If there is one thing I love, it’s things with tiny animals on them. Any animal really. Even animals I’m not very fond of–if you put them in cute little clothing or have them ride a bicycle or read a book or something else totally human, I’m in. My adoration for these little critters is made very obvious by our Christmas tree.
The holidays are wonderful in so many ways, but for every wonderful thing, the holidays also present an opportunity for stress. There’s the pressure of giving time and presents to loved ones, additional activities in your busy schedule, and perhaps some financial strain.
For me, the Christmas season has always brought on a double-edged sword of holiday cheer—I want to make the most of the season and do as many fun things as possible, but that can sometimes end up becoming a bit overwhelming. Then, if I slow down too much, I feel regret on December 26th. It’s hard to not give too much of yourself to others and the season without also missing some opportunities for joy. But you also don’t want to run yourself down and ignore your own needs.
In order to find balance, I’ve written this guide for ways you can prioritize self-care during the holidays.
Growing up, Thanksgiving wasn’t really on my list of favorite holidays. I honestly don’t have too many memories of Thanksgivings, and it could be because Christmas has always been very important to my family. I’ve jokingly referred to Thanksgiving as “Christmas 0.5,” because my family didn’t have too many traditions that made Thanksgiving stand out—it was basically like Christmas a month before Christmas, without the great music and cookies and gifts. But the holiday changed for me when I began seeing Jake.
For me, November 1st has long been the first day that I allow myself to publicly express my excitement for the holidays. I’d start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas around the middle of October (Halloween has never been my thing), but I’d keep my mouth shut about it until the next month. After November 1st, all bets are off and you can assume that our conversations may involve gift ideas and seasonal recipes.
Baking has been a hobby of mine since I was little, though I didn’t really start to educate myself on techniques and start making things from scratch until after college. I eased myself into it by recreating some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes by myself (I always baked with my mom as a kid), and I quickly realized that I loved trying new recipes too.
There’s something special about baking in November and December–something about filling your house with the scent of warming spices and heating your kitchen with an oven instead of a radiator. But it’s about more than just the sensations. Baking takes care of you when the weather is cold. It fulfills some needs that I think everybody has, so here’s why I think everyone should bake during the fall and winter.