"Ho ho ho," or "Bah, humbug"?

Loathe or love the holidays? Members of Salon's community, Table Talk, give their take on the December whirl.


Salon Staff
December 15, 2007 1:10AM (UTC)

Private Life

Bah Humbug! Hating the Holidays.

Simone -- 02:16 pm Pacific Time -- Dec 6, 2007 -- #1145 of 1161

So I order pretty much everything online for Christmas, because I HATE shopping even when the malls are NOT ultra-crowded and full of misanthropes shooting people, which just leaves me to deal with the joy that is all the new seasonal people hired by UPS just for this time of year. So far this week, we've had the guys who had to come to my house 3 times in 30 minutes because they hadn't grasped the elemental principle of grouping the packages together by addressee, and they kept finding stuff they should have delivered to me. Today, we had the guy who HURLED my (frozen solid) tropical flowers at my porch from the sidewalk so he could jump back in the still-moving truck being driven by a second guy. And a lot of the other packages show definite signs that they were not handled with the utmost of care. Sigh. It's so hard to get good help these days ...

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Philluck -- 11:00 am Pacific Time -- Dec 7, 2007 -- #1146 of 1161

First, I can freely admit that only drugs get me through the holidays. Yesterday, I met an older person who told me that although her family is Christian, they don't make a big deal out of Christmas. The family gets together in on Christmas Eve and celebrates with a birthday cake for Baby Jesus. They blow out the candles together, say an Our Father, sing a few carols and eat cake, ice cream and candy. Then they have family time the rest of the days off. This is what I call civilized celebrating! My family would stone me if I suggested something like this.

It is pretty much the regular high-pressure shopping for all of the 53 immediate family members, sending out hundreds of cards to people who you still barely know with those letters about your incredible kids' accomplishments (you know what I mean!) and preparing a meal that everyone is supposed to dress up for (on a day off, damn it!). We are all spread over the country, so there is the added desire that some of us travel at the WORST time of year. Of all the family obligations I have been able to wrap my mind around and force some positive thinking on myself, the Christmas season is just a huge roadblock for me. I am reduced to begging off from travel by claiming that I can't find a sitter for my dogs this year. OK, lame at best, but next year I will have to find another out. I love my family, but do not love forced celebrating of any kind. One of my sisters sent me this great package of napkins last year that had printed on it, "Home for the holidays, time to stock up on the Prozac." That sums it up pretty well!

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Loving the Holidays

Tricoteuse -- 10:56 am Pacific Time -- Dec 10, 2007 -- #363 of 378

I'm baking Christmas cookies for a work thing this week, so I spent last night going through the family cookbook to decide what to make. And I love the fact that just reading the recipes brings back lovely memories of past holidays. I don't even have to make the cookies to remember the good times that I've had baking with my mom, or the funny disasters from the year she forgot to put sugar in the sugar cookie dough, or the time I flipped an entire pan of turtle bars on the floor.

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The cookies themselves are good when I do make them, and I've had friends and co-workers tell me they love my cookies, but I always think that the memories connected to them make them taste just a little better.

Just Lee -- 09:05 pm Pacific Time -- Dec 11, 2007 -- #369 of 378

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I inherited my grandmother's annotated Fannie Farmer cookbook, inscribed to her as a gift in 1925. Every page with pictures has other recipes pasted over them and the additions are hand-written into the index. Unfortunately the real pancake recipe was all in her head because I tried the one in the book many times.

My mother spent the past summer adding recipes to her Mac. Then she printed them out, trimmed them and put them in a 4x6 photo album for her children and grandchildren. 175 recipes. Yay mom! I just wish she had given me a CD so I could reprint at will. I'm also thinking that some annotation would be good. I know in her usage that "XXX sugar" = "10X sugar" = confectioners sugar, but I'm not sure her grandchildren do. My grandfather's favorite, "Cheap Cake," a depression-era recipe with raisins, lard and cold coffee, is seasoned with "spices as desired." The next generation could use some guidance and a note that Crisco works in place of the lard. But oh, is it a tasty cake!

Blue Bunny -- 11:00 am Pacific Time -- Dec 13, 2007 -- #370 of 378

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From 2002 to 2005, Christmas fell during some painful times for me and my son. This year, he's living with me. It's been wonderful this time around. I am also now married to a wonderful guy, and he loves it that I like to decorate for Christmas.

I have a 2-1/2-foot snowman that my grandmother made for my first Christmas in 1963. The form is made of chicken wire, and she covered it with the old-school cotton wool batting people used back then. His facial features had fallen off from moves, storing, and time. It was badly in need of recovering, and over the years, I just didn't get around to doing it.

I made the effort this winter. I think partly because I am finally content and stable, and also because my son is around.

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It turned out to be a much bigger project than I anticipated. When I dismantled the snowman, I was really impressed that Grandma had put him together without gluing, or sewing any of the cotton wool to the form. Of course, cotton wool would be ideal, but it's difficult to find and expensive in that amount. I had to use a sheet, then wrap that in poly quilt batting, then wrap that in the "village snow" blankets that you find at Michaels. So many layers because the new poly isn't opaque, and the wire form showed through.

She formed his arms around old thin copper telephone wire, and when she wired them up to the form, tension held them in place so the batting stayed put. Snowman's hands were kiddie mittens. I had to replace them. I put on new teddy bear eyes and made facial features out of craft pom-poms and felt. I redid the hatband. He also has a new belt and scarf.

He looks adorable, and he brings back the few happy memories I do have from Christmas when I was little -- before Christmas turned into eight-hour holiday episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Best of Table Talk is an ongoing feature of Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week can be found in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up here.

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