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celebrating with friends

The holiday season definitely feels different from how it did when we were kids, but that's a good thing, right? Yes, the wide-eyed wonder of Santa and the North Pole (I hope I'm not ruining it for you when I say he doesn't exist) and abundant glee from a mountain of gifts (now I wince when I look at my budget) are gone, but in its place is an opportunity to create a different kind of meaning. Not only do I appreciate family so much more, but there's a certain kind of magic in the celebrations we have with friends. Here are people with such different personalities who aren't tied by blood, creating meaningful bonds of their own, deriving joy from sharing time and traditions.

This weekend was a great reminder of that. I decided to bake a family favorite—the Malacañang Roll—as my contribution to a Thanskmas dinner. I'd never baked it before and have only made maybe two other cakes in the past five years or so, but decided to do it. What ensued was a comedy of errors. Oh I had fun singing at the top of my lungs to Taylor Swift (I went through both the 1989 and Red albums) and waving a wooden spoon around the kitchen, but when my filling wasn't thickening after a full forty minutes of stirring I got worried. So worried that I called my grandmother at 6:30 her time to ask what I had done wrong. After a lot of laughter, she said she had no idea. It eventually worked, so that should have been that, except that the icing decided not to cooperate either! The result? A truly fugly cake.

The perfectionist in me was wincing, but being surrounded by friends and holiday décor and all-around good cheer made me forget it. Trying out what everyone else made, talking about our plans with our families… While I sometimes miss feeling the way I did as a kid, there's so much more gratitude these days, so much kindness (in large acts and small) that completely flew over my head. And that's pretty wonderful too.

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