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It’s that time of year again. The time of year from late October through early...

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year from late October through early January when it’s all about the food. OK, let’s be honest; it’s all about the food pretty much all year. But there’s a hefty concentration of holidays, festivals, and celebrations in the fall and early winter, each with its own set of culinary offerings and traditions.

I say bring it on.

Many of us harbor memories – both good and not so good* – with holidays and their associated foods. The year the cookies turned out best. The year of the turkey disaster. The first holiday with in-laws. And so on…

It makes sense. Many of us return home for the holidays and in doing so, expect to find those familiar sights, sounds, smells, and flavors we associate with home. Food is a reminder of home, comfort, and safety. Food is nourishing.

We turn to things like homemade chicken soup when we have a cold. We seek out our childhood favorites when we need to feel close to loved ones. My Mom’s meatloaf does it for me. Or chicken pot pie. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches are just the things to warm bodies and hearts on a cold, snowy day, no matter what your age.

But food does so much more than nourish our bodies. Food nourishes the heart, the mind, and the spirit as well. Food made with love by people we love can make us feel cherished. We bask in the warmth and comfort of not only the food but also the love that went into its preparation. Just as easily, food made and served in anger tastes, well…different. It tastes like anger. Or any other emotion you want to plug in there.

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Think about it. Think about the mindset and emotion you experienced the last time you made a meal. Was it positive, loving, or joyous? Or filled with anger, upset, or resentment? I have observed many times over that the results of my culinary efforts have everything to do with how I feel and how I am as I prepare it. Everything.

Benjamin Franklin said, “A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” He was stressing the importance of learning, of feeding the mind. I would further that idea to include the heart and soul as well. Just as our bodies need food for nourishment, so do our non-physical selves. The positive associations we assign to food are a good place to start, but food for the mind and soul is just as important to our growth and health as food is for the physical body.

At this hectic and emotionally charged time of year, it is important to care for our whole selves – bodies, minds, and souls. The stress of festivities and gatherings can leave us drained. It’s important to find ways to relax and recharge. But after getting through the holiday stress, it’s important to continue to fully nourish ourselves all year long.

Maybe an evening walk or morning hike enlivens your senses. Maybe creative endeavors such as dancing, writing, or painting are the thing for you. Are you moved by music and literature? Do you love to play a sport? Play with Legos? How about cooking or baking, since we’re talking about food here? Yoga? Meditation? Jigsaw or crossword puzzles? Woodworking? Welding?

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The possibilities are endless, and I suppose the short answer is different for everyone. And it probably doesn’t matter what you choose. But it is important – perhaps crucial to our human potential – to choose something that stirs your soul and brings you to life.

Enjoy your holidays – in whatever manner you do and with whomever you hold dear. And in the midst of it all, remember to feed and nourish yourself in body, mind, and spirit.



Previously Published on OTV Magazine and is republished on Medium.



The post The Most Flavorful (and Stressful) Time of the Year appeared first on The Good Men Project.