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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

That winter holiday

Full disclosure: I LOVE CHRISTMAS. That is, I love the winter holiday season--I don't love the goddamn motherfucking assclownery that is the shit-for-brains "culture warriors" ruining things for everyone else.

But I don't want to talk about them. I want to talk about things I love about the month of December, because lo, they are legion.

1. Music: I really, really like Christmas carols, despite me not being even a little Christian anymore. I particularly like just simple instrumental versions of carols, particularly in public places while I am shopping. Much more calming and lovely than Jessica Simpson's Mariah Carey rip-off. Some of my favorites include: "Good King Wenceslas" (the loooooong version), "Far Far Away on Judea's Plain" (which I used to make my Young Women's girls sing when I was the Laurel class president, and no one ever knew the words except me), "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", "The Holly and the Ivy", "Corpus Christi Carol", and "O Holy Night". I love Loreena McKennitt's two holiday albums, To Drive the Cold Winter Away and A Midwinter Night's Dream and heartily recommend them.

2. Food: As we all know, I love to eat. I also like baking and cooking, so the winter season is a great time of year for me and peeps like me. My favorite cookies to bake in the winter time are fudgy bonbons (which are a chocolate dough wrapped around a kiss, then drizzled with glaze after baking) and pecan kisses (pecans dipped in meringue and baked). I also love making mulled cider and wine, and I have an awesomely easy and tasty recipe for fudge--basically, melt together baking chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, butter, and your flavor of choice--peppermint and orange essence are great, as is mixing in peanut butter chips or marshmallow fluff. Christmas with my mother's family at home is great because we normally do a "non-traditional" dinner; no goose, ham, or turkey. Last year we had a fab gumbo, and this year we will likely do some kind of fish. One of my aunts always hosts a dessert party at her house Christmas Eve...yeah, she's one of my favorite family members.

3. Traditions: tradition! Ok, Fiddler on the Roof digression over. My family doesn't really have too many traditions--my mom buys me and my sister a Hallmark collectible ornament each year and we generally try to watch A Christmas Story as many times as possible on Christmas Day. Personally I like to watch the gorgeous, emotionally crippling film The Snowman every year too. This year was really the first year that I got to decorate my apartment exactly how I wanted, and I was sort of surprised at how much I DID want to. I like greenery and lights for the winter season, and that's about it, so now we have some mistletoe in our kitchen doorway, a wreath and some small sprigs (fake pine, of course :/), and white bistro lights strung up over our sliding glass door. Our bedroom has a teeny tree decorated with my assortment of Hallmark ornaments, goddess figurines, and stars, and surrounded by gifts. And candles--candles everywhere. I love candles at most times, but especially during the winter holidays, so many of which revolve around light.

4. Gifts: I love, love holiday shopping. You may commence thinking I am a bizarro now, but it's one of my favorite things to do. I like finding gifts that my loved ones will enjoy and I think I'm pretty good at it. I love wrapping gifts, although I am TERRIBLE at it (back me up here, DR SHE BLOGGO). I love the look of a tree with many gifts under it, waiting to be given away and torn into and loved. I love getting things in the mail that are pretty and funny and functional, not just bills and spam. And yes, of course, I love opening my own gifts. Especially if they are books.

5. Learning: every year around this time I like to bust out my old favorite winter holiday books (Little House in the Big Woods, The Dark Is Rising, etc.) and read new items, online and in bound books, about this time of year. There really is an astounding number of winter festivals around the world. Personally, I don't celebrate a holiday around this time in a religious sense--mostly I use the season to celebrate my loves and friendships and all the good things Lady Fortune has bestowed on me. I do like some of the exterior decorations and symbolism found in winter traditional holidays, specifically Yule or Christmas trees, candles and other lights (which are found in a variety of traditions, from Christmas to Yule to Solstice to Diwali to Alban Arthan to St. Lucy's Day to Saturnalia and Sol Invictus celebrations), and the red/green/white color theme, the origin of which is attributed to many cultures and celebrations.

Do you enjoy this time of year? What do you love or not-love about it? Do you have any particular traditions or celebrations?

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