about December traditions, which are important.
So, I made it five Holidailies in a row before I missed a day. I think it’s funny that the one day I didn’t write was Sunday, when I lazed around at home all day, but it’s probably because I lazed around at home all day that I couldn’t think of anything to write about unless it was whining about still feeling sick. (I’m still feeling sick. It’s so freaking annoying.)
Here are some things that have to happen every December:
- In addition to all the various animated specials and classic holiday films, at some point I will watch the following five movies: Little Women (1994), Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Love Actually. I love them all unabashedly and make apologies for nothing.
- Relatedly, the 1981 hardback Illustrated Junior Library edition of Little Women, inscribed “To Liz, on your 10th birthday, Love Mom”, is rarely out of arm’s reach the whole month. Some years I re-read it start to finish, some years I just read random chapters, and if my house ever goes up in flames, this book is what I’ll be going back in for.
- Another important book: Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book. This is the basically the best Christmas book ever, full of classic short stories, poems, carol sheet music, even recipes, and of course, Rockwell art. There is always some time spent reading aloud from this book. (A perennial favorite: the Ogden Nash poem “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.”)
- I make (and eat) gallons of Chex Mix. I only ever make Chex Mix in December, but I make it pretty constantly throughout the month. Seven ingredients: Rice Chex, Corn Chex, peanuts, pretzels, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoned salt. I used to measure everything very carefully but now I just eyeball all of it and it comes out fine.
- Either on my birthday or the next time I see my mother after my birthday, I make her tell me the story of my birth. From having contractions in the middle of the night and waking up my dad to tell him they really needed to decide on a boy’s name, to my dad stopping on the way home from the hospital to buy me a toy giraffe so I’d have a Christmas present (I wasn’t due until January), to my brother dealing with my existence by bouncing on the bed and asking for his apple juice in a baby bottle.
- We make the same cookies every year. Grandmother Wineland’s sugar cookies (my great-grandmother), which include the typical 1930’s instruction “flour to consistency” and the recipe makes about 800 so by the end of the day your arms are ready to fall off from all the rolling out and you’re baking the scraps instead of rerolling to cut them into trees or angels or whatever. Chocolate chip, the standard Toll House recipe except with shortening substituted for half the butter. Peanut butter balls, which are peanut butter and powdered sugar and rice krispies rolled together and covered in melted chocolate. (There used to be butterscotch lace cookies, but they were my brother’s favorite, he’d stack three on top of each other and eat them all together, and my mom can’t make them anymore.)
- The Pope and egg nog. We are not Catholic but we started doing this sometime in the mid-90’s, staying up to watch the tape-delayed Midnight Mass and drinking egg nog out of wine glasses. One year the Harrisburg station decided not to air it – they showed some car race instead – and the paper December 26th reported a record number of phone calls complaining about it. One of them was ours.
- One thing that does NOT happen is that the presents do not go under the tree until the morning of December 25th. One year my parents put them out ahead of time and I made them take them all away. (Like, this was not when I was 12. This was when I was 35.) Santa doesn’t show up early! Seriously, WTF.
I wrote this while listening to…
A Family Christmas by The Piano Guys
I have realized that I’m basically a terrible music reviewer, because I can’t think of different ways to say this album is really great. But: this album is really great.