Thursday 19 December 2013

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Have you ever told your child that it's wrong to copy? Yup, me too.  There's no denying that you should never pinch someone else's ideas and claim that they are your own.  It is, however, perfectly acceptable to benefit from others who have greater experience and skills and who are willing to share them (thank goodness for the internet and all those talented folk who contribute to the mass of information on it).

If your cooking and crafting skills are average (like mine), there really is no need to try to do everything yourself from scratch.  Shortcuts are perfectly acceptable.

With Christmas looming ever closer on the calendar, the number of things on the 'to do' list tend to increase one hundred fold.  However chilled out you are, few of us can escape the pressure of being seen to do it all.

Like most average women out there, I want my family to have a fabulous festive season.  I would like to hope that my children will grow up with fond memories of the holidays and of Christmas day itself.  It would be wonderful to think that I could help to create traditions that my children will continue with their own children.

But - and it's a huge but - creating the perfect Christmas does not come naturally to me.  So what is an average but keen girl to do? Answer: Cut corners and copy. Oh, and recognise your limitations. I can usually tell from a quick glance at a new recipe or craft idea whether it will result in stress or success. I've become an expert at weeding out the 'easy but effective' projects.

During the last few days, I can give you two recent examples of being a copycat, taking a few shortcuts, but still feeling great about the end results.

Example 1 is the festive wreath that currently adorns our door.  For the first time, I "made it myself", however the design wasn't entirely my own idea... Having ordered a fresh wreath from our wonderful local green grocer last year, I took a snap of how it looked at the time, kept the non-perishable parts in a box all year and recreated it myself this week with some laurel and holly that, fortunately, grow on our doorstep.

My first DIY holly wreath - sort of.

So did I cheat? Will, yes a little.  But I still feel better than if I'd bought a completely new fresh or artificial replacement.  Next year, I might even embellish my imitation design a little more.  I also feel that using my existing resources was less wasteful and kinder to the environment. Dare I say it, the whole process of tackling it at the kitchen table even made me feel a little more festive.

Example number two comes via a recipe for a twist on mincemeat pies sourced from the wonderful Mortage Free in Three blog.  Although my pies didn't quite look the part of those featured in the recipe, I'm determined to try them again soon as they really tasted rather good.  When my little lad, who loves his Christmas pies, asked "Did you make them all yourself?", I nodded proudly that I had. 

Cue his next question: "But did you make the mincemeat yourself?" Well no, I had to admit.

Not so few Christmases ago, this type of comment would have tipped me over the edge into a bad mood and a swamp of feelings of inadequacy.   This time, however, I was quite happy to "fess up".  Mums, I explained, need to have time to work and play too. They can't always do every little thing themselves. This was accepted by my little lad very easily.

And the moral of the story is? Sometimes, just sometimes, the main person to blame for piling on the pre-Christmas pressure is yourself...

Have a wonderfully average festive season.

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