Growing up, my mother provided my five siblings and me with magical holiday memories that have stayed with me throughout my life. Holiday decorations, cooking big holiday meals, waking up early to see what Santa Claus had left, and spending time with family — all moments I cherish.
Those years also taught me lessons of what I didn’t want to do as a mother myself. Although our meals were elaborate and fun to make together, I often felt sad for my mom. She stayed up late into the night and was too tired to really enjoy our enthusiasm at 5 in the morning to see what Santa had brought. While we were enjoying our new gifts, she was working away in the kitchen to prepare more food than we would ever consume. It was her gift to us, but what we really wanted was her to come sit beside us and just be present.
When I became a mother, I decided right away to keep things simple. I would prepare a few favorites for the holidays and then call it quits. Plus, I would only prepare food we enjoyed. This simple decision is one of the best that I made for my family and later for my rheumatoid arthritis (RA).