Christmas 2004 is now a thing of the past and we will soon be into another year. Now we just sit back and wait for the bills to come.
We hear a lot about adults being under stress during the holiday season but we forget it can be a bewildering time for little people, the under 6 group, also. Many stories appear and we adults repeat them thinking they are so cute but to a small child it can be stressful.
I remember my small granddaughter, age 3 at the time, coming to visit us in Arizona for Christmas. The first thing she said to me when we picked them up at the airport was, "Grandma, I won't be in my home for Christmas, will Santa Claus know where I am?" She was worried and we had to reassure her that Santa knew exactly where each child was.
That's just like the little boy in the T.V. ad who was worried about Santa not coming to his house because he didn't have a fireplace. It is a legitimate concern; we didn't have a fireplace when I was very small and that used to be a worry of mine as a child. I couldn't see him coming down the chimney and landing in our space heater in the living room or into the kitchen stove.
Having two older siblings I soon was put straight to the Santa business and realized the biggest worry in our household was getting Dad out to do his Christmas shopping. Having lost our mother when the four of us were very young and my father not remarrying for seven years, it was very important to see that Dad did get out to do his Christmas shopping.
Like all men he left it till Christmas Eve and back in those days stores stayed open till the last shopper left. Dad would tease us by saying he was too tired and would stretch out on the sofa. It was very stressful, but with a huge sigh of relief we finally pushed him out the door. He was an amazing shopper and the tree was always surrounded with wonderful gifts come Christmas morning. He seemed to know what gifts to buy each of us and he was tuned into our needs right to the day he died at the age of 90.
Something was startling to me this year, and that was the expensive gifts television was pushing for people to buy. Of course, it was up to people to do what they wished. The average shopper according to surveys would spend around $700 dollars.
You need it, get it, you want it, buy it. That seemed to be the theme. Where is all that money coming from? The catch always seems to be "you don't have to pay for it till 2006 or 7" . . . now who are they fooling?
One Christmas my sister-in-law sent us a card and inside it said, "this year your gift will buy three goats for an African family in need". Now that is really avoiding stress. I'm not advocating we don't exchange gifts, but, I for one, feel the advertisers put a lot of pressure on us and especially on parents. I was a cruel mother; I used to tell my kids if it is advertised on T.V. don't ask for it because you won't get it.
One person I talked to had a list with 35 names on it. Now that is stress. I read a saying recently that said, "if it weren't for stress we'd have no energy at all."
With New Year's Eve coming up, and very soon I might add, to avoid stress you might wish for some easy suggestions for entertaining. Here is a very elegant but easy recipe.
Sauteed Chicken With Pears
and White Wine
I made this recipe for company and it was a hit. Serve this vibrant combination with rice or linguini. Just add a green vegetable for colour, hot rolls and there is your dinner.
1/4 cup butter (50 mL)
2 pears, peeled and sliced in eighths
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 boneless skinless, chicken breasts
1/4 cup dry white wine (50 mL)
1/2 cup whipping cream (125 mL)
2 tablespoons brandy (25 mL)
On medium heat, add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet. Add pears and sauté until softened, about three minutes. Reserve pears and set aside, add remaining butter. Season chicken breasts and add to skillet. Cook 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Add wine and reduce until 1 tablespoon remains. Add cream and brandy and reduce till sauce is slightly thickened. Return pears to skillet along with any juices and reheat.
I read a book recently that was by an English author and in the book the lady of the house would invite friends over for a kitchen meal.
For a quick and easy supper for family or guests around the kitchen table this delicious chowder would fit the bill. Serve with thick slices French bread and a tossed salad and lots of happy conversation.
Pantry Seafood Chowder
1 can (5 oz./142 g) clams
1 teaspoon vegetable oil (5 mL)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 package (400 g) frozen fish fillets, partially thawed and cut into bite size pieces.
1 can (10 oz/284 mL) cream style corn
1 can (385 mL) Carnation 2 per cent evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste
Drain clams, reserving liquid, set clams aside in large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, cook onion, stirring until softened. Add reserved clam liquid and potato, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until potato is just cooked. Add fish, corn and evaporated milk, cook, stirring, over medium heat for 6 or 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork. Stir in clams. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot. Makes 6 servings
Served on top of rice, this is a wonderful recipe for all occasions.
1/3 cup of almonds, chopped and toasted in 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil. set aside
2 tablespoons chopped onion and 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper, cook in 1 tablespoon butter until tender
Add 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, 1 tin of mushroom soup (undiluted) and 1/4 cup milk. Blend well. Add 1 6 oz can deveined shrimp and 1/3 cup sour cream. When well heated add toasted almonds and serve over rice immediately. Serves 4.
This recipe can also be used for leftover cooked chicken or turkey and can be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd.