Hey gang! We're about to close up shop for the rest of the year, in accordance with the "holidays" but also with the fact that there is a lot of MasterChef Junior to catch up on, but don't worry: we'll be posting entries from the Women of Our Year series, both old and new, throughout the break. (So, yes: you will have something to read when you inevitably lock yourself in the bathroom for ten minutes, just to get some goddamned peace and quiet, Mom, I just want to be able to POOP IN PEACE, we can talk about what's wrong with my hair later, during this [...]
The year that four of us were a family in the Nutcracker, night after night pretending to have Christmas on stage, we stopped putting the Christmas tree up. We rehearsed instead of decorating. Then my mom had my little brother and retired from the Nutcracker for a second time in her life. The Christmas tree went back up, but this time, its branches drooped with pink. We'd retired the normal Christmas ornaments and hung every last ornament that one of us had received as a Nutcracker gift. Ballerinas and pointe shoes and so many Nutcrackers and mice and soldiers and Claras: characters and shoes enough for fifteen productions danced [...]
Why did I start making yule logs? Because they are hilarious. (Bûche de Noëls, on the other hand, are beautiful, French, and fine and not hilarious at all.) The idea of taking this wonderfully airy, yellow sponge cake, a delicate whipped filling and a rich, decadent chocolate frosting, and turning it all into a cake make to look like a rotting log covered in fungus is simply one of the most marvelous holiday traditions of all time. If you aren’t dead on your feet yet (if so, sorry! Just skip ahead to the drink at the bottom of the page!), grab your friends, and log away.
NPR is streaming an "eclectic" Jingle Jams mix for the remainder of the holiday season, if you're looking for unexpected musical combinations (Ella Fitzgerald's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" followed The Barenaked Ladies' "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah," when I turned it on). And if you missed it, here's SNL's "Silent Night" on YouTube. NPR is also hosting a new Dido song, featuring Kendrick Lamar: "Let Us Move On." (She's releasing a new album in March.) And I'm still partial to the World's Most Perfect Christmas Playlist, but that is a self-serving link.
I originally wrote this for a holiday-themed reading at some fancy New York "performance space" and then forgot all about it, but then Rookie tweeted that today was Festivus and brought all the memories right back, so I am posting it online for the first time. To get the full effect, imagine me, wine drunk, reading this aloud.
This is a story about how it took me 20-odd years to learn the true meaning of a certain December holiday.
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! FESTIVUS IS JUST SOMETHING FROM SEINFELD?!!!!!” I asked my friends, agog. They told me yes, and that, as someone who celebrated the holiday for [...]
Dear Santa, Do you have any beard-care tips? Hector F., Lewiston, ME
This year my beard is entirely ornamental. I'm not the first woman to serve in the role of Santa Claus, but it is my first time. And I'm very excited. Santa's beard does serve some very practical purposes. Traveling 500 miles an hour, it helps keep the wind and the snow off the lips. Other women and some beardless men have served as Santa over the years. And so we've created some special ways to treat disembodied beards. My favorite is soaking it in egg nog, to give it a kind of vanilla smell from the inside. Orange [...]
The old nativity scene we put up on the church lawn was made of white plastic that lit up at night, bright slashes of paint for beards and eyes and hair. The figures — one Mary, one Joseph, one Jesus, two shepherds, one angel, three wise Men, and a camel — had always glowed cheap and cheerful under their straw hutch. And they were light enough that it only took a couple volunteers from the youth group to set them up (and untangle their wires, and enjoy the scene with hot apple cider in little styrofoam cups).
This year, though, the plastic figurines had flickered and then gone dark [...]
Santa, why do you sometimes use the same wrapping paper as my mom? –Erin G., Jerusalem, PA
Christmas is an exciting day for everybody. Kids, North Pole Staff, and even parents. And we can hardly blame anybody if they come down and see all the presents we've left under the tree. And if they maybe want to take a little peek. I don't want to point any fingers. But the Spirit of the Holiday sometimes gets the best of us all. And having to re-wrap presents is something Moms and Dads sometimes have to do. Say hello to your brother Jason for me. He almost catches me every year. Almost![...]
I know. It's obvious. But it's holiday time, and I wanted to decorate some cookies. And I have to say, if you decide to get one egregiously holiday-themed product this year, this is not a bad one to choose (especially compared to Pringles Peppermint or whatever). Straight, it tastes a bit like sweet coffee made with ashes, but mix in some hot milk and by golly you got a nog goin'!
Plus, of all the ridiculous liquors I've gotten, this one seems to make the most sense, baking-wise. Why bother with nutmeg and cinnamon and actual ginger when you can just use a dollop of Kahlúa Gingerbread? Cut your prep [...]