Monday, December 3, 2007

what would Jesus eat on his birthday? or, refined sugar makes the holiday bright

So the Christmas season is upon us again, and I find myself mystified by some of the great American holiday traditions. Why do we all seem to have this compulsive need to eat completely disgusting candy? Where exactly is it in the Gospel of Mark that there's some kind of discussion of candy at the birth of the Messiah? Maybe it came from the lesser-known adorants, maybe the shepherds, who wanted to bring a gift and could only find a half-eaten box of liquorice comfits coated in non-pareils way in the back of the pantry? Okay, maybe most Christmas candy isn't really all that disgusting (I direct you, tonstant weader, to Gravity's Rainbow and Pynchon's short little digression on the relative merits of English candies). But why this obsession with sweets at Christmastime? My grandmother used to set out large cut-glass dishes of stale candy for various gustatory and aesthetic assaults on the senses. At any rate, it's at this time of year that I suddenly am overwhelmed with the urge to eat hard candies of suspect provenance, well past its sell-by date.

I have been making gifts this year, since as usual I am completely broke. I didn't do as much pre-season shopping this year and am a bit panicky about what I'm going to give my husband. Anything I really want to give him is too expensive for us to really afford. This is kind of frustrating. I admire those women who can whip up sweaters and such in a trice -- I, however, need months at my disposal to make something as mundane as socks or a scarf. I do not know where people find the time. At any rate, I was watching some television yesterday and saw some of the ads...who are all these people purchasing cars as Christmas presents? Who is this wife who is stunned and surprised at receiving a Lexus? Didn't she have to co-sign the loan? Didn't she wonder why thirty thousand dollars disappeared out of the savings account? Are people this stupid? Or, no -- wait -- maybe people don't generally give each other luxury cars as Christmas gifts. Maybe people are pretty much pleased at getting the 8-dollar box of Russell Stover candy with the bow printed on the box.

I did spend the weekend wrapping most of my presents for this year, and making up some Christmas cards. Not that I do it in that made-for-television fantastickal way. I wrap everything in brown kraft paper and then make bows out of real ribbon (I always wanted Christmas presents with real fabric ribbon when I was a child -- so that's what I give now). I had my annual fight with the collapsible shirt-boxes that you can get at Kohl's and Dillards and such, which make intuitive sense until you try to assemble them. Anyway, now I have all these wrapped presents and a nagging sense that everyone's going to be disappointed in what they are getting this year. I try to remind myself that personally, I'm just happy to get a gift in the first place, so maybe it will all turn out okay.

Also, I made cookies. Chocolate-cherry-pecan oatmeal cookies, to be precise. They are startlingly enjoyable. I also hand-dipped some Oreos in that kind of dipping-chocolate. Those are pretty good too. I have not had time to make what is for me the uber-Christmas cookie -- Thumbelinas. Basically, these are butter with a little flour thrown in to make them hold together, a little sugar to make them sweet, rolled in pecans, then baked and globbed up with canned frosting. Trust me when I tell you not to eat more than 20 of these in a sitting. (They're deceptively seems like you could eat four dozen and not break a sweat...but believe me, you'll get sick after twenty.)

Finally, in other pre-Christmas news, I have not yet decided what to do about a tree. I love that winey-piney smell that a fresh-cut tree brings to a house, but it's such a complete hassle to get it and get it home that it seems almost silly to do it for no one but me and Kelly. I have a suspicion that the dogs will attempt to ingest the lower branches and at least one ornament each. Plus, they are tail-waggin' dogs, and this will invariably lead to an infestation of pine needles in odd places that I won't find until late February.

I don't know, I love this season and I love the traditions, but this year, it seems like everything's been so turned-upside-down financially and emotionally that maybe it would just be better to let it all go. Maybe we could spend one year just saying "you know what? You can have a day to think about the importance of religion, the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, peace on earth and goodwill toward men without having to go through all this rigmarole." As long as there's cookies, I am thinking that I will have done my part. I'll keep you posted on what we end up doing, which will be low-key in the extreme. Unless Oprah happens to be reading this; in which case, I have no real need for a new Pontiac or a refrigerator with a television stuck to its front...what I would really like is a fancy espresso machine to give to my husband, which I cannot afford, and the fact of which is bumming me out.
Creative Commons License
A Microscopic Cog in a Catastrophic Plan by Laura Lorson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at