Christmas Freak

The merriest corner of the Internet

Category: Serious Issues

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.


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.


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.

Twisted Pajama Bottoms

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

The Back of the Tree


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.

Inconspicuous Tree Disposal

The trick to taking down your Christmas tree without leaving a trail of needles down the hallway of your apartment building and thus drawing attention to your Christmas Freak status is to keep it for so long that by March 1, you’ve vacuumed it all up.

Four Haikus that Settle the Great Marshmallow Debate



Big marshmallows are

so overrated. They are

only good for s’mores.


How many beats does

“s’mores” have? One? But what about

the apostrophe?


Half a bag of small

marshmallows can fit in one

hot chocolate. True!


Plus they’re best for s’mores;

they melt faster and coat the

graham evenly.

Plaid Anxiety

Too wide and it resembles pajamas. Too checkered and it resembles a tablecloth. Too much white and it looks executive. Too much black and it looks lumberjack. Too red and green and it looks like a kilt. I like those shiny plaid party dresses, but worry that they will make me look like a child. Ditto for prep school skirts. I want a plaid shirt but don’t own an iron, which renders any collar unwearable after the first wash. Plaid scarves are a must, but don’t pack enough punch. Plaid lining makes even the ugliest of coats desirable, thus making it sartorially dangerous. How to get that wrapped-up in ribbon and twine look while still appearing like a serious, normal adult?

Sexy Santas

Last December, I was walking up Broadway, humming a Carpenter’s tune and feeling generally wholesome when two sexy Santas stumbled out of a bar, puked on the curb, then asked me if I had a cigarette. Nay! I wanted to say. And by the way, who’s the one claiming to be Santa here? Fix your buttons! Get in character! Instead I shook my head and smiled. A good dose of Christmas cheer never hurt anyone.

I know I should be wary of sexy Santas, but in truth, I find them endearing, and a testament to the strength of the Christmas spirit. What other holiday inspires people to put on an old man’s outfit, snip the hems to a rated-R length, and romp around the city in a Suessian hat and a pair of buckled boots? So all you modest ChristmasFreaks, I give you my blessing. Unshackle yourselves! Don your suspenders and your Santa short shorts! Unclasp the buttons from their holes! Unclasp the buckles from their belts! Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! In two days it’ll be Christmas. Go nuts!

Nativity Scene Storage

photo 2-3

(not enough nativity)

When it comes to nativity scenes, the more life-sized and three-dimensional the better. I want lit-up figurines and burlap robes and hay, lots of hay. I’m looking for an immersive experience. In my ideal world, they would be kept up year round, which is why I’ve never given much thought to nativity scene disassembly. It seems an assumed fact that nativity scenes just vanish after December 25th, the golden light around them fading into the snowy sky like a distant, benevolent star.

photo 1-3

(not enough hay)

But the other day while I was driving back from the grocery store, an awful image flashed through my mind: a middle-aged man jamming a life-sized Joseph figurine into a shed packed with crap. That got me picturing storage lockers crammed with off-season mangers, tool closets wedged with a macabre mix of shepherds and hedge clippers and snowblowers, Mary’s unblinking eyes staring vacantly at the drafty cobwebs lining the roof. Jeez. Can all you Bethlehem landlords please just go buy a separate manger shed? And promise me that all the figures will be standing upright. Perhaps you can even position them dramatically. Maybe shine a light up at them for some ambiance, open the door to give them some air, then scoot the shed closer to the front lawn until it’s visible from the street. Just throwing ideas out there.

The Perplexing Interior Climate of Slippers

Feet remain cold for the longest time. Then they perspire. Then they become unbearably hot. Then they feel damp. Then they are cold again. I can’t be the only one who has this problem.

Heavy Ornaments


(dramatic rendering)

Why do they exist? The above ornament weighs more than my cat. The only branch that can sustain its weight is a stubby one deep in the middle, so densely covered in pine that I can only see the ornament when I bend down to water the tree. So unfestive! Also, I really think its weight has set my tree slightly askew (though I suppose that could also be the product of an uncalibrated tree holder). The paranoid part of me wonders if this is a scheme devised by ornament fabricators to trick us into buying a second heavy ornament to balance the tree on the other side. A Christmas Conspiracy! One so insidious, so pervasive that it can be traced up to the executive branch of the government! One so terrible that once it’s revealed we’ll have to hold a second, even better Christmas to make up for the first. Lightweight ornaments for all, pine needles scattered across the streets like confetti, 2.5 Christmas trees for every household . . . ! End fantasy.

Ersatz Nog


The problem with egg nog is that I want to drink it all time. I tried to do this a few years ago when I realized, to my dismay, that grocery stores only carry it in December (the audacity!). So on a dark day in February I decided to make my own. Big mistake. Did you know that egg nog primarily consists of–well, I won’t tell you. You don’t want to know how the sausage gets made. Then you’ll end up at the grocery store at seven in the morning on a Saturday in December, staring wistfully at the shelves of thick, hearty, sunshine-in-a-carton Egg Nog, before bending down and comparing the gellan and locust bean gums in Almond Milk Nog to the carrageenan and caramel coloring in Soy Nog, and wondering which is “healthier.”

The soy nog has this chemical nutmeg twinge that tastes like Christmas in a uniquely American way, sort of like how cheese dogs taste like Independence, and waxy candy corn tastes like Halloween. The almond nog is a little better. It actually has brown specks in it, which I’m assuming are bits of nutmeg, though it has this tongue-coating effect that I find distressing. Verdict: soy milk and almond milk to do not taste like egg yolks mixed with heavy cream. The search continues.

The Crappy Part of the Nutcracker


Blasphemy! I know, I know. I adore the Nutcracker so much that I always forget how much of a snoozer most of the first act is. Let’s pause for a moment, clear the marzipan from our heads, and think back to that nice nap we took during scenes one through six, you know–the scenes with all the lovely orchestra music playing in the background?

Somewhere in between the trumpet and the horn, I vaguely remember a long, uneventful Christmas party: 20 minutes of adults greeting each other and passing around hors d’oeuvres. I’m pretty sure one of the scenes is called “Dance of the Parents,” and another “Departure of the Guests,” two of the least exciting things to happen dramatically ever, and during which time most of the dancing consists of adults shaking hands and bowing to each other. Which, I’ll give them credit, is exactly how I imagine parents dancing. I know, they have to introduce the magical toymaker who gives Clara the nutcracker, etc, etc, but really–and maybe this is the New Yorker in me speaking–I would have been just as pleased to have rushed through that bit, and filled the following five scenes with the dancing rats. Who doesn’t like festive rodents?

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