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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

The Christmas That Was Almost Ruined


We hosted Christmas Dinner this year, the first time we’ve REALLY hosted a holiday meal. We’ve participated in pot luck in the past (including one year I made a turkey and it was the best tasting turkey IN THE ENTIRE WORLD and I’d never made a turkey before), and one year we half-assed it to the point of not bothering to check to see how long a spiral sliced ham needed to cook and wound up pan frying slices of ham for everyone’s dinner.

This year we made lasagna, cauliflower gratin, mashed potatoes, peas, 2 kinds of rolls, and a spiral sliced ham (well, the ham only needed to be heated up; it was already cooked). All of this, except for the ham, was made from scratch.

There was also cheese and crackers, pumpkin-cranberry muffins, and 4 types of cookies, as well as sugared almonds and spiced mixed nuts. The muffins, cookies, and nuts were also made from scratch.

This was a lot of cooking. I have a 9 month old who needs to be within touching distance of me at all times. I did a lot of prep cooking while he napped or was in bed.


Nesko has never personally had to work to host a holiday meal. In the past, we either went to my parents’ or else his family hosted, which is to say that he sat around and drank and talked while Teh Wimmens busted their asses cleaning and cooking. Which meant that Nesko kept fluttering around the kitchen on Christmas early afternoon waving his hands and exclaiming that Christmas “was ruined.”

It was hilarious. And of course nothing was ruined.

The ham and lasagna went in then came out and were covered in foil to stay warm, and the cauliflower and potatoes went in. The peas were microwaved. The rolls were cooked the day before (but I should have heated them up in the oven but I was afraid they’d dry out or something).

Oh! There was also devilled eggs and fudge that didn’t set right (and I need to make a cake so I can melt that fudge down and turn it into frosting).

Next Christmas we are going to make appetizers, cookies, and pie. And if people want actual food we can have sandwiches or something. But people were very interested in the appetizers and were kind of full when the main meal came out. Sure, we could just skip appetizers, but they are MUCH easier to throw together than a meal is.

When we finally have a million billion dollars, we’re going to remodel our kitchen and put in two ovens to make life easier.

posted under baking, Christmas, cooking, home, life, midwest | Comments Off on The Christmas That Was Almost Ruined

Hey, Chicago People: Cookie Exchange?


Hey, Chicago People:
Is there any interest in meeting up in December to do a cookie exchange? I’ll host.
Let me know.

posted under Chicago, Christmas | Comments Off on Hey, Chicago People: Cookie Exchange?

White Christmas


I feel like I’m in a giant snow globe right now.

I’m on the couch looking out through our big bayed living room window at the trees outside covered thickly (frosted, even) with snow. It’s snowing right now, a little bit sideways, big fat flakes. It’s really, really pretty. And it’s just in time for Christmas.

Well, Christmas for Nesko, who is Eastern Orthodox and who celebrates Christmas on January 7th.

I can remember very few actual White Christmases. Usually it’d flurry around Thanksgiving, leave a dusting on the ground, melt, snow again, melt, maybe snow but not accumulate, a Brown Christmas would commence, and 5-10 days we’d get a big fat dollop of snow.

You know. Just in time for Serbian Christmas, as Nesko’s family calls it. The One True Christmas.

He and Gerry are headed out to play laser tag and arcade games. I’m staying at home in my pyjamas, working on polishing off the last of the cheap, non-fair-trade hot cocoa mix we have in the house and watching the snow fall. How are YOU spending the first day of the New Year?

…and then they pulled out all his teeth and laughed at him…


My parents didn’t allow their kids (us) to watch television from Thanksgiving Day until New Year’s Day, except for PBS, because that’s when the Christmas advertising really kicked into high gear. Of course, they foiled their plans by continuing to watch television themselves and being suckered into the BUY BUY BUY HAPPINESS CAN BE PURCHASED mentality. My mom actually managed to get me a Cabbage Patch Doll, despite the fact that I had no idea what it was and didn’t really want it because it was kind of goofy looking. Years later, when I was weeding out the accumulated detritus of childhood, she told me that I couldn’t get rid of the Cabbage Patch Doll because it was “really really hard to get one” and she “had to shove someone out of the way to grab it,” which means it was probably more like a punch or something and not a shove at all, and then she accused me of not appreciating what I had. There’s some very specific reasons I’m something of a packrat.

Anyway, since Christmas television was verboten in our house I grew up not watching most of the holiday programs that every other person in the entire world who isn’t Amish grew up loving. Sure, I had The Nutcracker Suite, and sure I had A Child’s Christmas In Wales, and sure I had a dad who cussed every time It’s A Wonderful Life came on, but I didn’t have Frosty The Snowman or Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer or… uh. I can’t remember any of the others. You probably know them. Nesko, on the other hand, did grow up with those shows, and they were part of what made Christmas for him. So just like the vast majority of the ornaments on our Christmas tree are mine, the vast majority of stuff we do around the house are my rituals also. The specific cookies I make for Christmas are the ones I’ve been making for as long as I can remember. I make hot cocoa the way I made it growing up. I play classical Christmas music instead of Burl Ives.

This year, Nesko decided that he really really missed the old claymation stuff. So we picked up a copy of Rudolph and we watched it together. He was kind of tense for the first part of it, like he was waiting for me to make mean comments. Which, you know, I am kind of an asshole. But I am not the kind of asshole to knowingly crap all over someone’s treasured childhood memories. Inadvertently crap all over them? Oh hell yes. Knowingly? No. Not unless I really didn’t like the person, and I like Nesko. A lot. He’s my favorite person ever.

So, yeah. It’s kind of a dumb movie, and it Very Definitely Has A Message About How It’s OK To Not Fit In that was so incredibly heavy handed I rolled my eyes some. But it also had an absolutely terrifying moment.

Towards the end, Rudolph’s mom, dad, and Designated Love Interest go looking for him and blunder into the Abominable Snowman’s Cave. He reacts by roaring around and yelling at them to get off his lawn. Rudolph, Hermie, and the addled prospector who keeps licking his axe (what the fuck, dude. seriously.) decide to rescue the Reindeer. Their cunning plan? Involves knocking the Snowman unconcious via massive head trauma, and then pulling out all his teeth. You know. So he can’t eat and will starve to death.  When he wakes, toothless and groggy and upset, they all laugh at him. I was appalled by this scene and kept saying “what the fuck, dude! What the fuck! Seriously! AUGH. what the HELL?” because really. Seriously. What the fuck, dude. That’s just nasty. In a fit of pique, the “Monster” drags Klondike Ike or whatever the hell his name off a cliff in some kind of grisly suicide pact. I can’t quite blame him. If some motherfuckers pulled out all MY teeth without benefit of anesthesia (and no, bashing my brains in with a rock doesn’t count), antibiotics, or gauze I’d be incredibly pissed off, too.

Anyway, apparently Stockholm Syndrome sets in because later on the so-called monster shows up with the REAL monster, only now he’s all tame and instead of attacking people and eating Santa (or gumming him real good) he puts a star on top of the Christmas tree. Because Santa can’t afford ladders or something. His workshop is seriously pre-OSHA.

It was just a really depressing movie. Man. Going from the top of the food chain to being a ladder monkey with NO TEETH, consigned to eat gruel for the rest of your days.

Later on we watched Alien Versus Predator and if you can overlook the racism (those silly brown people could never build something as complex as a pyramid! or religion! it must be interstellar travelers!)  it was… slightly better than Rudolph. Mostly because it had far less rogue dentistry.

Peace out, and apologies to everyone who reads me who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. It’s probably pretty annoying to read so much C-Mas stuff, huh? It’ll be over soon.

posted under Christmas, life, Nesko | Comments Off on …and then they pulled out all his teeth and laughed at him…