Christmas Freak

The merriest corner of the Internet

Justin Bieber’s Someday at Christmas

This is somewhat unfashionable to say, but Justin Bieber’s way-back-when cover of “Someday at Christmas” is truly wonderful. Watch it and become a belieber. (Sorry, I had to).


Heavy Paper Stock

and a snug envelope and a ballpoint pen ripe enough to turn punctuation into heartfelt blots and misspelled words into beautiful cursive. Put on a baggy sweater and write someone a note under the dim light of your desk lamp, then fall asleep dreaming of wintery nights in shades of brilliant white and ivory linen, pearl cotton and classic cream; a line of watermarks barely visible beneath the snow.



Nas Songs That Sound Like Christmas Music

Nas loves Christmas. I would bet anyone all of the chocolate in an advent calendar that he’s one trip to Rockefeller Center away from recording a Christmas album. (I’d call it St. Nas). Exhibit A: He already has an album called God’s Son, so obviously the general context has been on his mind since at least 2002. Exhibit B: His albums almost invariably feature at least one song produced with sleigh bells and/or tambourines, which is really more an effect than a cause of Exhibit C: His music is, at heart, interested in nostalgia, which gives each of his songs a magical little tingle and makes them sound like they were mulled with spices. If you want to start the Christmas season “early” (though personally, I consider any festivity past July 25 fair game) without anyone knowing, may I suggest:

Can’t Forget About You


A Queens Story

Not Going Back

Doo Rags

What Goes Around


I Can, which, though not seemingly Christmasy, samples Fur Elise, which is also featured on Vince Guaraldi’s Holiday Classic: Charlie Brown’s Christmas.


ios7 Ringtone Twinkle

Spring is the season of Discreet Christmas Music. I stumbled across this ringtone while changing the settings of my iphone, and was immediately transported to back to 1994, when I first saw the cover of Mariah’s Merry Christmas album and knew I had found my place in the world. Set this as your ringtone! It’s the perfect way to sample Christmas while still feigning interest in the ancillary seasons of spring and summer. No one will suspect.

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.

Not to be a grinch, but

February is the worst. If the month had a soundtrack, it would consist of nothing more than a series of long, slow moans. The only people who enjoy this time of year are those who have February birthdays, which is selfish. Why must you ruin our pity party with cheerful festivities celebrating the great miracle of life while everyone else is trudging through the slush muttering pejoratives at no one in particular because the weather conditions are too extreme to risk raising one’s head and being pummeled by sleet and rain?

In my opinion, the best way to get through this dark time is to embrace your inner Grinch. Ironically, the more I ponder him, the more he cheers me up. He’s so flexible! I love how he looks like a sly old grandma in his santa suit. And his little eggplant top shoulder shrug and peapod shoes! He does what he wants and doesn’t let anyone brighten his day until he’s ready. He knows that sometimes in order to feel better you first have to feel worse. Here are a few of my favorite Grinch-sults to supe up your February arsenal:

Your heart’s a dead tomato squashed with moldy purple spots!

Your heart is full of unwashed socks!

You have termites in your smile!

Your brain is full of spiders, you’ve got garlic in your soul!

You’re as charming as an eel!

You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!

Gingerbread House Biscotti

Ha! You thought today was just any old day but it’s not. Today is the day you should eat your gingerbread house. Here’s some math: assuming that you built and iced your GBH three to five days before Christmas, then left it uncovered on your dining room table to mature, your GBH has been air-drying in cozy radiator heat for approximately six weeks, which I’ve discovered, after many years of experimentation, is the exact amount of time it takes to render a few stale slabs of cookie into perfectly aged gingerbread biscotti, ready to be broken apart and dunked into an evening coffee. It is a true delicacy. Just make sure you chip off the gum drops first. I’m telling you from experience that those don’t get better with time.

Wait, what’s that? You threw yours out? Amateurs! That’s okay; this can be fixed. All you have to do is go to the grocery store, buy butter, flour, eggs, molasses, sugar, ginger, and cloves, and get to it. If you start tonight, your gingerbread house will reach its peak around mid-March, at which point you will be the envy of all your fellow Christmas Freaks, who will revel in the foresight and patience you had to make not one, but two (!) gingerbread houses, and stagger (!!) them so that you could enjoy the fruits of your labor all winter long.


Am I the only person left in the world who still likes airports? I find them festive regardless of the season, and no one can convince me otherwise. I like taking off my shoes before entering the x-ray machine because it gives me an excuse to show off my socks. I like duty-free shopping, and how at any moment I can pop in and buy a Toblerone the size of my arm, and if I start eating it a few hours later while waiting at my gate, no one will look at me askance because anything is fair game at the airport. I like wandering the terminals, searching for the cheapest bottle of water. It’s important to challenge one’s brain from time to time. I even like the food. In the airport, it’s less about quality and more about quantity–the best treat is the one that takes the longest to eat, thus keeping you occupied. I try to get as many small, individually wrapped items as possible, and eat them over an extended period of time, treating them like hors d’oeuvres. But most of all, I like seeing entire families forced to sit together for hours on end, their luggage piled around them like gifts, the floor scattered with chips and spent Cinnabon boxes. Togetherness in its most raw form. Isn’t that part of what the holidays are all about?


Puff Pastry

A culinary down comforter.

Christmas Tree Graveyards



Auld Lang Syne

Though traditionally played on New Years, I think of it an honorary Christmas song, and one of the few holiday tunes that doesn’t elicit groans when I play it this soon after December. I like how it’s both sentimental and optimistic, as if to say: Go forth into the dawn! Don’t look back! There’s a whole year of Christmas ahead of us! Here are my favorite versions, which I listen to as a playlist, Auld Lang Syne all day and night:

Andrew Bird. Auld Lang Syne sung on the front porch with a banjo and a fiddle.

Mariah Carey. Auld Lang Syne as the national anthem. Then breakdown! Auld Lang Syne in the club.

Sufjan Stevens. Auld Lang Syne sung by bonneted 19th C American settlers and a chorus of their rosy-cheeked children. You can almost hear them knitting a quilt in the background.

Jimi Hendrix. Nostalgic electric shredding.

Beach Boys. Auld Lang Syne harmonized around a bonfire, with a classic spoken interlude from Denny Wilson.

Vitamin String Quartet. A traditional instrumental version, best listened to at night, the lights low, the flatscreen playing a recording of a crackling fire.

Patti LaBelle. A quiet, doo-woppy Auld Lang Syne, sang as though it’s the last song of the night before closing.

Put on Darlene Love’s Winter Wonderland

and feel yourself being transported to the holiday tree-shopping montage in your own personal romantic comedy.

The Polar Express

was horrifying. Whoever decided that it was appropriate for a) Christmas and b) children must have been grinching hard, because this is the bleakest holiday film I’ve ever seen. The kind of Christmas movie Arthur Miller would have made if he’d been asked to adapt “Death of a Salesman” for children, starring uncanny valley robo-kids whose expressions are only slightly more bewildering than the knowledge that each character is actually Tom Hanks jumping around in a bulbed unitard.


Wrapping Paper Ball


The most versatile sport. Wrapping Paper basketball is a classic, an across-the-room giftbox as the hoop. Its close relation, Wrapping Paper dodgeball, uses the unconventional sofa cushion as a shield. A quick game of Wrapping Paper hacky sack can be played solo or with a group. Ditto for juggling. Though my personal favorite is Wrapping Paper kickball, which requires little to no coordination, and seems to go on for days after Christmas, the stray balls gathering dust beneath the radiator. There’s nothing more satisfying than sliding across the carpet in a pair of wool socks and kicking a knot of wrapping paper out of your way as you go about your business.

I’m not a sports person, but this time of year makes me wonder if I could be. I’m thinking Superbowls played with crumpled paper tied with twine, March Maddness hoops swapped with garbage bins and brown bags from Macy’s, Stanley Cup players padded with bubble wrap, their suits stuffed with packing peanuts, their visors made of that awful plastic packaging that encases electronics. Even trash is festive on Christmas.

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