The beginning of baking season

Well, Thanksgiving is over, though I don’t have much to show for it outside of a still-not-put-back-together kitchen and a quick snapshot of my cooked turkey. Years ago, I started hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family and it just kind of stuck. Those early years I remember being more fraught with stress, having been not very well practiced at cooking so many things at the same time to feed a house full of people. This year, though, I think I can say I’ve successfully mastered the process, and the whole day was relatively uneventful in the best way imaginable.

Our tree is already up and has been for the 365 days prior. It started off with the kiddo – January and February are so bleak and dreary, and they convinced me to leave the tree up a bit longer to help counter the post-holiday blues. But then, before too long, my winter depression became extra spicy and, before I knew it, it was almost May. And, honestly, by that point, I just made peace with it staying up. It was more work than it was worth to take it down just to put it right back up in 6 months, so it stayed.

I’ve done little in the way of decorating anything else. The boxes of holiday decor are somewhat taunting me from the basement. Some of it I really should just go through and get rid of at this point, as it hasn’t been put out for a few years now. Other items I’ve put out yearly only to wonder why, exactly, I’m doing all this work just for extra things to clean around and extra work to put away. It’s the way things go with my brain, I suppose – some years longing for festive decor all over, other years needing a more simplistic season.

Simplistic it is, this year.

I started my holiday baking today. I got it in mind to gift people cookie boxes with a variety of holiday baked goods to enjoy. So, today, I started in on a batch of dough, which I will freeze and then pull out in another 2 weeks or so when I can go on a baking binge so they’re all fresh for gift giving. It seemed like a good idea, at least, when I tried to do holiday gift shopping and got overwhelmed by all the literal junk in the stores. And, yet, I’m sitting here feeling like maybe homemade food gifts – cookies, spice mixes, canned goods, etc – isn’t good enough. There’s a bit of second guessing, I suppose. Will my gift recipients care? Not like their gift? Be bitter they didn’t get something “better”? Will it be seen as cheap, even though materials, time, and labor all cost more than whatever it is I could buy at a store? It’s forever the dilemma of handmade gifts, isn’t it? Whether it’s food-based, hand knit, or hand sewn, it’s always the same fears.

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