The Christmas Issue…

Ohmygosh you guys. I slept for almost nine hours last night. Amazing. I believe the last time that happened was last March when Chris and I were in Cuba. For some reason we slept like 10 hours a night when we were there. The rum maybe? I swear I wasn’t drunk last night :P

Aaaanyways, there was only one thing that could follow such a stellar night’s sleep. Fluffernutter oatmeal. On top of my TV (watching CBC’s new televised version of Information Morning).


  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla whey powder
  • cinnamon
  • peanut butter
  • marshmallow fluff


MMmmmm… Fluff is so dreamy when it goes all melty on oats…

I put my tofu spread to work for lunch today, by mixing it with… more tofu!


Crumbled tofu (cooked in the microwave for a couple minutes first) mixed with tofu spread, bell pepper, onion, tomato and mushrooms then crammed into a pita.

By the way, I don’t picture everything I eat at work! Well, I don’t picture everything I eat period. I’m a snacker, so there’s a lot of snacks that happen in between meals that don’t get shown on the blog. It’s especially difficult for me to photograph everything I eat at work as it’s usually consumed while doing something. For example, I had some homemade trail mix this morning while sitting in on a government hearing. Didn’t really want to whip out my camera and take pictures of the plain ole’ nuts I was eating. Especially while listening to a presentation on infanticide with the province’s attorney general, ya know?

But I did have time to photograph the crazy delicious supper I made :D


A hummus frittata:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper. chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 2 large mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • dash paprika and onion powder
  • 2 tbsp red pepper hummus
  • 1 piece of whole wheat toast

Sautee the veggies in paprika and onion powder. Beat eggs together, pour into pan, and cook on medium-low heat until mostly solid. Stick pan under broiler for a couple minutes until top is slightly browned. Top with hummus and toast pieces.


I thought about putting the bread pieces in the frittata, but I didn’t want it getting lost in there. And what I really wanted was some toast. Hence the random pieces on top – but it was delicious!! And hummus and eggs are a wonderful combo too :)


The Christmas Issue…

Ahhh….yes. The Christmas issue. It’s one of my November Goals to “get into the Christmas spirit” this year. You see, I don’t like Christmas, and I’ve gotten a lot of questions as to why. I figured I might as well get it out of the way as we’re only getting closer to the damn thing.

I actually don’t like talking about why I don’t like Christmas. Most people who know me, know I’ve never been into it. But I doubt even my family knows exactly why it bothers me. Although, the reason shouldn’t be the least bit surprising to them.

That’s because my dislike for the holiday is because of my family. Wait! I lovelovelove my family to pieces! But that’s exactly the issue.

My dad moved out on the second day of grade 7. I was 12 years old. It was rough. I will never, ever, go into the details publicly. I do not share them with even people I know personally, so don’t expect to ever see it on the blog. Those first few months of my parents separation were, to put it bluntly, awful. Everyone in my family could probably attest to that. Many arguments were had, tears shed, and lives changed forever.

That first Christmas, as you can imagine, was just as awful. It’s something I’ll never forget. My “perfect” family was shattered. None of us were “healthy” in several senses of the word. It was just a very depressing and heart wrenching time for us.

Christmas has since improved with every passing year. My family is apart, but we are all now happier because of it. I would never wish for things to be the way they used to be, because I can see how much better they are now. But that doesn’t change the longing I feel during the holiday season. I think of the happy Christmases I had as a child, contrasted with the awful ones that followed. Now, my holidays are spent between two homes, with two “new” families.

Again, I need to reiterate that I love my family the way it is now. The holiday season just conjures up a lot of emotional issues I have surrounding that dark period in my family’s history. Not to mention, it’s kind of awkward to separate a holiday between two parents. I guess the idea of “togetherness” may have to be modified to fit today’s modern family.


So there ya go. I just totally spilled my guts, and to be honest, feel really vulnerable about it! At the same time, you can understand why it’s important that I learn to overcome these emotions and really learn how to embrace the Christmas season. Everything happened so long ago, and yet sometimes it feels like the wounds are still very raw. This year, I’m going to help heal them a little :)


So to help my efforts in learning to love Christmas, I ask you: What is your favourite thing about the holiday season?

And with that, I’m off to y-y-yoga. Juuuust what the doctor ordered :)

Posted on November 9, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing. I dislike christmas but for different reasons. I despise how commercialized and greedy everyone is/seems to be. I’d rather just use it as an excuse to curl up with the fam over a fire, a good meal, and hot butter rums, but instead, it stresses me out because i feel obligated to buy people things or at least make them something, give them anything just because I have to, not because i want to. Last year, I made everyone cross stiches. The less “important” people got homemade hot butter rum batter. I think those kinds of gifts are more meaningful but unfortunately, less appreciated more often than not. It’s especially difficult for me this year because of time and money constraints. Jodus and I have said we are only going to fill each other’s stockings with little tokens of love instead of buying a “wow” gift. I wish everyone would do things like that instead of having to try and out do each other.


    My favorite thing about christmas is the food, cookies, and warm beverages (spiked with alcohol!).

  2. My favorite thing is probably putting up the Christmas tree. So much fun to do with those you love. :)

    And I agree that today’s family is often very different from what our parents and grandparents grew up with, but you just got to roll with the punches and enjoy the families you have now. I’m sure you do, but it’s always good to be reminded, I think!

  3. Christina Guthrie

    My favorite thing about Christmas is when you and your sisters arrive safely home and we sit and giggle.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. My parents aren’t together so I can relate to Christmas split between two families. It’s gotten even more complicated now that I’m married and we are splitting holidays between three families.

    I spent many years dreading the holidays because it always brought up feelings from when my parents separated. It was very hard. I think I am finally to a point where I can truly enjoy the holidays. I hope that you are able to get there someday too!

    My favorite thing about Christmas is decorating, baking cookies and of course all of the yummy foods.

  5. Wow I can relate to a lot of this, so thank you for posting. I’m dealing with some fun “modern family” stuff now but it’s related to Thanksgiving. And that’s all I’m going to say because you wanted happy.

    My favorite things about Christmas are when people put lights up and decorate their houses (LOVE!), having Christmas morning brunch with Mitch and his mom, and getting the chance to relax for a few days (no work!). And Christmas cookies. I like those.

    And as for my heritage, my favorite thing about Hanukkah is the big party I go to with a bunch famililes I grew up with. It’s awkward at times (see above) but there are so many people to visit (and last year, some vodka-on-the-sly,) that it’s a great time.

  6. i understand where you are coming from on the modern family thing. my dad moved out the september i moved to LA, three years ago, so i was older. i think i missed a lot of the drama and fights that unfortunately my little sister had to experience but it was totally weird to go from 22 years of our traditional christmases (literally, we did the same things, in the same order, ate the same foods, watched the same movies, you know the drill) to doing two christmases and splitting everything up. i am still getting used to it and i still feel super uncomfortable when i think about going from one place to the next. i dont know when/if i will ever get used to it…but what really helps me still love the holidays is enjoying the little moments. going to a huge xmas tree lighting. baking cookies. listening to holiday songs all the time. shopping alone and taking my time. putting up my own little tree. buying a new ornament every year. doing something charitable. throwing a holiday party. drinking hot chocolate with mint baileys. seriously, having so many little moments helps make the whole time period feel warm and fuzzy and happy.

    i hope that this christmas is a better one! it’s not something you should force on yourself by any means. your reasons for feeling discomfort are completely understandable and legitimate. but hopefully it will no longer be something you dislike :)


  7. I love Christmas and the festivities and the food. I love the music and the whole season! My family was a little different in that my grandfather’s birthday was also on Christmas. We would spend individual family time at home opening presents and stuff, then all would go to my grandparent’s house and have a birthday party. So Christmas day was actually very short in essence. I think that is why Christmas Eve is actually my very favorite day during the season.

    I have spent quite a few Christmases away from my family in the past due to living far away, and that is no fun.

    I think you will get used to it more and more as time goes by. It’s really unusual for a family to always be together for every Christmas once kids get older and have their own families. That’s how new traditions get started!

  8. Thanks for sharing that Susan ;-) I was a bit older when my parents divorced (15), but they separated when I was just starting school and I still remember how painful it was to see them apart and going between houses. It was all of course much more than that, just like you, and it definitely made a lasting impact on me because that’s basically all I remember from being 5 :-(

    We all make our families work however complicated they are and however many xmas dinners we need to have ;-)

  9. Thanks for sharing that. Getting something like that out in the open is scary and I understand why you feel vulnerable.

    My favorite part of the season are the smells, the music and decorations. If there is a neighborhood near you where all the neighbors go all out with lights and whatnot, take a ride down the street while blaring some holiday tunes and sipping some hot chocolate! :)

  10. Man can I relate! My parents divorced when I was WAY older than you (27)and things were not perfect for a long time before that. But even now, 28 years later, I really don’t look forward to all our little split celebrations. I still miss our traditions. And to top it off, I really don’t like the commercialism, and how our culture has almost deleted the original meaning of Christmas, which is the only important meaning to me. And I even relate to your statement that your own family doesn’t understand.

    But all that said, I think it is possible to create new traditions, and quiet celebrations. And to do something just because it will make someone else happy. I do recommend doing some quiet celebration just for yourself. Just a little time. Then all the hulabalu doesn’t seem so bad.

  11. Thanks for sharing your story. That must be so hard! I love the holidays because I’m totally nostalgic. Also, I love to be with my family, and the holidays is a perfect time for that. It’s amplified by the fact that I’m all the way out in Arizona and I don’t see my family in Michigan that often. Another thing is that the holidays tend to bring out the good in people (save for mad christmas shopping), and it’s nice to see :)

  12. Aw Susan, my heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry that the wounds are still open and raw. I think it’s terrific that you are going to try to heal some of those wounds this year.

    Yes, as you say the modern family life can be torn apart- my family as well. Until very recently we had to celebrate ALL of the holidays separately, including birthdays- ugh!

    Big hugs.

  13. My favorite thing is the smells – nutmeg, cinnamon, pine, mint…..MMMMMN! Your situation sounds tough, maybe some nice scented candles… :)

  14. Whoa, a hummus fritatta sounds delicious! I might have to conjure up a vegan version with tofu:)
    What I love about Xmas is the just the tradition/ritual of it all–I take comfort in sameness!

  15. Dear, sweet Susan…I’m so sorry about all that drama in your family background…it can’t have been easy, and it IS hard to deal with all the emotions that conjures up every “family occasion”…
    But you know, the first step to dealing with it is to just BE vulnerable, and accept the fact that you can’t do anything, and that it was out of your hands. There was nothing you can do, and there is nothing you can do about it now, but you CAN still have your own sweet family moments…I guess your family will just be in a different, unconventional form. But you’ve still got your mom, and your dad, and both parents who really love you, even if they express it in different ways…

    During holiday season, we sometimes long for that perfect day…we expect things from others, etc…but I hope this holiday season, there is NO tear, NO pain, NO sorrow for you, but just complete, refreshing peace within you…and enjoyment, too, with whatever company you’re with!

  16. I think a lot of Christmas does have to do with the nostalgia factor, so I could see why unhappy memories would make it hard. I love Christmas because it reminds me of all the good memories I have with my family. I like that Christmas still makes me feel like a kid inside.

    I love the food (of course), the lights, the snow, and how warm everything feels. I love Christmas movies and even Christmas carols. I guess I’m just a sucker for the “magic” of it all.

  17. I know EXACTLY where you are coming from. Two years ago, my parents were split up at Christmas. It was one of the single most heart wrenching holidays in the history of our family. I still love Christmas, and my parents are back together now, so we celebrate the holidays together, but in the back of my mind is the memory of that horrible Christmas.

    So light some holiday candles, hang a wreath, put on some Christmas music to help get you in the holiday spirit. I adore all those things, and they really help get you in the Christmas ‘mood’ when you aren’t feeling it.

  18. I’m sorry Christmas stirs up such rough memories for you. I have similar feelings about Christmas for the same reasons (my parents seperated the first week of school when I was 12 too). My mom remarried an Orthodox Jew a few years later so all Christmas festivities stopped after that which was hard because my dad was living abroad, and I wanted to carry on our family traditions.

    Favourite thing about the holidays- I love all the Christmassy foods, the music and the movies on TV :D

  19. My favorite thing about the Christmas season would be gingerbread, eggnog, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin. Plus all the little baked goodies people gift me with! :) I also like getting together with family, though now that my grandparents are gone my extended family doesn’t really get together anymore.

  20. First of all, your breakfast this morning looked AMAZING…Fluff on oatmeal? Unbelievable, I can’t wait to try it!!

    As for Christmas, there are two things that I really love about it:

    1.) The Music: not the cheesy kind you get in the stores when you’re shopping, but the really beautiful Christmas music – try Sarah McLachlan – Song for a Winter’s Night or River two amazing songs!! If that doesn’t get you into the spirit, I don’t know what will.

    2.) The smells: I love the smells of Christmas, pine tree, hot chocolate, anything cooking in the oven (although not exclusive to Christmas) cookies…mmmmm…cookies!!

    Oh and family too…I don’t mean to leave that to last because that’s the most important, but I thought that one might go without saying.


    – Adam @

  21. oh girl, i cannot imagine how tough that was for you to talk about personally. and i completely understand where you are coming from – i have never been in that situation but i can imagine how it would completely shift the foundation of your being. that said…we may not both love christmas, but we both love yoga. and that my friend, happens all year long!

    i love you girl – thank you for sharing and thank you for that hummus frittata. GENIUS!

  22. Holidays are tough, and I’m sorry that you had that kind of experience right at the beginning of 7th grade. That’s a hard time anyway – especially for girls.

    I had a very dysfunctional family growing up and holidays weren’t fun. Even though I’ve been married for a long time to “Mr. Christmas” I still have to work up the proper enthuasism!

  23. hummus+eggs= genius!

    I love that you don’t skip on the eggs either. 2 whole eggs+4 whites is like the perrrfect protein effecting serving size. Love it. Eating that for dinner, like, this week.

  24. Yoga is just what the doctor ordered! It makes so many things better. I have to say I am not a big holidays person either, not coming from a very ‘close’ family…but my favourite part is the cooking and eating (duh)!

  25. Thank you for opening up to us about this. My family is quite similar (my parents also splitting at age 12 and having to split holidays between 2 groups) and like you said, it’s “better” this way; it is hard. Thanks for being honest!

    My favorite thing about the holidays IS family haha. I like when one side of my family or the other gets together with all of our relatives because then it really feels like a big family holiday time, and I love that :)

  26. awe susan, thanks for sharing your story! i always wondered why it was that you hated christmas. i loved reading this! i love your family from what i have read from you and i am glad you are making it a goal to get more into christmas! now.. how about the pumpkin?? ;)

    I MISSED YOU! glad i am back!

  27. Susan it’s Sara your sister here. I just read this and I couldn’t agree with you more. I love christmas because I get to see you all, but there is no way to describe that first Christmas outside of traumatic. I admire that you’re using the blog to communicate these difficult things, though the circumstances around what happened with our family are unique I don’t think some of these feelings (even years after) are.
    What I love most about Christmas is just being around you, jane and mom for that first bit (and dad once we go to his place!). There’s a sense of humour we all have that I don’t seem to share with many others and just hearing us all joke around is what’s so special.
    I think yoga this year would work well…nana can show us some tricks! And don’t know if mom told you but I might be bringing an african guest. xoxoxo

  28. I can’t help but love Christmas, but I COMPLETELY understand those who don’t. It has become so over-the-top commercial in recent years that it is sometimes hard to stomach, even for die-hard XMas fans like myself. I just have really fond memories of it from my childhood. That is really the only reason.
    My parents also divorced when I was younger but oddly that didn’t affect my XMas love (it sure affected other things though!). I can definitely see how that could affect someone. I am happy to read that each year it gets better though :) I hope this one is fabulous for you <3

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