
    I hope your camera gets fixed so soon:)

    Always close to me that's for sure.So I know what you are missing.

    I can tell you one thing I know for sure..old people that live alone..and are not well..and cannot leave their spot...can use a hug..a human touch.
    It is so easy to hug someone who needs it.And it feels so good.
    For the giver:)

    1. You are absolutely right. That is just this Christmas. Every year is a new story.

  3. I was thinking about you, believe it or not, because I suspected you might be celebrating on your own. We spent the holidays alone as well, and didn't exchange gifts with family. Over the years we went from gifts to cheques to gift cards, and it made so little sense we finally had the courage to say "Enough!"

    Lately we've been following a minimalist approach to life, paring down wherever we can. I like Seinfeld's quote. I like the quiet, pensive time away from crowded shopping centres and mindless consumerism. I'm not happy that you're camera is in for repair, but your post is a perfect example of the refreshing perspectives we may explore when we are forced out of our comfort zone and choose to use the time for reflection. What do we really need? Certainly not more transitioning garbage. Thaks for a wonderful post.

    1. Thanks for thinking about me! It was a blessing to have no camera if only to realize how much I am attached to it. It's easier I think for me because I have no kids or grandkids.

  4. Well Sarah, as I've aged, Christmas has changed at my house. This is the natural progression of life. I did the huge family dinners in the past, but my parents are gone and for some reason that pretty much ended the big family celebrations that went on at my house. Nieces and nephews plus their kids made their own Christmas. My kids have their own lives too far to come home (even if they could afford the tickets for their entire family), one works nights in an ER so that left my daughter and myself. We went out to dinner. Nothing wrong with that, it was lovely. Life changes and we adjust.
    Hope your camera is fixed soon, but when I want a photo and have no camera, my daughter points to her head:'s in there, in your memory.

    1. Nothing wrong with going out for Christmas. And I agree. My best pictures are in my mind's eye. Just a silly addiction. Keeps me busy.

  5. While we did have all of our children home for Christmas (first time in five years), yours sounds delightful. I am much more of a quiet person. I would miss the camera though!

  6. It does sound like you had a nice, relaxing Christmas. It's far from the zoo I run, of course, but that's the glory of life.

    I didn't bother to take pictures of Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, New Years Day dinners - what's the point? Did anyone else care? The menu stays pretty much the same year to year, after all, and it's about everyone's enjoyment. I'm glad Miss Sugar got her Friskies treats, just as Natasha got her bone. Our furry friends give us such non-judgemental delight, after all.

    Happy New Year, Sarah!

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