Christmas Freak

The merriest corner of the Internet

Mariah Carey

Hark! Were you aware that we have been graced with a modern day herald angel who has decided to appear to us first in the following form:

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and later in this updated form:

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a divine being who sleeps on a lofted throne of the softest terrycloth, surrounded by humidifiers set up for the sole purpose of lubricating her vocal chords so she can spread the Christmas gospel via not just one but two Christmas albums; who owns at least two off-the-shoulder Mrs. Claus outfits and whose signature choice of footwear is the clear high heel adorned with feathers, a shoe that’s best classified as an angel’s slipper, and whose hair is so golden it emits a glow that approximates a halo?

Hark! Did you know that if you play All I Want for Christmas Is You twelve times on repeat, a dozen lambs will spring from the womb, joyful and bleating; that if you listen to Mariah singing O Holy Night alone in a room with a single candle flickering in the dark, a family of mice will link arms and hold a vigil; that if you put on her 1994 recording of Silent Night at the stroke of midnight, a bowl of plums will crystallize into candy and a partridge will pluck a sprig of boswellia and carry it aloft to roost at the top of a tree, auguring an age of peace and tranquility? Go ye now and add a little more happiness to the world by experiencing the modern day miracle that is MC.

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Multicolored Lights vs. White Lights

Allow me to metaphorically sneeze on your powdered sugar and enter the long and storied debate that has divided households, fostered strife among communities, and spurred acts of rebellion and protest, by offering my humble opinion: I think you should consider multicolored Christmas lights.

This is not to say that I don’t like your elegant white string lights or your matching silver garland or your symmetrically hung silver ornaments or your silver reindeer candle holder or your silver napkin holders and immaculate porcelain table settings etched with doves—on the contrary, I would call the aforementioned items year-round décor. But only once a year is it socially acceptable to saw down a tree, bring it inside your house and cover it with shiny things, so why not include a little color and allow yourself the possibility of stumbling across your tree in the middle of the night while getting a glass of milk and being stunned by the beauty of its lights twinkling in a dark room the way I imagine the stars do above the north pole at Christmas, multicolored and unabashedly bright, speckling the ceiling with iridescent gumdrops.

A Humble Rosemary Plant

Or rather, a small edible pine tree that smells of roasting chicken.

The Lost Art of the Christmas Card

If you’re wondering if you should send out Christmas cards this year, even at this late date, the answer is always yes. Yes, you should buy a booklet of Christmas stamps. Yes, you should splurge on the fancier cards with red envelopes. Yes, you should use the juiciest pen you own and pause thoughtfully after every sentence to make a nice ink blot, and yes, you should begin with Dear and end with Warmest Wishes, and yes, you should be shamelessly sincere. I would very much like it if you included a family photograph, preferably incorporating giant bows and Santa hats, and of course you should include your pets in said photograph, also wearing said bows and said hats. Yes, I would like to hear how your life is going. I would like to be reminded of your children’s ages and the names of your pets. I would like to hear about where you traveled this year and where your kids are going to school and what you and your partner are doing for work and for play and if you are happy. Yes, I would like to know the name of your grandmother who passed away this year (I’m sorry) and yes, I would like to hear about what she meant to you and what you miss most about her. Yes, it’s okay if you send it by email and yes, it’s okay if it arrives in January. A merry greeting in any form is always welcome.

Wishing you all a warm and merry Christmas.

 

Love Actually, Actually

Stock your fridges with milk and canned food because I’m about to storm on this party. Love Actually actually isn’t good. Too many plot lines, most of them upsetting and antithetical to the Christmas spirit. The deceptively cheerful DVD cover does not warn the viewer that half an hour in, Emma Thompson is going to discover that Snape has been cheating on her. Very sad. Not festive at all. Nor does it warn us that Keira Knightly, who seems to be blissfully married, is going to kiss her husband’s best friend, giving him hope that she will one day dissolve her happy marriage because said friend showed interest in her. A cruel and incomprehensible choice on her part that’s disguised as harmless because it takes place on Christmas and is swathed in seasonal cheer. Most baffling, though, is the story of the young man who has to travel to America to meet women because we are told he has no redeemable qualities other than his British accent, which is only appreciated in the U.S. What kind of Christmas lesson is this? I concede that the Liam Neeson plotline is okay, though the airport scene is silly and overblown at best. If you absolutely must watch a depressing film that happens to be set on Christmas and stars Snape, may I suggest watching Die Hard instead? The cover accurately depicts the contents, and the ending is far more gratifying.

Cross Country Skiing

Theoretically a wholesome and peaceful December activity, skis gliding over the snow so quietly you can hear the birds twittering, the wind rustling the pine needles, the icicles drip drip dripping, etc, etc, heart filled with inner tranquility and well wishes for the world. In practice, uphills are impossible, basically skiing in place a la NordicTrack, or forced to walk up hill making a V shape with legs, very unnatural, sweating, groaning, complaining, molesting birds & wildlife. Downhills are terrifying, skis floppy, easily derailed from narrow parallel tracks, causing a slow motion face plant. Snow wedged in shoes, sleeves, collar of jacket. Damp socks.

Best Version: Here Comes Santa Claus by Elvis Presley

I never liked this song until I heard Elvis sing it. He clearly recorded it in the kitchen because his voice sounds like BUTTER.

Shopping Malls

It’s so gauche to like malls these days. Why? They contain the entirety of Christmas, broken down into its individual components and displayed year-round—gifts, cinnamon buns, cards, ribbons, fancy paper—only pre-wrapped and not free. While everyone else is going on a hike or engaging in intellectual activity this weekend, I’ll be gliding across the white tile floors of my local mall without shame. I’ll be sampling all of the perfume in the department store and sitting in the massage chairs at Brookstone for as long as I desire and riding the escalators up and down and up and down. The best parts of life are the ones that bring us pleasure.

Twisted Pajama Bottoms

They get wedged in the crook of my chimney flue, if you catch my drift.

Everyday Fruitcake

I always thought I didn’t like fruitcake until I realized I was eating it on a weekly basis without realizing it. In fact, I have one in my bag right now.

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If you think you don’t like fruitcake, or if you do like fruitcake and have finally finished digesting the one you ate last season and are ready for more, may I suggest trying a Lärabar? They have fancy names, but are all essentially dates, dried fruits, & nuts whirled through a food processor, pressed back together, and called “cookie” flavored. And they’re actually good! The only improvement my discerning palate would make would be to add a handful neon green cherries, a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a splash of rum. I’d age it for a year, package it, and call the flavor “Classic.”

 

Meg Ryan

was probably born in a cable-knit sweater. When she takes off her sweater, there’s nothing underneath except softer, more exquisite cable-knit sweaters. I’m not sure where she is or what she’s doing, but I hope she’s curled up on the couch, tired after a long day of dragging her Christmas tree down Broadway and up the stairs of her little apartment, and now that it’s done, she admires it and sighs nostalgically, gazing out the window at the snow falling outside. Maybe she spots a star and wishes on it: When, oh, when will I find my sweater soulmate? Eternally cozy Meg.

The Back of the Tree

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This is a divisive subject, one that might ruffle some partridge feathers, but I’ll just come out with it because here at Christmas Freak we don’t shy away from the tough issues: Does it really need to be decorated? I think of it as the tree’s built-in spare room, existing solely for excess tinsel storage. If I’m feeling particularly sentimental, I’ll hang a sad, bottom-of-the-box ornament on a rear branch, but I otherwise concentrate my efforts on the front of the tree because this is the 21st century and I’m too busy Google street viewing the North Pole to worry myself with formalities.

I need a velvet dress

Burgundy, if possible, and absorbent for wine spills, and plush, so plush, like the original upholstering of the seats in the Mariinsky Theater on the night the Nutcracker debuted.

Grocery Stores

Guest post today at Eat Genius!

I confess. I go to the grocery store every day—sometimes twice a day, sometimes to different stores to pick up items that cannot be found in the same place, sometimes to the same store to pick up an additional item or to merely meander the aisles and admire the gleaming abundance, in which case I like to dress appropriately in long johns and a belted sweater coat that best approximates a robe, for everyone knows that grocery stores are the everyday proxies for Christmas morning.

One must always use a cart in a grocery store. I like to glide beneath the fluorescent lights, feeling the fine mist from the vegetable section collect on my eyelashes as I pass. I breeze through the mountains of produce, gleaming with ripeness, as though the bounty of the world has been harvested, boxed, and presented to me in a lavish display of gifts. I fill my sleigh with exotic and out-of-season fruits—a purple banana, a celebratory pineapple; the height of true luxury. I sample all of the cheeses in the dairy section, sometimes taking seconds if no one is paying attention, and fantasize about fireplaces stacked with logs of charcuterie, mantles strung with bulk food dispensers; elves noshing on microgreens and tempeh, while a frost blooms over the freezer section windows. In the distance, a row of checkout scanners bleeps the beginning of an almost recognizable Christmas carol.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

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I often fear that this blog gives you the wrong idea about me, so let me clear the air. I love all autumn holidays, not just Christmas. I truly the value the three-day weekend granted to us on Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre Christmas, otherwise known as Labor Day, the gateway to the season. I collect challah, honey cake, and babka recipes all year long in anticipation of the High Holiday Pre-Pre-Pre Christmas feast. One of my favorite ways to celebrate Pre-Pre Christmas is to carve a nativity scene into my pumpkin, dress up as an elf, and go to Rite Aide while everyone else is trick-or-treating, to watch the employees pack away the unsold candy and fill the shelves with ornaments, tinsel, and wrapping paper. I adore Pre-Christmas, which exists primarily for stuffing & pie recipe testing, and marks the date when radio stations can finally embrace the festive spirit sans angry grinch callers…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We’re only at Pre-Pre Christmas, and on years when I don’t have a Rite Aide “party” to go to, I do the next best thing: I collect all of the decorative spider webbing from outside and spin it into a santa beard, turn the jack-o-lanterns into spiced pumpkin bread, and watch Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas. A musical, a scary movie, and an intimate and startling portrait of a true Christmas Freak all wrapped up in one, it’s the ultimate holiday primer, and is beloved by Halloween freaks and Pre-Pre Christmas freaks alike. Go watch it and release your inner Jack and make your own strange and troubling Christmas.

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