Christmas, The Downside

I’ve been staying home and writing, but today I had to hit the grocery and the pharmacy and the craft store (skull button) and I was brought up once again by the true horror of the season: Christmas music.  The stuff is insidious; I found myself singing along to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”  I probably looked like one of those animatronic elves, nodding my head mechanically as I searched for a good skull for my Day of the Dead project.   Thank god, it wasn’t “Santa Baby.”  I listened to four different versions of that sucker while writing “Hot Toy.” Never again.  Okay, I’ll listen to the Etta James version because she can do no wrong, but that’s it.

I also looked at Christmas wrapping, most of which was fine, but there were a lot of those floridly colored retro Santa Clauses that looked like they’d had way too much egg nog and were harassing the elves.  At this point, I don’t trust any guy in position of power, but those faux vintage Santas are especially skeevy, like Steve Bannon, only not that bad.

Then I came home and found an e-mail from an amigurumi site with these:

I can just hear them chanting “For the Greater Good.”  (And now I want to do them in black with gray beards and ghostly pale faces).  Maybe circle them around a table. Put glasses on one of them.  Watch Hot Fuzz again.

Even the cooking is getting to me.  I got home and realized I hadn’t gotten refrigerator pie crust dough and thought, Crap, now I have to go back.  Then I remembered that I know how to make pie crust dough.  I blame the Christmas music for making me stupid early, since I’m still on Thanksgiving/pumpkin pie time.  I don’t haul out the holly until the day AFTER Thanksgiving, thank you.  The turkey isn’t even dead yet, people.  Get a grip.

I know I’ll feel better once the leftover turkey is gone and I have my Christmas trees (yes, plural) up.  I may even break down and make those damn elves just because there are so many things I could do with them.  The three creepy wise guys, one with a skull in his hands, one with a raven on his shoulder, and one with . . . 

Hmmm.  Must think about this while I make pie crusts from scratch while humming “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while weeping helplessly.  

Or maybe I’ll just go back to writing a book.   Christmas: Not My Thing.

EDITED TO ADD LOCK SCREEN FOR THE IPAD:

  1. Double tap the Home Button (that’s the circle at the bottom of the frame that you push to leave an app).

2. You will get this screen.  Find the lock rotation button on the lower right:

3. Hit that button.

 

 

 

 

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94 thoughts on “Christmas, The Downside

  1. Sympathies! And best of luck with rolling out the pie crust — that’s where I always make a mess (even though it’s tasty).

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    1. Roll it out between two sheets of wax paper. Then you don’t need to sprinkle it with flour either and it doesn’t get too tough.

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        1. The only problem is that you can’t do pies larger than about 10 inches because of the size the wax paper sheets. Now if I had oversized wax paper that would be different.

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          1. Parchment paper sold at restaurant supply stores comes in sheets sized for pans roughly 4 times the size of a 9×13 baking pan. Then you can cut it to any size you want. The place where I used to buy it sold it in rolls of 50 sheets so that you didn’t have to buy a whole case (1000 sheets). It will spoil you for waxed paper forever.

            When we couldn’t find a place to buy smaller amounts, my sister and I split a case. We were both happy for a long time.

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      1. Speaking about wax paper am I the only one who doesn’t know that there are perforated sides on the boxes of wax paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap etc that you push in and the tabs hold the role in place so that it doesn’t pop out of the box? And I’m in my 70’s. I was cruising the net when I came upon that gem.

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        1. Heck, Mary. I just discovered that there is an up side and a down side on wax paper. Which is why sometimes my meringues come free and sometimes they stick.

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  2. Do not make those elves/dwarves. Whatever. Those things.

    Those things scream -Make me so I can be possessed by an ancient evil and chase you around the house with long knives.

    Or torn apart by good dogs. ; )

    But the risk is great.

    6+

        1. Too small. It’s about an inch.
          I could do one of those elves as a Christmas tree topper . . . no, no, I couldn’t.

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          1. You totally could 😀 I am eyeing them now. Am in a weird amigurumi mode at the moment. Just finished a baby Groot, a monster, a T-Rex and a Totoro sidekick 😀

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          2. Do them in black and makes the hoods deeper and you’ve got the Auditors from assorted Terry Pratchett works…

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  3. I had to deal with the grocery store today. After the madhouse inside, I was stressed out enough to ponder skipping cooking Thanksgiving dinner next year (did you know McDonald’s is open on Thanksgiving? something to think about). Then I pulled out of my parking space and someone hit me. Minor damage to my car, none to hers, but still. Thanksgiving: Not My Thing.

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    1. Oh, so sorry. But yes, that’s definitely the universe’s way of telling you to go to McD’s for Thanksgiving.

      I really wonder why McD doesn’t do a traditional meal that week. They’d make a FORTUNE.

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    2. That’s awful. No one should have to deal with Thanksgiving, Christmas and car insurance companies at the same time.

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  4. They are Gandolf the grey, Gandolf the white and Radagas the brown! My spelling is probably not correct. As lover of all things LOTR, I approve. Put one in front of the cookie jar…You shall not pass!!!

    As for Christmas, I once drove a florist’s delivery truck that had no CD player. Only the radio. And the radio plays nothing but horrible Christmas music from the day after Halloween until December 26. I was a grinch that year.

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    1. I’d go for silence. There’s only so many times you can here “Rumpa pa pum” before you have to kill somebody.

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      1. I once worked in a large, enclosed shopping mall over Christmas. As well as the music piped in the common spaces, each store had their own, different music that would leak out the open doorways. Since I am Jewish, I don’t have any holiday nostalgia to offset the cacophony. The only good time was the hour and a half between when my shift started and opening time.

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    2. I wouldn’t have a problem with the Christmas music… If they did not play the same 10-15 songs over and over.

      *I* have a bigger variety of Christmas music than any radio station I’ve ever heard.

      And then they stop playing it at noon on Christmas day! NOON.

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      1. I never ever ever want to hear Johny Mathis sing again. At this point, I’m almost over Bing and Frank, too.

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        1. There’s a Christmas song coming up tomorrow, but it’s an Argh tradtion and it only plays once.
          The other one I listen to every year is Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” And then I weep.
          I may have a problem with holidays.

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          1. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is the one that makes me cry. All those war time babies (I’m almost 50 now, so the 18-21 crowd just looks like little lambs), hoping with all their hearts that they can actually be home for Christmas instead of dead on a field somewhere.

            Um. Merry Christmas! May your days be merry and bright (particularly compared to the darkness around us . . . damn, I did it again).

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      2. You and me both. I’d rather they not play it at all until after December 20th and then at least play if through New Year’s Eve.

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  5. Usually I love Thanksgiving but this year I’ve been sick and I’ve been lying around prone for three and a half days, which would’ve been much more relaxing without the toddler around (ah well). But now I’m lying around getting stressed about about gifts and shopping and cooking and…

    …maybe I should just take julianna’s advice and grab everybody a happy meal?

    Well, luckily, I married well and he’ll be doing most of the cooking for Thursday, but I’ve got to clean up. Today I’m binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and trying to remove the top layer of detritus from the area (toys, books, broken crayons, etc etc) so that when my headache goes away (hopefully soon?) I can vacuum up the lower layer of detritus.

    Or I could just sit here on the couch and be impressed by drag queen contouring…

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  6. I just made a deal with a friend that we are NOT doing Christmas this year (as in, we’re not sending each other gifts as we usually do, but we can share happiness), and that’s our gift to each other. I enjoy her gifts (and she enjoys mine), but this year just thinking about it was making me hyperventilate. Now I need to get the rest of the folks on my list to agree to just skip Christmas (the gifts anyway) this year, and I’ll try to be back in the mood for 2018. Maybe we can make it an every-other-year holiday. Although, in my heart of hearts, I’d be happy to skip the gifts for the rest of my life, and just stick to the non-material stuff.

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    1. Gin, I made an announcement, not a deal, in my fifties, that I was through doing presents–holidays or birthdays–and that my friends need not give me presents. All my life I enjoyed shopping for presents, and making some (I was that annoying person who has all the Christmas shopping done by October) and then over the course of two or three years it just got boring. I had no present-expecting children in my life at that point.

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  7. It sounds terrible, having to basically do Christmas twice, instead of saving turkey/feasting for 25 December. It’s against my principles to start Christmas shopping before December, although this year for some reason I keep feeling I’m late starting.

    My sympathy to you all.

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    1. It really becomes the Nightmare Between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And it’s not like we’re a religious nation. (Hence, Madonna lisping, “Santa Baby” which is pretty much sexually harassing a children’s icon and saint-in-disguise.)

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    2. Not if you like turkey as much as I do. I have turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas and many other times around the year. (I keep little packets of chopped celery in the freezer so I don’t have to buy a head of celery for one or two stalks every time I want to make dressing.)

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    3. Christmas – although secularized – is still a religious holiday.

      Thanksgiving is for everyone.

      If I had my druthers, I’d let Christmas go back to being a religious holiday instead of the highpoint of retail and keep Thanksgiving.

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      1. Bridget, I totally agree! I was saddened by the immediate switch from Halloween to Christmas decorations this year. Thanksgiving carries far fewer anxieties for me than Christmas: no presents, lower expectations, and far less planning.

        Personally, I wish Christmas wasn’t a politicized quasi-religious, quasi-secular event.

        Thank you, Jenny, for a two-post day! These arghs and a message from a long time friend have already made my Thanksgiving great.

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      2. For me, Christmas is a religious holiday. It is the celebration of Christ’s birth.

        Xmas is the secular, marketing holiday that happens from Halloween to Christmas where it is all about getting X mas (which means more in Spanish) stuff. The stuff has completely replaced Christ in the holiday.

        1+

  8. Jenny, you are obviously Superwoman. I intended to figure out how to lock the iPad screen but kept putting it off. And viola’, Jenny to the rescue. Thank you. I particularly appreciated how you put written instructions for the word fixated, and visual instructions for those of us who have to be shown.

    Not to disagree with everyone, but those are not elves. Those are Pratchett’s auditors. Shouldn’t they be in grey?

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      1. Great minds think alike.

        Well, probably not. Maybe, great minds see the same congruences.

        That’s never going to become the latest hot phrase is it?

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  9. Satellite radio does everyone the enormous favor of leaving the Christmas music on specific stations, so those of us who don’t want to be bombarded with it can find sanctuary. FM is unbearable from mid-November to New Year’s. It’s reached the point where I do most of the Christmas shopping on Amazon with the odd trip to Barnes and Noble. It’s not just the prices, it’s that the thought of going to a mall in December is enough to give me an anxiety attack. And everyone decorates waaay too early now. Christmas decorations should not visible until after Thanksgiving.

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      1. I used to. I can’t now. For a little while but too much talk of 45 and….it’s off. Podcasts, I set up my phone before a drive.

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  10. For Christmas/Winter season music I highly recommend Loreena McKennitt’s A Midwinter’s Night Dream. I love her Good King Wenceslas and Seeds of Love is beautiful.

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  11. I saw a Calvin and Hobbes terrarium online the other day. Now I think I need to make Christmas ornaments with Calvin and his snowmen in them.

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  12. Back to the grocery shopping just before Thanksgiving thing…. What I always find and deplore is the grocery store aisles blocked by the shopping carts of people who only shop on that one week per year (or only shop in their relative’s grocery store that week — I should be fair about that) so they have no notion of how many people’s progress they are impeding while they park their cart diagonally, then stand beside it studying the ingredients on some box of food for minutes at a time.

    Every once in a while I come across someone like that at times other than Thanksgiving, but during that week prior, there seems to be a galactic law that there should be one in every other aisle throughout the whole damn store. If I forget to get something on my last pre-Thanksgiving grocery run, I DO WITHOUT.

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    1. My pet peeve is the person who parks their cart on one side of the aisle and goes to the opposite side to browse.

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  13. Asleep at the Wheel, which is a Texas swing band has a great Xmas album. Highly recommend it and I don’t like country music.

    3+

  14. I used to complain about Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving. Then I was in choirs that had to rehearse their Christmas repertoire before Thanksgiving. Now I have to start selling Nutcracker tickets starting in July, so I’ve gotten off my high horse. Although I will say listening to Nutcracker rehearsal music going on behind you starting in October really messes with your internal holiday season calculator.

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  15. My religion is avoiding Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. Then all bets are off. I heartily recommend An Ivy League Christmas, which is all these great college singing clubs doing various songs. The Princeton Nassoons’ Twelve Days of Christmas mash-up is not to be missed.

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  16. I put a post up on FB asking people to comment with when and in which store they first hear Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas.

    Still waiting. South Africa is good. and it’s Spring. Weird windy, rainy boiling hot, chilly weather right now. Christmas will be full sub-tropical summer.

    1+

  17. I went to THREE seperate stores yesterday looking for evaporated milk for the pumpkin pie. At this point, spending an hour over the stove watching YouTube while two quarts of milk become a little less than one sounds like it’ll be a much more pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I don’t need the pies until Saturday, anyway. That’s when we’ll do the big ex-pat party.

    Here in Japan, a traditional Christmas dinner is Kentucky Fried Chicken. I’m serious. You have to reserve it in advance; good luck dropping by a KFC looking for a little chicken after work on Dec. 25th. There might be a lone Twister sitting under the heat lamp, if you are very fortunate.

    I’m kind of looking forward to pulling out my Christmas music for Friday. I like the Bare Naked for the Holidays album, but I think my favorite is Dr. Demento’s Christmas. Art Decade from the Low album also has staid and steady sleigh bells.

    October and December really are my favorite times to tell a story! It’s a pity December is so terribly busy.

    Which reminds me; must buy reading glasses so I can start reading Hogfather.

    4+

    1. Christmas music at home on Friday is a different matter completely. You get to choose what songs and you can turn it off.

      4+

      1. Thursday was a not-major holiday, so after helping out with the neighborhood recyling, I treated myself to some Dick Van Dyke Show — and by lucky accident, it was the Christmas Show for season 3. (-: The weather was grey and gloomy, just like my black-and-white TV, and it was a very nice break! DVDS is on this funny cutting edge between our feminist society and whatever came before. Sally Rogers was singing a song about how she wanted Santa to bring her a man for Christmas, but I think it’s quite clear from other episodes that Sally is just toying with cultural expectations. She won’t go for just any old man dumped down her chimney; her actions say that while she wants a man, she is also fine by herself.

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    2. I was so excited to discover that some brilliant company has started making coconut evaporated milk and coconut condensed milk. Or my grocery store has finally started carrying it. Could go either way…

      My husband is gluten and dairy free and my pumpkin pies have just been off since we’ve been accommodating him. This year with sweetened evaporated milk, they were great. Although my 9 year old daughter asks that we skip the crust next time we do this. She may have a point as it’s a gluten free, vegan, etc. frozen pie crust.

      1+

  18. Crap. This is all motivating me to get to the store NOW so maybe it’s easily enough to not deal with too much? I hope.

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  19. I made a marbled pumpkin cheesecake with a crushed ginger cookie crust yesterday, probably 12,000 calories a slice. We’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show and I so want to create what they do and then I come to my senses, although there was this yummy cookie sandwich recipe with buttercream frosting and jam between the cookies. My husband will do the cooking for Thanksgiving while I do the hard part, the clean up. Christmas thoughts are creeping in my brain but so far I have been able to toss them back out. No panic yet. I picked up the Hogfather dvd yesterday at the library in preparation of the discussion coming up soon. I hope there won’t be a quiz, never did good on those. Happy Thanksgiving

    2+

  20. Here’s a pie crust tip for those of us without the magic touch. Substitute up to half the cold water with cold vodka in your recipe. Gluten doesn’t form in alcohol and it cooks out in the baking, you can use any kind of spirits but vodka leaves no taste. You an make the pie crust wetenough to handle easily but won’t turn tough.

    Also, too, you can make yourself a mimosa while you cook…makes the whole thing easier.

    4+

    1. If I made a mimosa while I cooked, I’d end up face down in the pie crust. Nora said I was the only person she’d ever seen actually slide down a wall, and that was after two drinks. Cannot hold my liquor.
      Do not mix baking and booze. It will lead to tears. Pie is serious business.

      4+

        1. But you do many other things well.
          Also, get refrigerator pie dough (already rolled out for you), plain pumpkin, evaporated milk, and eggs. Pumpkin pie is easy. Use the recipe on the Libby can. Everybody else in America does, why mess with perfection?

          5+

          1. We use acorn squash, hubbard squash, which technically pumpkin is a squash too. I grew up calling it pumpkin squash. You do understand the stuff in a can – you’re right, don’t get the pre-sweetened and spiced version – is squash not pumpkin. Pumpkin plain doesn’t taste good, and the canners know that.
            Being from NJ now, you can probably school me on cranberries, which we do from fresh too. Got a zillion recipes, all great.

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          2. Another vote for the Libby’s Recipe! I can’t get canned pumpkin, but half a kabocha is about 2 cups (ie: the right amount) of pumpkin, so all I do is bake it at 200C/400F for 30 minutes, and follow the rest of the instructions on the label, label, label.

            1+

    2. I have always wanted to try that but I look up a recipe and it uses a different fat to flour ratio then mine and so I forget about it. Your way is easier.

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    3. Wait. Are you saying I can use my favorite pie crust recipe from my pre-gluten-intolerance days and actually have pie crust instead of just eating the filling?

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      1. The gluten is in the flour. It will still be there. The gluten doesn’t bond with the water to make the crust less flakey.

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  21. A few years back I had an attack of “I’d rather bake the pie myself than go to the grocery store“ madness, and the results were not pretty. The pies turned out OK, but every utensil I own wound up in the sink, and there was flour scattered from one into the kitchen to the other—stark reminder of why I gave up baking decades ago. Fortunately I have a daughter-in-law who loves to entertain, so now I just hand over cash to help with the cost of the expenses.

    That said, for a few hours now I have been in experiencing panic, thinking I was going to have to venture forth to the store today after all, because last night I discovered that the spare bottle of ibuprofen that I thought I had in my bathroom did not exist, apparently, and my arthritis only lets me go so long without it . This morning, praise God, I found a baggie containing a handful of tablets in the bottom of my purse, enough to get me through until Friday. Much praise and thanksgiving ensued.

    May everybody have a wonderful Thanksgiving, however you celebrate or don’t. Despite all my griping, I have been greatly blessed. I hope you are the same.

    4+

  22. I looked at those wee guys and imagined them chanting ‘dragon, dragon’. Which made me think of somehow changing them to candle holders, so they looked, you know, alight….

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