I love the holiday season - it all starts around Thanksgiving and then we get to celebrate a New Year. The last two months of the year sure do make it seem like time goes by rather quickly because before we know it, we will be approaching 2014!
Last night I was thinking about the holidays and why things are so special around this time. When you only get to celebrate something once a year (holiday, event, birthday), things are much more appreciated (or at least they should be). The time that goes into cooking, the extra effort to show someone that you care about them and the planning that goes into making sure that everyone is happy and safe. I could go on about why I feel that we should enjoy the holidays and not feel restricted, guilty or depressed when it comes to the diet and exercise routine but it really just comes down to understanding that every year we get the privilege to enjoy the holidays because we have made it through another year.
I'm sure most of you flip on the Christmas Story on TBS around this time of the year and watch at least one showing of the movie as it airs for 24-hours straight. If not the Christmas Story, one of my favorites, the National Lampoons Christmas Vacation would be among the all-time holiday favorite movies.
I'm sure you have seen one of those movies dozens of times but yet every year, you watch it again and laugh as if you are watching it for the first time. After 364 days, you forget little details but are quickly reminded of why you enjoy watching it - because it makes you feel good. Sure, you could watch the movie anytime during the year - April, July...but there's something special about watching a movie that was meant to be enjoyed around the holidays. Watch it too much throughout the year and come December, you will be burnt out and may even be annoyed as to the thought of watching it again.
This is a good example as to why I enjoy having those "occasional" times in life to enjoy different things - food, places, events. It just makes everything that much more special knowing that a year or so has passed and the same (yet new in a way) opportunity to make more and new memories is gladly welcomed.
Since Karel's family lives in Czech Republic, the holidays can be a sad time for him as I am sure you would feel the same way if you haven't been home in 13 years. One day, I hope to share Karel's story of how and why he came to America with only a backpack and wanting a better life for himself but for now, I am happy to share pictures from our Czech Christmas. I really enjoy experiences in life that present an opportunity to make memories. Every year since Karel and I started living together, we make his traditional Czech meal which includes fish, potato salad (w/ root vegetables) and Vanocka (Czech Christmas bread - similar to Challah). Of course, there are a few modifications (tofu for my protein and no fish soup made of Carp like Karel had when he was in Europe) but overall, the traditions are still there and it is a nice opportunity for Karel to share stories w/ me as I enjoy his family traditions. Of course, no Czech Christmas would be complete without cookies so every year we anxiously await a package from Karel's mom, filled with homemade Czech cookies. This year, she did not disappoint as we were amazed by the 26 different varieties of cookies, all prepared with love. Karel's mom started on the cookies near the end of November/first week of December and mailed them to the US about 2 weeks ago. She packages them very tightly in a container and although most of them are beautiful when we get them, it's the broken ones that taste the best!
Always keep in mind that through a balanced active and healthful lifestyle, you can make memories every day. Therefore, no matter what holiday you choose to celebrate or how you choose to do it, it is during the holiday season that we are quickly reminded that our daily lifestyle is a direct result of our daily actions. Always enjoy yourself on a daily basis but consider how you can find comfort in saving a few things in your life for the special occasions. For most people, life brings stress, busy schedules, uncontrollable emotions, exhaustion and restless evenings. It's easy to get too wrapped up the hype of living and forget how to slow down. Even through that busy time, sometimes we find ourselves gravitating towards those "occasional" items and not really enjoying them like we should.
The holidays should be a time of happiness, love, good health and relaxation- thus a perfect and appropriate time to take full advantage of those occasional items that can be enjoyed with a healthy mind and body.
Thank you for checking out our pics - Happy Holidays!
A taste of "winter" - Sunday's first workout included removing frost from the car.
My homemade Vanocka. This year it came out better than ever and tasted great! I'm still struggling with the dough and getting it to rise properly so the bread was a little dense but still delicious!
I follow this recipe. One day, I will make it with Karel's mom to see how the expert makes it.
I LOVE this picture. Karel took this on 12/24 when he got home from work. I was still working at the hospital and I couldn't stop laughing at our "guard" dog. No one has a chance trying to steal our Czech cookies!
Plate 2. The two plates are only 1/2 of the amount that she sent. We will try to pace ourselves this year...although we always say that and it never happens. They are SO good!
A beautiful dinner spread, shared with my Czech hubby. I always love to hear his stories like when Karel was young and he would steal cookies from his mom as she was making them. Of course, telling her that he is just making sure they taste ok when he was caught.