It's moments, not meals, that make for memories


November 30, 1993|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

On Christmas Eve mornings, years ago, my sisters and I would pile into the back of a pickup truck and Dad would drive us to a friend's farm to hunt down our Christmas tree.

We'd cover miles on foot, running from tree to tree, cataloging flaws. Too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, a hole here, a space there. Finally one perfect tree would stand out from all the rest.

Victorious, we'd ride home tucked between branches and tickled by pine needles, singing our Christmas songs.

We'd prop that tree in a wobbly stand, then tie it to the curtain rod, just in case. We'd string the lights and hang the balls, then finish it off with tinsel and a star.

And every year the magic happened. This was the most beautiful tree ever! It was perfect.

But Mom told a different tale. Laughing, she reviewed the years by the craziness of the trees. The crooked-trunked one made the star sit way off-center. The too-spacious one had extra branches tacked here and there. The double-trunked tree had to be wired together and stood in a bucket instead of a stand.

Mom and I had different views of Christmas dinner, too. Grandma cooked the wild goose bagged by Big Bob. Great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all gathered for the feast. For me, it was the best meal of the year. Perfect. To Mom, it was just a gamy, tough old bird.

When my kids were little, I tried to make holidays as wonderful as I remembered. I obsessed over small details. Everything had to be exactly right. Happiness hung on the perfect Christmas.

I became cranky, irritable, impatient and harsh. It wasn't until that conversation with my mother that I saw I'd missed the point. What made Christmas perfect was being together and sharing the fun.

I remind myself of that each year.

As we launch this season, and already-hectic family life collides with mounting holiday pressures, remember, spending time together is what counts.

And to help create more of that time together, here are easy suppers you can make in 10 minutes or less. Spend the time you save on cooking by sitting down to dinner with the people you love.

* Mexican: For each person -- Divide 1/4 cup vegetarian refried beans, 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons sour cream substitute between two large flour tortillas. Top with chopped tomatoes and salsa. Calories: 555; fat: 16 grams.

* Italian: For each person -- Cook 3 ounces fresh mozzarella garlic tortellini with 1 cup brand rancho fiesta vegetables for 6 minutes. Drain. Top with 1 cup chunky garlic and onions $H spaghetti sauce. Calories: 520; fat: 8 grams.

* Vegetarian: For each person -- Cook one can black bean, split pea or lentil soup. Serve with a dinner roll and fresh fruit. Calories: 500; Fat: 8 grams.

For bigger appetites, add a glass of milk, a piece of fruit, an extra roll or a couple of cookies to any meal.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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