Tag Archives: Christmas

A Very Overdue Post About the Holidays

We weren’t able to visit family for the holidays thanks to work schedules, so we decided to hunker down and enjoy some quality time with each other.

This post covers the day before Christmas through the day after, IIRC. I wrote it but never got around to cleaning it up and posting it! It’s now rather poignant given the Alan Rickman videos we watched…

We tagged Christmas Eve Day as our junk food and movie-watching day:

Movies (and other TV ephemera)

  • Trading Places
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (paused halfway through for nap reasons)
  • Moon (not a Christmas movie; just something we’d been saying we wanted to watch for ages)
  • a few episodes of The IT Crowd
  • The Great Santa Claus Switch (a 1970 musical Christmas special featuring The Muppets. With Art Carney, who I suspect was drunk during filming, as both Santa and the bad guy, Cosmo Scam. Also the first appearance of a Muppet who would later be named Gonzo [in the special, he was called Snarl and wasn’t an alien].)
  • a TED talk about happiness
  • various videos on YouTube, including Marillion’s “Carol of the Bells” and Texas’s “In Demand” (possibly the sexiest video ever because Alan Rickman is in it) and Alan Rickman making tea

Junk Food

  • hot dogs for lunch (organic grass-fed beef hot dogs on whole-wheat buns, broiled and topped with melted Havarti, sauerkraut [for me] and organic ketchup, because we are not heathens) (okay, yes we are. But still.)
  • crab dip (cream cheese and crab meat mixed and topped with a sauce of ketchup, horseradish, garlic powder, and lemon juice) on Triscuits*
  • party rye bread (party/appetizer rye bread squares topped with a mix of mayo, parmesan, and onions, broiled)*
  • homemade baked mozzarella sticks (I used this recipe, http://www.thegunnysack.com/baked-mozzarella-cheese-sticks-recipe/, except we were out of panko crumbs so we just used regular breadcrumbs, and I added some dried parsley. It was waaay too much flour and breadcrumbs, so we’ll probably halve those amounts next time.). Dudes, these were sooooo good—so much better than store-bought/frozen, and not all that hard to make. A keeper recipe. Noms.
  • jalapeño poppers (store bought, and a letdown compared to the other food).
  • subs for supper (except on cheesy rolls rather than hoagie rolls, at Ken’s request. However, I was too full and did not make one for myself. By that point, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to poop for days.)
  • ice cream (we are hooked on Talenti brand ice cream and I can’t conceive of even looking at another brand, it’s so good)
    *party food my mother made during my childhood.

Funny story aside #1. In high school, one New Year’s Eve my friends and I spent the night at Laura’s house; her parents went out to a party. (Attendees were Teri, Laura, and I; I’m not sure if this was the year Bridget was there, the year Patty was there, or if they were both there the same year. I’m not even sure how many years we did this. Honestly, I remember several New Year’s Eves in high school/college that I spent alone at home. I’d watch a cheesy 80s fantasy flick on video, watch the ball drop, then write my novel on our Apple IIe while listening to Styx on my boom box. Because babees, I knew how to party.)

Anyway. Laura’s house. Teenage girls. Parents gone. Liquor cabinet not locked. Crème de menthe is really good in hot chocolate is all I’m sayin’.

The next morning, the cat walked on the piano and everyone but me was hung over and groaned in agony. Me, I was hungry. So we crawled out of our sleeping bags and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. Everyone else ate cereal and complained that their Rice Cripsies were too loud. Me, not being fond of sweet things for breakfast (plus who was the evil bastard who created a ticking time bomb of food as a breakfast option?), well, I pulled out the leftover crab dip I’d brought for the previous night’s shenanigans. Because I was a lazy teenager, I’d just mixed all the ingredients together, which had created a pinkish-red blob of cream cheese with lumps in it.

Nobody else at the table thought this was a good idea. Shades of green appeared. I muahaha’d and hunched over my delicacy like Snoopy pretending to be a vulture. Mine, all mine!

Funny story aside #1a. Every single time I try to type “crab dip,” I type “crap dip.” This is not a commentary on the appetizer itself.

Funny story aside #1b. When I was little, I knew the word appetizer, and I knew the word my mother sometimes used for “appetizer,” which was pronounced “whore derves.” I also knew, from books I read, that there was a weirdly spelled word that meant appetizers, which in my mind was pronounced “horse d’overs.” I remember the day I figured out they were the same word, and it was magical. Choirs of angels, &tc.

Right. Where was I? Oh yes, holiday fun. Let’s move on to Christmas morning.

I ate crab dip for breakfast (see Funny story aside #1) and it was gooood, man. No regrets.

The theme for Christmas, at least for me, was booooooks! Bookity bookity books. My preciouses, let me hug them to my ample bosom and sing to thee. Ken looked at my wish list (the WishCentral.com version, not knowing that I’d recently moved much of it to Amazon, but thankfully the books were in both places) and then went to Powells. And somewhat to his chagrin, Powells had more of the books than expected. Although he says because most of them were used books and thus cheaper, he spent less than expected. So that’s good, right?

Funny story aside #2. Christmas tradition in our family was that on Christmas Day, we turned the TV to the Yule Log Channel and everyone was required to stay in the family room all day with the tree and the presents (except for my mom, who got to escape in order to cook supper). There was no retreating to one’s cozy bedroom to read one’s books in solitude, oh no.

This would have been acceptable if I got books for Christmas, but I almost never did. My mom likes to read a bit, but other than that, I was the weird outlier of a voracious reader. Once I started to transition out of childhood “gets toys for Christmas,” I was fucked. I was bored, and not interested in adult conversation (my sisters are seven and nine years older than me, so by this time, they were adults), and not able to get to my (small) stash of books in my room.

One year, I received, among other things, a couple of horse statues (I was horse mad as a child), a nonfiction book called Famous Horses and Their People (see, e.g., being horse mad), and a bell for my bike.

Once present-opening was done and the long dark teatime (without tea, even worse) of the soul of an afternoon commenced, I read my book.

As in, the whole book.

I possibly read it a second time. I sort of played with the horse statuettes, but they were two different kinds (one was sort of bronzeish and the other was plastic), and I knew they were really for display, and I had no other dolls or similar implements available to turn this into a full script.

So I proceeded to morosely ring my bike bell until my father roused from his nap in his recliner and took me out to the garage where he deftly affixed the bell to my bike.

We lived in upstate New York. It was below freezing in the garage. Even if I had the desire to shiver, teeth clattering, in the garage to continue ringing the bell and dreaming of summer, nobody else would have to put up with that incessant noise.

Smart man, my father.

I think the fact that I relayed this story more than once this December has something to do with the piles of books I received.

I should also note that I did not receive a bell for my bike. (For the bike I have yet to buy. Goals.)

Funny story aside #2a. Ken did, however, buy me this Minion on a stick that, when you press the button, sings in Minion language. It’s Stuart, by the way, holding his ukulele. Unlike my father would, Ken finds it utterly adorable when I press the button and giggle hysterically at the song.

Right. Back to the present.

Ken also found a used CD store nearby. Halloo, British version of the Chess soundtrack (among others…).

Plus tickets for indoor skydiving in a wind tunnel I’m so excited I can’t even! Eeeee! https://www.iflyworld.com/portland/

I got Ken, among other things, a contraption that stirs natural peanut butter, because the only reason he won’t eat natural peanut butter is because dealing with the oil separation is too much of a hassle for him.

Because I know how party, people.

Meanwhile, there were phone calls with various members of family, including my eldest niece who got to give everyone in the family the gift of the announcement that she’s pregnant with her second child.

Strangely, I am now a fan of the Yule Log Channel, or in this case, a free app on the Apple TV (there are paid versions, but I’m not sure how they can be better, except maybe they have music, which the 1970s/1980s Yule Log Channel played). It makes crackling fire noises, and that’s enough for me. And my idea of Christmas afternoon at home is curling up in front of whatever fire is available, even if it’s on a TV screen, and reading. Which we did.

Until it was time to shower and dress and go out to dinner with friends (Gayle, Trent, and Jeanne) at the Zeus Café, which is in the Crystal Hotel, a McMenamins property dating to 1911.

We had the best waiter ever. I finally figured out he reminded me of Peter Capaldi as Danny in Local Hero, one of my favorite movies and which solidified my love of Peter Capaldi back in 1986. Except he didn’t have the Scottish accent. Our waiter, I mean. He was efficient and smart and attentive and patient and funny. We tipped him well.

They were out of the goose (sadness!) so Ken had the salmon, which I’d considered, but instead I ordered off the bar menu and had a falafel burger, which was topped with feta tzatziki and a dash of Aardvark Hot Sauce, and it was stupendous, even if it wasn’t proper Christmas supper food.

The best part was hanging out with friends, and I’d insert a funny story here about Gayle wanting one of the enormous chandeliers and the long conversation we all had about how to obtain it (culminating in asking our wonderful waiter for it, but he explained that he’d already called dibs on it), but you kinda had to be there.

Also, the first cocktail on the bar menu really sneaks up on you. And apparently wipes your memory of what was in it (it was really good, though).

Eventually we came home (after dropping off one friend and hanging out for awhile) and determined that it was too late to watch White Christmas, so we watched the Doctor Who Christmas episode and then Ken fell over and I watched a Florence + the Machine concert that just happened to be on TV right then, and then I came into my office and wrote this before I forgot any of it.

I’ve still probably forgotten some of it.

But it was awesome.

Except for the part about not seeing family, or friends other than the friends we did see.

Ken’s off work for the week, but I have work I need to do tomorrow, and we have a few errands to run. But it’ll still be a quiet day, hopefully also with a minimum of Internet and a maximum of time together.

And reading. Because boy howdy, do I have a pile. (And Ken has a few, too.)

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What’s on your holiday playlist?

Even though I sing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” at Halloween, I love me the heck out of the Christmas holiday season—and you know me, I love heck out of music. Here are some of my favorite holiday songs…what are yours?

  1. “All I Want,” Styx
  2. “All I Want For Christmas,” uh, the kid from Love Actually (I really need that soundtrack!)
  3. “The Chipmunks’ Christmas Song,” The Chipmunks (stuck in your head yet? hate me yet?)
  4. “December Will Be Magic Again,” Kate Bush
  5. “Dickens’ Dublin,” Loreena McKennitt
  6. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Band Aid
  7. “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” Loreena McKennitt
  8. “I Believe in Father Christmas,” Greg Lake
  9. “Mid Winter’s Night,” Blackmore’s Night
  10. “Ring Out, Solstice Bells,” Jethro Tull
  11. “Ring the Bells,” Styx
  12. “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” Bob & Doug McKenzie (and a beer…in a tree!)
  13. “Wizards in Winter,” Trans-Siberian Orchestra (it inspired my story “The Queen of Christmas”!)

(Yes, this is a repost from a few years ago. I still love the heck out of holiday music, dammit!)

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First holiday story of the year

Sometimes you get an idea for a story but you just can’t figure out how to execute it. The underlying idea in this women’s fiction/crime story has haunted me for years, but I only recently figured out whose story it was to tell. I hope you enjoy it.

Clap Your Hands webEsme Blaylock, missing her deployed husband, wants to be curled up in her warm home with her baby daughter on Christmas Eve. Instead she’s at an upstate New York prison, assigned to interview Jennifer Duschanes, who poisoned her own children one year ago.

Jennifer sees a kindred soul in new mother Esme, and for the first time, reveals why she committed her heinous crime.

The truth will change Esme forever.

Available in ebook format from these fine establishments:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Omnilit | iBooks

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