The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 26, 2012

Are you running on fumes?

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Are you running on fumes? Think about it.

Christmas Day is just over. We have picked up most of the wrappings, but have not put things back where they belong. We still have the decorations to dismantle and pack away safely. We thought we would never get through the holidays getting everything done — but we did! Last year we resolved that this year we would be all organized and ready long before Christmas — but we didn’t!

Consequently, as the 2012 draws to a close and a new year begins, we feel that we are running on fumes. It must be that we truly enjoy the hurry and hustle and bustle of the holidays. We think we will never make it, but we meet every deadline and somehow get everything done. We simply pick our priorities and let a few things go. Those things don’t really matter anyway. Does anyone care that our closets aren’t clean or that we didn’t wrap every single present for show and tell?

This year Merry Mary delivered their wonderful cranberry relish and sauce and I did not have their little gift wrapped. I told her I would have to send her a piece of wrapping paper as a do-it-yourself job. She didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Every year we really plan to organize, shop early, decorate with the utmost care and imagination. It is part of the plan to write a letter in each and every Christmas card. We have every intention of baking those traditional cookies and goodies that Grandma always seemed to have endless time to make and enjoy making. And we will for sure get everything done in a timely manner, allowing time for parties, church functions and just time to relax and enjoy our surroundings.

This Christmas, I learned to make Southern Pralines from the master himself, Randy.

Together, we made two large batches and both were perfect. What fun! From now on, I will allow time in my Christmas schedule to always make those.

Running on fumes leaves us wide open to catch a cold or the flu. We don’t take care of ourselves. We don’t eat right nor get enough sleep. We run out of energy long before we run out of errands to do.

It is not just at holiday time that many of us run on a too-tight schedule. Most all year we find ourselves doing too much, rushing too much, planning too much. We have almost become addicted to fumes. We work better under pressure and are more creative — for awhile, until those fumes give way to emptiness. Then we are in trouble, and have to back off and regroup and get some energy from somewhere, or have a meltdown.

We think we are like an airplane and can refuel in midair. We are not airplanes. We have to come to the ground before we can refuel. We have to touch bottom before we can bounce up.

Things seemed calmer in the olden days. My parents and grandparents seemed to have a more relaxed attitude toward the holidays and toward life in general. They took every day and each phase in life in stride and coped with it. They toiled on without being in such a hurried and scurried rush. Maybe they planned ahead better than my generation. Or maybe there was less to plan. They simply enjoyed the time off as a holiday, and didn’t put quite so much dither into it.

When I was a kid, Christmas really didn’t begin until a few days before the big day. We didn’t even decorate the tree until Christmas Eve, with cranberries and popcorn and baked cookies, and hung on string. They were still fresh enough to eat on Christmas after we opened our few presents. Now, those cookies are so shop-worn and dusty, we wouldn’t dare eat them after Christmas because they have been baked almost a month. They are just decorations.

This year, Linda helped me one entire afternoon to do all our shopping. All I had to do was wrap them and label them and enjoy seeing them under the tree. I really waited almost too long, but was surprised at the Christmas sales already taking place. I was happy with everything we found. Randy wrapped presents one evening while he was sitting with Jim, and I had other plans. He did a great job. The lesson here is: don’t come around our house at Christmas or I will find a job for you. Their help was a gift in itself.

It seems to me that part of the joy of Christmas is lost by being tired of it by the day after. We start thinking Christmas about September or before, and wonder why we have burnout by Christmas. I never get tired of hearing Christmas music and Christmas baking. I don’t want to be in too big a hurry to get everything packed away, and the garage back in order and things put away in the attic.

It is more enjoyable to write thank-you notes with the tree and decorations still up. I like to bask in the after-glow of Christmas and take it easy. Those who celebrate the 12 days of Christmas are still thinking about peace on earth and goodwill to men, and not focusing on getting back to normal and in their daily routine again.

Here is a great way to extend those happy holidays and use up leftovers:

Chicken or Turkey Hash

About 11⁄2 cups chopped leftover chicken or turkey

4 slices crisp fried bacon, crumbled

1⁄2 onion, chopped

1⁄4 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1⁄2 cup sour cream

Combine chicken or turkey, bacon, onion, celery, lemon juice and butter in small skillet. Cook until onions and celery are tender. Stir in sour cream and heat just until hot (do not boil).

Sometimes, I have used a small can of cream-of-chicken soup and omitted the sour cream, and it is good, too. Serve over rice, dressing or mashed potatoes.

Don’t let pressures get you down. Think of them as challenges. Happy New Year!

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.