Just the Beans, Please

Many years ago I made a green bean casserole for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m not sure what compelled me to make it, but, no matter, it came out of the oven looking like the picture on the “Classic Green Bean Casserole” recipe I’d found and followed, and I was happy.  After the meal was over, I remember asking a family member how she liked it and she said something to the effect of “ohh, maybe next time you’d leave the crispy onions off and…well…I don’t think it needs the cream of mushroom soup either…you know?  Wouldn’t that be good?!”.  Her sincerity and encouraging tone made it slightly difficult to compute that she was actually telling me she didn’t care for what I’d made and would have preferred green beans sans casserole.  I couldn’t help but laugh…later.  It was the kindest criticism I’d ever received and as much as I wished the dish had been a winner, she was right: green beans in their original form would have tasted much better.

When I think about that story, my two takeaways are: 

  1. Telling the truth as beautifully as I was told my casserole wasn’t good is an art.
  2. Keep things simple.

I think of these throughout the year and especially at the holidays when families gather, celebrations and festivities abound, and retailers offer sales that put a twinkle in even the most frugal of buyers’ eyes.  There are often a lot of extra pulls on our energy and time as well as blurred lines between needs and wants. In preparation for all the holiday fun/drama, I encourage you to anchor yourself in something that brings your focus back to what this season is really about when family tensions run high, you’re shopping at the last minute for a gift you can’t find, or you realize you don’t have the one ingredient you need and you can’t get to the story before your company arrives.  If you’re unsure of what kind of grounding tool might work for you, I’ve found this to be a good place to start: