Forget the festive expectations—here’s a recipe for a stress-free Christmas dinner.
I know this is not the right thing to say as we move into the festive season but I really dislike Christmas cake and pudding.
It’s the squishy fruit thing, like the sultanas, raisins, dried apricots and fruit peel that I don’t enjoy. Ugh!
I appreciate the effort that goes into making the cakes and puds, and I understand the tradition of special family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, but I just don’t appreciate having to eat them. Many, many times I have been offered a piece of some treasured version with the promise that I will LOVE it. I never do. Not if it has squishy fruit in it.
This is why many years ago I began searching for a Christmas dessert for our family that doesn’t contain said squishy fruit. I decided to try a recipe featured on the cover of a well-known food magazine. It was an ice-cream cake of some description with chocolate, sprinkles and stars. It was relatively easy to make and was a hit with the family, so I thought I had found a winner. But when the next year’s magazine came out and the cake on the cover was also fruit-free and looked worthy of a try, I found myself attempting yet another new creation. That appeared to set in stone our family tradition that every year I conjure up a new and magnificent dessert for our Christmas meal.
It has been a fun adventure along the way, including the year I made two desserts before reading that the recipes were designed to feed 38—which was great, except there were just six of us to eat them! Then there was the time that my creation was so large I needed to take the shelf out of the freezer to accommodate it.
Around this time of year I look forward to the Christmas magazines to see what delicious-looking dessert I might attempt. Imagine my dilemma last year when every recipe I liked the look of contained either squishy fruit or allergens we can’t have in our house (sigh, nuts). My lovely husband ventured to suggest a repeat from a previous year, but my reaction was a firm, “No, every Christmas I do a new dish. It’s what I do.” So I spent ages trying to find just the right recipe.
As I thought about this, I started to wonder why I was so determined to adhere to my self-imposed tradition of a fabulous new sweet creation every year. Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean everything has to be done a set way all the time.
This reminds me of the Christmas story and how God broke with the usual expectations of how a king should be born. Traditionally, the birth of a king would take place in an extravagant palace with many dignitaries and political influencers invited to greet this new important life and future world leader.
God announced his son’s birth through a multitude of angels, but it wasn’t to VIPs or celebrities. The angels told a group of shepherds and these humble people were the first to see him, this new king born not in a palace but in an animal shed.
It set me thinking about the traditions I hold so important and the reasons why I—and so many of us—are under such pressure to get Christmas ‘just right’. If God could cast out tradition and the expectations of what a king’s birth should be like, then I don’t need to stress over what dessert I serve. The most important thing is to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. But I will still take a quick look at what the dessert recipes are in this year’s magazines!