Much of the world has been celebrating Christmas season since the beginning of December, but the really special days for those who celebrate are Christmas Eve (December 24th) and Christmas Day (December 25th). Much of society closes down between the late afternoon of Christmas Eve and all day on the 25th for church services, private family dinners and opening gifts. Christmas Day is usually when most stores, shopping malls and many other amenities are closed saved for gas stations and some restaurants. It’s a quiet and peaceful time, which is lovely in and of itself as an observer, but what about when you’re on the outside looking in and not partaking in any of the ceremonial or celebratory engagements?
Well, you can do all sorts of fun things with your family and friends during that time- in fact, it’s a fabulous opportunity to create special memories with your loved ones by doing something you might not otherwise have time to do over the course of a couple of days.
This year, Christmas falls over a weekend so there’s even more time to make it into an extended holiday! Here are just a few examples of ways to spend it:
1. Have a potluck dinner for family, friends and neighbours. This is a great way to bond with one another and get to know those you don’t know well enough. Some people who celebrate might be all alone on Christmas and others may not have any plans at all. You never know unless you do the asking, inviting and entertaining. I believe these kinds of occasions make our lives so rich in many, many ways. This Creamy Tortellini with Chicken, Peas and Sun-dried Tomatoes is one idea for a potluck dish made with Zabiha Halal chicken that is sure to be a hit with everyone. It’s festive, but not fussy, making it an ideal recipe to make for a crowd. I think pasta dishes with chicken are ideal for gatherings because they’re comforting, warming and also filling for a crowd.
2. Head our to a convention or conference to attend a lecture or visit the grand bazaar to do some shopping. In Toronto, RIS is a very popular one for the whole family. You can do some clothes shopping, browse new products, stock your bookshelf with the latest Islamic publications, pick up beautiful home decor, and meet friends in a fun and exciting atmosphere. And, the bazaar usually has free admission!
3. Have a family movie night to catch up on all the wonderful documentaries about food, health and wellness and the environment. This is a link to a list of my favourite and most recommended ones. There is so much to learn from these. Get out the homemade popcorn!
4. Take the family on a fun excursion close to home, or do it at home, if you can (i.e. make it a staycation)! You can go bowling, ice skating, sledding, tobogganing, or cross-country skiing and make it a competitive yet fun time to team up as a family.
5. Rent a cabin in the snowy, forested woods so everyone can explore and enjoy the outdoors. The best part will be the indoors cooking together, followed by sitting around the fireplace and simply embracing the opportunity to gather.. When I bunker down in a cozy cabin, I’m in the mood for real wintertime comfort food: soups, stews, lasagnas and other types of baked dishes and casseroles like this Cranberry Dijon Chicken Wellington using Zabiha Halal’s Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts and since cranberries are still flavourful and found easily at most markets, this is the perfect seasonal recipe to make that just oozes comfort, homemade food. Be sure to make your own Dijon Mustard, as most store varieties will have wine in it. You can get the recipe to make your own in my recent cookbook, My Halal Kitchen: Global Recipes, Cooking Tips, Lifestyle Inspiration.
At the end of the day, any of these quiet time activities can be used to get closer to those you want to spend time with and to create memories that will last a lifetime….
Written by: Yvonne Maffei, My Halal Kitchen