Stress Lessons Learned in 2012




What haven’t I learned in 2012.

A major lesson came to me very late this year. On December 25. It’s not important or revelatory. But wait, maybe it is.

I have very little success making Christmas Dinner. I have finally come to terms with this.

It doesn’t matter if I get a fresh turkey, a frozen turkey, an easy carve turkey, a turkey made for idiots to prepare… doesn’t matter, can’t do it.

My Turkey Timing is always way off. By hours. So this year, I planned the earliest Oven Entry ever. Turkey was heating well before 12 noon. Damned if I wasn’t going to have my family consume Christmas dinner at a ‘sensible’ dinner hour (never happens) allowing ample time for a festive dessert and decent digestion.  (Easy details for those who make successful Christmas Dinners, yes. Not easy for me.)

My turkey took 9 hours to cook. We all know this: once The Turkey is way off schedule, everything else for the meal takes a huge hit.

My mass manufactured biscuits (produced for those who can’t bake, like me) supposedly suitable for lapping up gorgeous gravy, were tooth-shattering pieces of rock, a taste on the palate not unlike Elmer’s Glue.

My gravy, appalling. One memorable year, it was imbued mostly with fat, rippling through its mass in huge oily bubbles. Devastating embarrassment, with impressionable guests present.

Little improvement this time. This year’s sauce was grey, transparent, thin, tasteless. Some fat would have been deeply appreciated.

The very thing I want to succeed at so badly – A Fine Christmas Dinner – is something I fail at, time and time again.  After decades I’ve finally realized: wow, I really truly can’t do this!

The comments around the table were kind but pointed. My youngest daughter tossed some flour in the gravy when I wasn’t looking. The other daughter scolded me gently: “Think of all the energy you’re wasting when the turkey is in the oven for 9 hours, Ma.” Even my environmental footprint was under siege.

Most of us have to learn things the hard way. Life Lessons bang us over the head. Over and over and over again. We ignore them. Then, by some amazing miracle (exhaustion? surrender? another bad turkey?) we finally ‘get it.’

Why does it have to take us so long to clue in?

Some other random (but important things) I’ve finally learned  – the hard way – in 2012:

  • Without laughter, we’re doomed. If you take everything seriously, you’re equally doomed.
  • The only person you can change in this whole wide world is yourself.
  • You must never let anyone else ‘take away’ who you are, where you’ve been, what you believe in. Without knowing who you are, sticking up for who you are, having a voice of your very own, you’re merely a passive  weak shell of skin and bones.
  • Do not ignore your gut instincts.
  • Be proactive, not reactive. Stew in your pity and sorry drama for a while, you’re allowed. Then move forward.
  • Remember that each day is a new day. Yesterday was  lousy. Today is great. Life is like that. Especially if you work hard on your attitude.

New Year’s Resolutions? Why bother with new goals when you’re still fighting the endless Hard Lessons Loop? How about working on the lessons you continually fail to learn? Or at least evaluating them? You’ve held on to them for so long!  I’ve tried to make a really good turkey for almost three decades! Does this NOT resonate with you?

I’ve learned, I swear. I may hire a stunning, virile, male chef to visit my home next year and prepare my Christmas dinner for me. Or, maybe I’ll try a $100 a plate “Delicate Turkey au jus with Tender Cranberry Compote, Savoury Stuffing Mound, Tender Chiffonade of Winter Vegetables” at some  pompous restaurant.

What I will not do is make another turkey in my oven.

Will you repeat your mistakes in 2013? When will you be ready to learn your lessons? Do you secretly prefer heaps of stress and drama? Think about it!

Happy New Year!

This entry was posted on Friday, December 28th, 2012 at 8:28 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.



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  1. December 28th, 2012 | Jill says:

    Having admitted that I’m kitchen impaired, I settle for making the cranberries and jello. They are mixed with water and totally impossible to screw up!

    One lesson learned: know they self. When you do you can go with your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses and not get the two mixed up!

  2. March 2nd, 2013 | Fanny says:

    it’s no pumpkin pie… but my godmother taught me how to make this delicious pumpkin roll when I was little. I used to ride my bike over to her house and she would teach me how to cook “secret family recipes” :)Pumpkin Roll3 eggs1 cup sugar2/3 cup pumpkin (fresh pumpkin works best!)1tsp lemon juice and a dash of zest3/4 cup flour2 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp nutmeg (half if you use fresh)1 tsp. baking powder1 tsp. ginger1/2 tsp. saltOptional: 1.2 cup chopped walnutsMix together eggs, sugar, pumpkin and lemon well. Gradually fold in dry ingredients (I always mix mine first and sift). Grease 15×10 jelly roll pan (cookie sheet can work too if it has high edges) and line with wax paper. Pour mixture in pan and top with 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip out onto a large tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar, peel off wax paper while hot and roll cake tightly in towel. Cool on wire rack.While cooling mix together filling.1 cup powdered sugar1 8oz cream cheese2 Tbsp. butter1 tsp. vanillaMix together until smooth (sometimes I add a little lemon zest to this for a nice zing). Unroll the cooled cake and spread evenly on inside, roll cake back up (so nuts are on the outside) and dust with powdered sugar. And, voila, a delicious pumpkin roll that no one can resist!

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