Metatalktail Hour: Pre-Holiday Chatter November 11, 2017 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! Now that Halloween is over, I am ready to GET HYPE for the winter holidays, and with the SUPER-INTENSE SNOWSTORM we had on Friday that made it impossible to drive, but only for an hour, I think the universe is telling me it's time to talk turkey. (And trees and menorahs and festivus poles and kinaras and champagne and red envelopes and logs and orbital mechanics and any other holiday accoutrements that may be common to your culture, family, or religion!) So what is up for the next couple months, what are you looking forward to, what are you making cunning plans to avoid, tell us everything holiday.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:05 PM (121 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I'm leading my workplace's holiday lighting display again this year. This is the third year we've lit up the gardens and I'm feeling much more relaxed about it especially in comparison to my stress levels concerning hosting my family for thanksgiving.

Question that's been on my mind: what single item would you miss terribly if it weren't on the Thanksgiving table?
(Spoiler: I'm planning on roasting chickens and giving the turkey a miss and no one has objected)
posted by sciencegeek at 5:20 PM on November 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Completed my Christmas shopping. Holding off on writing and stamping cards for a few more weeks as I did it too early in 2010, there was a very bad flu epidemic here in November and December, and... yeah.

I'm looking forward to whatever is the BBC Slow TV programme for this Christmas, and hoping they repeat the lapland sleigh ride from the last few years. Two hours of quiet magic. But, with just twenty weeks to Easter weekend - easy to remember in 2018 as Easter Sunday falls on April the First - my attention is wandering towards that somewhat. The first chocolate eggs will be in the shops in less than eight weeks...
posted by Wordshore at 5:28 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

This will be the first holiday season without my mom. We are headed to my twin sibling's home for Thanksgiving. I plan on bringing cured meats and yummy cheeses for noshing before we have turkey. My sibling and spouse are hosting his wife's family as well. I've met them all and they are super kind, so I'm glad that I will not have to fake cheerfulness if I end up feeling morose.

This Christmas is our tri-annual rotation at the in-laws very large, very long, very loud Wigilia. I'm dreading it more than usual, even though my spouse rightfully pointed out that there are new babies this year, so no one is going to be focusing on me. I'm still trying to come up with some strategies for managing potential feelings and interactions.

I'm looking for wreath and garland for the outside of the house and already started shopping for gifts, including several happy hours searching for the perfect Quonsmas gift.

I would terribly miss mashed potatoes FTR. The only time I eat them is at Thanksgiving. A close runner-up is the crispy skin of the bird.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:31 PM on November 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

Having a Christmas tree in my place is the one thing I like about the holiday anymore, and I haven't been able to do so for years because I've had to visit my father on the other side of the country and I didn't want to leave a potential fire- and cat-hazard alone. One year I bought a potted rosemary topiary in the shape of a little tree but it wasn't the same, and the poor thing has been in the process of dying ever since I planted it out front a couple years ago. But! My father's unexpectedly decided he's going to come here for Christmas, so I can get a tree! And my brother and his girlfriend just moved to this coast, so they're coming too! I like my father but he tends to be stress-inducing, but my brother and his girlfriend are awesome, so brother + brother's girlfriend + CHRISTMAS TREE! is making me happy. The thought of listening to Ella Fitzgerald Christmas carols while drinking red wine and watching the lights on my Christmas tree makes me feel all cozy and happy. I'm sure I will have later updates about the cats having climbed the tree, or knocked over the tree, or eaten the tree, but for now my hypothetical tree is making me happy.

Thanksgiving has whittled down to one friend and she is the right friend and that makes me happy, too. I am thankful both that I get to spend time with her and that I no longer have to deal with either of our ex-partners on the holiday. Or at all. (Gratitude is gratitude! It still counts!)

I tend to make myself a fancy dinner involving seafood (preferably Dungeness crab) for New Year's Eve, and toast the East Coast new year so that I can go to bed around 9pm Pacific, and that's still my plan for this year. I've been trying to hike on New Year's Day but apparently that's a thing? The trails are always really crowded. So I may find a different start-the-year activity this year.
posted by lazuli at 5:38 PM on November 11, 2017 [8 favorites]

As a segue from the lights: I am gearing up to host a holiday gathering, in what is becoming a tradition. It'll be eariy in December; I try to round up people for an expedition to the Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn to see the insane Christmas displays people put out.

That link goes to a proper tour, but I really just DIY it - have a bit of an open house at my place for a few hours before, so people can nosh and chat, and also to give people who want to hang out but don't want to go outside or see the lights a chance to still hang out. Then at about dusk, those of us going to see the lights suit up, load up thermoses with hot beverages, and head out to the subway to travel to the lights. Once we're at the neighborhood, it's a little free-form; I try to guide people to a couple of houses I know about that have become landmarks over the years ("oh, hey, wait, this way there's a guy who has an inflatable snowman holding a shotgun" or "a half a block down this street is the house with animatronic nutcrackers") but otherwise it's the will of the group. Then we usually decide whether we want food at a restaurant or we want to head back to my place.

It's super-casual and the lights are gloriously stupid. It also doesn't call for a huge food menu, mostly just snacky stuff - this year I'm going to have it like all the food is from a German Christmas market, so it'll be sausage and fries, cookies, maybe some grilled mushrooms if people want, and mulled wine and cider and hot chocolate.

I"ve mentioned before that one of the two big holidays per year is a very small affair, since my brother is with his in-laws and the rest of the cousins coordinate and do the same; which leaves me and my parents saying "eh, fuck it" and just meeting for lunch for the day the weekend before. But my sister-in-law's family had a death in the family recently, so they're very likely going to spend both holidays with her side. Which would mean that I'm looking at a very quiet Thanksgiving AND Christmas. And....I am surprisingly okay with that. I'm already looking at making turkey paprikash for Thanksgiving, and as for Christmas...I may just go all-out and eat nothing but cookies all day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:39 PM on November 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

This will be the first time since I left for college, so about 20 years, that I don't have to DRIVE for Christmas, because I've moved back to my hometown. I don't have to pre-ship presents or do car-packing Tetris or worry about children getting sick and borking our travel plans last-second or try to get a baby to nap in a strange place or ANY of that stuff. I am a 6-minute drive from grandma's house! I can sleep in my own bed! Pull clothes out of the closet! Take misbehaving children home! Drop presents at grandma's when it's convenient! Cook holiday foods! It will be SO. NICE.

I'm debating whether to put up the tree or not, given the small house we're in and the toddler's new-found toddling skill and desire to chew on All The Things, and the kitten's status as Still a Kitten. Maybe just a table-top tree this year.

I've just started the hunt for ornaments ... in my family, all the kids get ornaments related to their interests that year, so you've got to think of interests and then find ornaments that match them!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:42 PM on November 11, 2017 [10 favorites]

I promised McMikeNamara that if I successfully finished my Halloween costume (I did), I would make a Christmas costume. Specifically, this one. But I have not even started it. Fortunately, no-one has scheduled a holiday party and I can plausibly put it off until next year!

I have started making my plaid wool cape for the wintry season, however. The plaid-matching seems to have gone really well (I AM SO RELIEVED) but I'm frankly intimidated by the welts for the armholes. I have this amazing raspberry-colored silk for the lining, though, and it's all going to be so luxe.
posted by crush at 5:42 PM on November 11, 2017 [13 favorites]

Through a combination of circumstances, I have 5 days off at Christmas, Dec. 22-26. Not content with that, I have finagled permission to use 4 days of vacation time at Thanksgiving -- this is not easy to do where I work -- and now for that holiday I will have TEN days off, Nov. 17-26. BLISS.

And I am not going ANYWHERE for either of those holidays. If boyfriend (whose life sometimes is an exhausting mass of obligations) wants to join me and the cats, great, but I am perfectly mentally prepared for 15 glorious days of peace and quiet. Books and music. Cooking and expensive wine. Sleeping late. Petting cats.

I just bought something I've always wanted -- a ceramic Christmas tree.

Also, this afternoon I nearly froze my feet off at a college football game. Luckily there was a restaurant nearby with tomato soup. It took a lot of soup, but I recovered.
posted by JanetLand at 5:45 PM on November 11, 2017 [10 favorites]

My best friend and I are gonna do a little Thanksgiving dinner by ourselves, and we are so excited to try shiitake bacon!
posted by moonmilk at 5:49 PM on November 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

I am so happy to hear about how everyone's holiday plans are falling into place. I love Christmas and I love getting together with loved ones to celebrate and eat and drink incautious amounts of food and drink and listen to syrupy and / or traditional music and decorate all the things! so it gladdens my heart to see that others are planning to, as well.

For US Thanksgiving, I'm going to a coworker's for a potluck there-will-be-no-turkey Thanksgiving which means I'm considering buying the smallest turkey I can find and cooking it the day after for spouse and I, because I like turkey dammit.

Going to the inlaws' for Christmas this year, which makes 2 years since I saw my side of the family at Christmas (last year we were camping in Patagonia) which is a little sad making, but a) mother in law just had a hip replacement and will appreciate the help & the visit, and b) them's the breaks when you marry someone from the other side of the country.

I have plans to decorate on a THEME this year which is truly very silly but I don't care! I have a bit of money stashed for "house stuff" and a gift card left over from our wedding (lol, a year and a half ago) and another gift card from my birthday and I am planning on using (some of) that cash on decorations and no one can stop me.
posted by quaking fajita at 5:54 PM on November 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Last year I picked up a new 4ft prelit white tree from Big Lots. Didn't use it last year (got it about two days before xmas.) So I'm going to put my 18 inch tree up (um, it's been sitting on a coffee table all damn year) and put new tree up this year. I am using mostly turquoise and silver ornaments. Probably need more of both. Need to make a bow or something for it. Or maybe get a new star.

For thanksgiving it's just going to be me and my dad. I'll still make a small turkey and do a smaller meal of mostly carby stuff.

Xmas season sucked last year since it was the first xmas without my mom and xmas was always her thing. Trying to be proactive and excited about it this year. Forgot to get signed up for Quonsmas though.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

" I'm considering buying the smallest turkey I can find "

When I do turkey-for-two, I usually get a turkey breast, which is easy to find at the supermarket and is a good size for two-to-four people. (Or more, really, if you're anti-leftover.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:15 PM on November 11, 2017

But the breast is the worst part.
posted by quaking fajita at 6:16 PM on November 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Heh, I actually totally agree, although it's easier to keep the breast tasty when you're cooking ONLY the breast. Plus I wrap the whole thing in bacon which renders it acceptable. (And then I use the leftovers in a potpie, where it doesn't matter that it's boring white meat!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:18 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Having just spotted this (2lb capacity?! year long supply?!) I may backtrack on the "finished Christmas shopping" thing, though suspect if purchased that my inevitable emotion will be...

+ + + + +

Yesterday, I visited a church I had not been in before. Though that was not the purpose of my trip, which was photograph a tree that, at a certain angle, is apparently scary enough to make a bus driver crash his vehicle on passing. Ironically, I visited the tree by bus. We did not crash.

The church was nearby and, although this village is only a few miles from my abode and on several of my walking routes, I'd never been inside. But they were having an open afternoon so I dropped in, passing contrasting vehicles of a shiny motorbike and a disability electric scooter, and made sure to close the door behind me.

Within five seconds, I had cake forced onto me. A church elder asked "Would you like some cake?" I replied that I would in a while, but she looked disappointed and said "We have far too much still". Seeing how this was going to go, I asked for a slice of the chocolate cake. "It's very good; I made it myself", she said proudly. "Yes", I replied, "It looks as good as the chocolate cake I bought from the Sata... another local faith group last week."

With cake on a plate in one hand, I went to explore the church a little. They certainly like their kneelers, with several dozen, all clean and neatly arranged. Several were of a local windmill landmark, while some others celebrated royal events. Noticing a certain bird, I said to myself "Ah, there's one I suspect Jessamyn would like."

"Who is Jessamyn?" - another church elder had crept up behind me.
"Um, oh, hello." My mind had gone a little blank and flailed around a bit. "You know the Terminator films?"
"Yes", she replied, a little unconvincingly.
"Well, think of Jessamyn as the Sarah Conner of the Library World."
"Okay", she said, also unconvincingly.
"She lives in Vermont, likes moss and marries people. And..." I pointed at the kneeler, "Likes owls!"
"Very good. Would you like some more cake?" she unnecessarily asked.
"No thank you, as I haven't started this one yet."
At that point, she spotted that another visitor had left the door open, tutted loudly, and went to close it.

I ambled some more. The church was undergoing extensive work but services were still being held, and rehearsals were soon to be underway for the Rememberance event the next day.

Another elder or volunteer sidled up to me.

"Would you like some cake?" he asked after looking at my plate with the uneaten cake.
"No, thank you." I replied, slightly annoyed.
"No." I decided to change the subject. "What do you do?"
"I make the signs", he said proudly, pointing at one. I looked at it, and resisted the temptation to say something. The very very strong Dear Mary Mother Of God And All The Saints so strong temptation to say something.
"Very good", I replied, my brain screaming at me to say something else. "I will photograph your excellent sign." And I did.
Another visitor came over; as he took delight in pointing out his signage, I moved away.

I passed the kitchen area again and took a picture. Someone turned round.
"More cake?"
"No thank you." I replied, possibly a bit sharply.
"Are you local?"
"No. My local church is" and I described it in a convoluted sense. The other person turned around.
"Oh! That's Wendy's church!"
"She's the socialist I was telling you about", she said to her co-worker.
"Well, there's a strong thread of equality that runs through her sermons, if that's what you mean" I mildly corrected, feeling a surprisingly strong urge to defend my local vicar, even though I'm more Druid than Anglican.
"What colour is her hair this week?" I was asked. Unsure, I quickly consulted Twitter.
"Purple. Wendy's hair is purple this week."
"Oh. I remember when it was red. Like the flag. More cake?"
"No. Thank you, but no."
I ambled down the aisle, remembering a very elderly local who recently described my local vicar as a "raging feminist far to the left of Jeremy Corbyn, and that's why I come here". Which is probably true. And why I listen to her sermons some times as well.

The vicar of the church appeared. Female, black jeans, swept-back blonde hair, dark jacket, vicar collar. I suspected that it was her motorbike outside, and had a vague recollection of watching Suzi Quatro on Top of the Pops in my youth.
"Have you got some ca... Ah. I see you have."
"Yes. I have."
We had a pleasant conversation, though at one point I had to explain the difference between a Druid, Pagan and Wiccan, which was a little strange. Especially as this church was in the middle of a small area with a lot of activity by all three. Maybe she was testing me.
I ate the cake while we were talking. Slightly inappropriate thoughts about vicars went through my middle aged heterosexual male brain. I wondered if she made jam. Some more people came in, but sat down.
"Would you like to stay for our rehearsal? We're starting now."
"No, thank you. Must get on, as it will be dark soon and it's a good walk back to base."
"Okay. Would you like some more cake?"
"No thank you."
"Would you like to take some cake with you?"
"No, I'm fine."
"We have a lot left."
"No, it's okay."
"Please take some."
"No, seriously, I'm good."
"I'll find some tupperware."

At which point I left, taking a photo through the door - which I had closed behind me - on the way out, and walked very briskly down the church path. past the motorbike, and down the hill before I could be pursued by someone with cake.

It's dangerous, living in rural England. You have no idea.
posted by Wordshore at 6:27 PM on November 11, 2017 [58 favorites]

Well not much special for the holidays. We might go somewhere warm for a few weeks because we are getting sick of the cold, but no firm plans have arisen yet.

I do have a question though, that isn't appropriate for Ask, so if it isn't improper, I would like to ask it here. Am I too old (40 is my next birthday) to get an ice cream cake for my birthday? Because I just saw some ice cream cakes and figured I would like to have one, but some small part of me said that I am too old for such things. Screw the voice that said that, right?
posted by Literaryhero at 6:27 PM on November 11, 2017 [7 favorites]

I think you know that the answer to that question is "Hell no, you are not too old to get an ice cream cake for your birthday". Get two! or four - one for each decade.
posted by mogget at 6:34 PM on November 11, 2017 [21 favorites]

We moved on Thursday and Friday. I'm currently sitting in a lawn chair because the new couch that was due to be delivered to our new place today didn't show, and the delivery company claimed the phone number was bad and we weren't home when they tried to deliver.

They never tried.

I just hope we are unpacked enough by Thanksgiving to have toom to celebrate.
posted by COD at 6:34 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I yearn for a world where we all feel free to have 1) whatever cake we want, and B) no cake if we don't want.

Get the ice cream cake, Literaryhero.
posted by JanetLand at 6:35 PM on November 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

" Am I too old (40 is my next birthday) to get an ice cream cake for my birthday? "

Hahahahahaha, WHUT? Get the ice cream cake! Who ever heard of being too old for ice cream cake?
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:37 PM on November 11, 2017 [17 favorites]

Adding my voice to the chorus of ice cream cakes are delicious and you should get one, Literaryhero
posted by quaking fajita at 6:46 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

No. You're never too old for ice cream cake.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:47 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wish I had an ice cream cake RIGHT NOW. I will bring one to Thanksgiving brunch at my parents' house.
posted by crush at 7:02 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have to buy cake for my dad's birthday tomorrow. He will be served ice cream cake.
posted by zachlipton at 7:22 PM on November 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Another vote for ice-cream cake. I don't even really like cake, but one should have the cake one wants! Or is foisted upon one from church elders!
posted by lazuli at 7:32 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

In our house, only the grownups get ice cream cake for their birthday. (This is due to a combination of not wanting to bake my own birthday cake and being unwilling to spend $20 on a cake for the kids. But I do bake them obscenely-bright rainbow cakes for their birthdays, which seems to make them happy.)

The only food I must have for Thanksgiving is stuffing.

I went to Aldi today & was delighted to find that the panettone and German Christmas cookies are already on the shelf. Once the stollen shows up, my holiday food cravings will be satisfied.
posted by belladonna at 7:32 PM on November 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Am I too old (40 is my next birthday) to get an ice cream cake for my birthday?

You're too old to have to wait for your birthday for ice cream cake. Random ice cream cake tastes just as awesome as birthday ice cream cake.

We're staying in Chicago for Thanksgiving. It's been a rough fall and I need to hibernate. I am going to do nothing but eat and watch football and holiday movies. My husband has decided to cook this year (I did Thanksgiving last year) so I will clean up. He's way better and cleaning as he goes than I am, so I come out ahead in this deal.

I'm generally opposed to Christmas before Thanksgiving, but I'm hoping those Rosemary Christmas trees arrive at WF soon, I really like the smell.

We are going home for Christmas: we'll both have family from out of state returning to the fold so we'll get to see everyone.

I'm cautiously excited: we're taking the train home for Christmas. I have fond memories taking the train in grad school, its cheaper than flying, and we can walk to the station from our apartment. It's also Amtrak, though, so it'll probably run late. And who knows what other shenanigans. I'm unsure if I should hope that there's a bar car or not.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:36 PM on November 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

We'll be celebrating a very low key Christmas in Danang, Vietnam this year, with the Dang side of the family.

I'm absolutely jonesing for the holiday - I haven't had one all year. At the same time, extended family holidays can sometimes slip into working holidays, and things currently aren't as organised as I like... I'm trying not to be too uptight about it ("not being too uptight about things" bit of a work in progress for me!).

Ten years ago, we spent Christmas in Vietnam, high up in the mountains near China. It was freezing cold, and dark, and absolutely lovely (Australian Christmases are typically over 86 Fahrenheit, usually much more). What this year will hold, I'm not sure - though last year I ended up in hospital so it should be better no matter what.
posted by smoke at 7:44 PM on November 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

I intend to celebrate by doing nothing. I am newly freed of my worry that I might have to spend the holiday recovering from jaw surgery, and I'm not going anywhere or hosting anyone or doing anything except for watching the spousal unit go nuts in the kitchen and make some sort of elaborate extravaganza that gets eaten by two to three people sitting around in our damn pajamas.

I'm so excited I could spit.
posted by sciatrix at 7:54 PM on November 11, 2017 [7 favorites]

Panettone cake, I already killed one of these. They just merge with me on some mystical level. I don't even remember where I bought it, when I bought it, see, this thread reminded me that I already had my holiday cake. Scary! It was before Halloween. Wow. But, if it is before Halloween, does that really make it a Holiday Cake? Maybe I should find another one to be my authentic Holiday Cake. Wow, they come with their own unique logic.
posted by Oyéah at 7:55 PM on November 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Hmmm, maybe I should bake a fruitcake this year.

(My mom's fruitcake, that she makes every 2 years and freezes one, is a white old-fashioned style fruitcake that mostly just tastes like booze and glacéed fruit. It's delicious, and a hearty "Merry Christmas" I say to the fruitcake haters)
posted by quaking fajita at 8:08 PM on November 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

This story is not apropos of the holidays or anything besides what I did today and now what's in my head. Heh.

So earlier I got a patch test on my back, which stays on and mildly annoys me until midday Monday. The nice physician's assistant who stuck it to my back said something about how if my husband wants me to cook for him tonight, I should just say, "Not tonight, honey," and I just chuckled. I couldn't think of what to say, because I realized, yeah, that's not even a thing in our house. We've never been particularly mainstream in our respective gender roles, and I don't cook the two of us dinner ever these days, now that most of the stuff I like to cook is stuff he can't eat. Our schedules also differ so much that we don't really even eat the same stuff most of the time as of late. I got lost in a train of thought about whether that's reflective of liberation or despair—great, I don't have to cook dinner! But not great, we don't eat together much. Great, I can afford to order in dinner! But not great, I should save my money. This train of thought has no real point except point-counterpoint.

Heh, but he just asked me if I could help carry his laundry upstairs, and indeed I can't. I was specifically forbidden to do so, or any other exertion or physical labor that could move the patch test around or make me sweat. I'm just chillin'...
posted by limeonaire at 8:29 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

That said, the patch test didn't keep me from doing light quonsmas shopping earlier. Yesssssss.
posted by limeonaire at 8:36 PM on November 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had Practice Thanksgiving today at a friend's, which was a good time mostly spent telling funny animal stories (and with a professional dog breeder, a lifelong horse nerd, and several People of Many Pets in the crowd, the quality is high.) Actual Thanksgiving will be (for the first time in a few years for me, and the first time ever for my many-relatived wife) a quiet affair with just a couple very good friends, which is honestly how I prefer it. I am really not a holiday person for several reasons, and while I will probably end up at a dinner party on Christmas, I reserve the right to duck out of it and watch trashy cooking shows instead.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:45 PM on November 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

Haha, this Vogue Japan photo captures my current feelings quite well.
posted by limeonaire at 8:56 PM on November 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

My work acapella group just did our Halloween concert, so it's straight on to "holiday" music! (Which is basically Christmas carols with the JESUS JESUS LORD JESUS ones taken out.)

This is the most wonderful time of the year, when the number of unique words spoken per part shoots way, way up -- most other concerts are like {doo, dah, dat, dit, dum, oo, oh, woah, ah, mm, ...}, but everyone actually gets words this time. Carols are also full of secondary dominants / feelings of modulation, which I really like, but get to do as much!

We have to start now because the first "holiday" singing event is Dec. 1, strictly breaking the "no Christmas until Thanksgiving" rule. Maybe afterwards we'll learn some carols with nerdier lyrics ("silent night / silent night / queries flow / pager's quiet"), as there's plenty of time.

I also did light quonsmas shopping today!

Aside from that, I made a super parmesan-y ziti, and am now dreaming of super-deep lasagna...
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:04 PM on November 11, 2017 [4 favorites]

The “holidays” make me cranky.

1. If I want to see my family (75% of which is just small talk pretending we care) I have to fly from the west coast to the east coast. I haaaaate flying at the holidays.

2. I don’t like turkey. Or ham.

3. I don’t enjoy shopping.

4. I don’t have anyone with whom to exchange gifts.

5. I’m so cold. It’s cold out there.

Is this not what this thread is about? 😐
posted by bendy at 9:49 PM on November 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Well, let's see. I have a little bag of chocolate gelt to give to the kids at work--I mean, my coworkers' kids--at Hanukkah, so I should look up when the hell Hanukkah actually is this year. Also it might be nice to actually light a candle at home for a change.
We are planning to get married on Christmas Eve (he's not usually such a romantic, geez, give me a break), which is a good thing, but also means a fuckbushel (wow, that sounds way dirtier than a fuckton for some reason) of paperwork and checking in with lawyers and consulates and God knows what. Knock wood. Christmas Day, of course, is an ordinary work day, except that I will be surreptitiously checking the Yuletide fics via my work computer. Ahem.
In between Christmas and New Year's is late-night Wagner week on the radio (one of this country's most mysterious customs) which I look forward to all year, because the music is fantastic even if the composer was a shit.
For New Year's we will probably sleep in nice and late, eat some strawberries, and go to the shrine near my old apartment--a little neighborhood shrine tucked up on its own hill, cozy and peaceful, full of incongruous SF references for me--the Amaterasu shrine with a stone with a hole in it that I always think of as the way to see the Red Star, and the big, venerable, exquisite camphor tree that reminds me of the Father Tree from Elfquest.
posted by huimangm at 9:53 PM on November 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

Also Wordshore, is there any place you go where people don't offer you cake?
(And how do I acquire this talent?)
posted by huimangm at 10:21 PM on November 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

These holidays mean gearing up for a big change for me: Thanksgiving will be my first day of Not Employed. So far, that's the only plan for Not Turkey Day (I'm four months vegan). The beginning of December will find me packing up my life here in Oakland, and Christmas Day I will be on the road with my two cats; looking at the map, I'm guessing we'll be driving through Missouri, cats yowling out carols in the backseat. I'll arrive in my new home - Cincinnati, Ohio - to stay at an AirBnB for a few days while I get keys for a new apartment. I am hoping to ring in the new year in an empty apartment looking forward to building a new and more stable life for myself in 2018. They aren't perhaps the most festive of plans, perhaps a little lonely, but I'm very, very excited. The holidays are my favorite time of year, and I think the timing is apt for a fresh start and a big dose of hope.
posted by missmary6 at 10:55 PM on November 11, 2017 [19 favorites]

I'm looking forward to all the leaves being out of the trees, only having to leaf blow once more and then there be snow. I'm looking forward to the end of yard work and outdoor projects. I'm looking forward to finishing putting stuff up in the attic of my garage so we can park a car in it.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:03 PM on November 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

hello i was told there would be cake in this thread
posted by poffin boffin at 1:17 AM on November 12, 2017 [19 favorites]

Pretty awesome this year. First, we added a Canadian to the practice — we are happy to cover Canadian Thanksgiving while we all get the day off for the true, American Thanksgiving. This year, Seattle Public Schools are giving the kids the whole week off and it turns out the same is true for Los Angeles. So the Los Angeles cousins are coming up for an entire week of family kid play insanity which is so awesome because the five kids love each other *so much* and as a bonus their grandmother is coming to supervise all this so the adults can work and go out and drink. For dinner we will repeat our tradition of Alaskan King Crab legs, Cornish game hens and a great deal of wine and cheese. The traditional all day Star Wars marathon is likely out due to there being 8 films now and I’m thinking the kids may now be old enough for the all day Lord of the Rings marathon. Only one of the kids has read the books, so we might have them build their own FIFA 18 teams on the Xbox instead to play through a championship bracket tournament. Winner gets 2 slices of pie, losers wash dishes. Also, this is our first year we are big enough for a true “kid’s table” and I plan to take lots of pictures of the snotty 13 year old sitting glumly with the 6 year olds.

Christmas is low key, my wife and I are both working because on New Year’s Eve we are leaving for a 2 week trip to Cambodia and it is blowing my mind that I will be taking a literal Holiday in Cambodia. My primary goal is to buy a stick of Right Guard there and send it to Jello.*


posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:00 AM on November 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

I managed to plan approximately a million trips between now and January, so that's what I'm doing for the festive season. First I am going to Malaysia in about a week (for work), then to Canberra for a week (for work, not quite so exciting), then to New Zealand for Christmas (visiting family in small-town rural nowhere: it will be nice. There will probably be a lot of cups of tea and watching of cricket). Then I go to Canada for a week (for work, and also skiing). And then I have another trip to New Zealand, this time to avoid family and camp with medieval recreationists. This year we hope to finesse the sauna yurt, a late-night idea that we implemented a bit awkwardly last year, but I think could work very well if we are less drunk during construction.
posted by lollusc at 2:34 AM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Am I too old (40 is my next birthday) to get an ice cream cake for my birthday?

Not at all! One should not risk lackaday emotion through self-deprivation. To counter this possibility, make haste towards a shopkeeper selling finest cake of this nature and exchange coinage for said product - tarry not, fine MeFite!
posted by Wordshore at 2:54 AM on November 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

We will probably attend a cheese festival today. And in a little less than two weeks, we are going to a tony restaurant downtown so that other people can serve us a very nice Thanksgiving meal. (And we will tip them well because it's monstrous enough making other people work on a major holiday.) I have no golly gosh darn clue what we'll do on Christmas day, though I suppose since I hadn't already started planning it will mean being trapped at home, shivering under blankets, eating cold soup from a can.
posted by ardgedee at 2:57 AM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm the only sibling that doesn't live in the same city as my parents, so I do the traveling and everyone else does the cooking and decorating. I'm considering actually putting up a tree this year, though. My apartment is looking a little sparse with most of my stuff still in boxes after an unexpected move (hurricane Harvey), and a beast of a job that either has me bringing home work or too tired to unpack.

Christmas dinner is always an Italian dish with homemade pasta sauce. Usually spaghetti but sometimes manicotti or lasagna. I'd miss that sauce if mom decided to make something different.

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is that because of the huuuge midday meal, everyone is too stuffed for a proper dinner. So late in the evening my dad, brother and I end up making leftover sandwiches together and we all snack in front of the tv.

In a few hours I'll be off to the fourth craft show of the month. I just love walking around looking at all the booths even if I don't end up buying anything. It's the only Christmasy thing I do before Thanksgiving, and one of my favorite things about this time of year.
posted by rakaidan at 3:22 AM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

I’m basically skipping the holidays this year and I couldn’t be happier. I’m on the road. I’m traveling. And after 35 years of making Thanksgiving dinner for anywhere from 3 to 40 people (usually in the 12 range) i’m just done. It feels glorious. I might meet my brother in Tucson or I might just spend Thanksgiving alone in the desert. I’ve never spent Thanksgiving alone. It could be time. Christmas, i’ll be in LA, probably with that same brother and I hope we go out for Chinese, because I’ve never done that either. Maybe next year I’ll go back to a tree and presents and a cold snowy day and cooking a big fancy meal and so on, stockings, eggnog and listening to A Child’s Christmas in Wales, but this year, nope, bring it on sand and cacti and pink flamingos and neon and a white box of sesame noodles.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:38 AM on November 12, 2017 [13 favorites]

I am also looking forward to the part of the holiday where we rip somebody out of their home, force them to wear a specific outfit, and keep them barely alive for a month on nothing but water. I'm pretty sure we do this to keep the indigenous population, which outnumbers us, in line.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:38 AM on November 12, 2017

The first set of holidays spent completely alone was a bit of a relief. The second--I'm not feeling like this is the sort of thing that means I should make stuff up to my family, but I'm having a difficult time with the concept that this is possibly going to be permanent, and that's been challenging. Last year I worked over Thanksgiving weekend and it was a good distraction. This year, I've got stuff to do with the few days I get off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I'm not sure I can do anything celebratory without it feeling pretty awful.

Last year I went to the movies on Christmas and let me tell you, if you ever find yourself going to the movies alone as your Christmas plan, ask someone who's seen the film first if there's anything even remotely sad in it. I nearly had a total breakdown. I think this year I'm basically just going to spend both occasions doing drunk video games and/or drunk fanfic and waiting for New Year's to arrive at last. I actually feel really good about my life right now and I think 2018 is going to be great, but this particular next six weeks or so is the literal worst.
posted by Sequence at 6:10 AM on November 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Holidays are both a thing and not a thing with my family. My sister and I always check in with the other to make sure we're both doing a thing we want to be doing, and often spend the holiday together. This will be the first parentless set of holidays for us and even though we rarely saw either of my folks on any of the holidays, we're making sure we stay busy.

- Kicking off with Thanksgiving which was always right around my dad's birthday. At some point my mom decided to spend T'giving with her foster son and told us we could take it or leave it (He's an ok guy but there's a lot of drama around my mom's relationship with him and calling him her "do over" kid, which, really mom?) so we do our own thing. This year it's... food? And hangout? And a walk? No specific plans. And then n_o_d goes to see his mom and his dad who has Alzheimers, out in AZ. I pick up my snow tires from my dad's garage and then head back to VT.
- n_o_d and bondcliff and maryr birthday! Most people may know by now but I met n_o_d at a meetup where bondcliff was also in attendance. At that point we discovered they had the same exact birthday (as well as first and middle name) so now we all so a thing every year together with one other friend of bondcliff's who shares the birthday. It's a ten-person party and four have the same birthday.
- Solstice bonfire with neighbors
- Chinese food and movies for Xmas. And then we will probably put on our plush heads and go walk around the beach and delight children if it's a warm xmas.
- NY Eve party with neighbors

Even though I usually enjoy the holiday season and my sister is one of my favorite people (and my boyfriend is too, of course) I always approach the holidays with some trepidation because of Other People's Emotions. If I can keep most of those at bay I will be fine.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:43 AM on November 12, 2017 [13 favorites]

Switching up holidays this year and having Thanksgiving with my in-laws and then Christmas with my family.

Am I the only one who has no issues with their in-laws but dreads having to deal with their own family over the holidays? Oddly, my wife feels the same way but switched; her family drives her crazy but she loves hanging out with mine.
posted by octothorpe at 7:46 AM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

I thought I would be in Indonesia by now, but I am still on the US, so I get to celebrate all the holidays! I'm very excited.

Usually, my family celebrates Thanksgiving with my mom's mother. It is a big family event with matzoh ball soup and brisket and turkey and absurd amounts of food, and then my dad and I take fake fight pictures on Saturday because his PhD is from Michigan and mine is from OSU.

This year, I was invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his siblings, so I am going to shake things up dramatically and do that! This will be my first Thanksgiving in the US not with my family, so it should be interesting. I'm excited, though. We'll be in Brooklyn, I'll make some apple crisp, we're getting everything else from Wegman's, and it will be good.

Because I'm in the US, I also get to do Chanukah and Christmas this year. I buy the guys I worked with in Côte d'Ivoire a pig for Christmas every year, so I'll do that again. My boyfriend grew up JW so his parents don't do Christmas or anything, so I think I'll invite him to my other grandma's for Christmas Eve and my parents' for Christmas. This is the first year I haven't had to fly home for winter holidays,. So that will also be less stressful. I plan on making latkes and applesauce and soaking up as much winter as possible.

I turn 30 in January and I'll either be in Boston with friends and family, or in the middle of a rainforest with orangutans. Either way, I'm feeling pretty good about how my third decade is wrapping up and my fourth decade will start out!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:52 AM on November 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

This year, husband and I will be spending Christmas with our weird and wild very Irish Catholic family. As we're both Jews, this came about because my husband's partner, Jeff, who died in 1999 was also my dear friend and his family sort of adopted us after he died. We call Jeff's mom our other mother-in-law. She is one of 9 children (8 girls, one boy!) and you have to understand how culturally different they are from our birth families. Husband comes from an extremely insular new york jewish people with few ties to their extended relatives. They are all introverts. Also, they never really celebrated any holidays growing up because dad was unmedicated probably bipolar and didn't believe in gifts at proscribed times. I grew up in an outwardly upwardly mobile Jewish family in Los Angeles who all moderately disliked each other but were too polite to say so.

Jeff's family is loud, drunk, says what they feel, expressive, extroverted and did I mention, they drink a little. It's raucous and I'm really looking forward to being with them again. The last Christmas we spent with them was the year after Jeff died. While we see them throughout the year, Christmas with this clan is like nothing else.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:59 AM on November 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

I dutifully invited my parents for Christmas but neither of them can come and I’m actually pretty relieved.
posted by corb at 8:00 AM on November 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm not looking forward to December to be honest. It's the busiest time of the year for my work and I have an entire month of 3-11 p.m. shifts to look forward to. It sort of turns me into a hermit where I don't see a lot of people. But there's not too much I can do about that. So I'm making sure that I have a lot of coffee readily available and look forward to some holiday classic films that I always watch around this time of year. I'm kind of done with 2017 to be honest. I'm ready for 2018 to get here. I'm also cranky right now, so I'll stop typing.
posted by Fizz at 8:13 AM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Fuck I totally forgot Hannukah. I am the one in charge of the menorah at the public school where I work. We always make some sort of a weird menorah at home.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:20 AM on November 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm not really looking forward to the holiday season. I never do. It's just mostly stress and weird family issues and I'd prefer to just skip it altogether.

I'm not a total scrooge. I generally like Christmas day with my family (the one I made, not the one I was born into) and Thanksgiving will be over my in-laws with their adult kids, who are awesome, and some friends and it will be a fun day. Those days will be good.

But the season itself bugs me. The stress of getting gifts and annoying Christmas music playing everywhere... gah. At least this year I have the BIG GIFT already bought for my wife so that's a bit less stress. I don't think she reads MeFi much but just in case I won't mention what it is. She'll love it though.

I've hardly been able to talk to my mom since the election and I don't know what to do about that. I have her for dinner maybe once a month out of guilt but there's this big 'WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?" boiling up inside but it's not really worth getting out. So I'm not sure how that'll go over at the holidays. My dad and his wife are Fox News watching Trump supporters as well and I'll have to go over there around Christmas and just sort of tolerate it.

My birthday has dramatically improved the past few years, thanks to SuperMega Birthday that Jessamyn mentioned. I never really did much about my birthday before but it's nice to spend it with a gang and share the day like we do.

So yeah. Holidays... yay?

Oh... I am working on my Secret Quonsar gift. I have some pretty good ideas and and the project I'm working on is kind of right up my alley so that should keep me busy for a bit. I find doing stuff like that around this time of year really helps with my mood and gives me a sense of purpose. Takes a bit of the holiday bullshit away and makes it make a bit more sense.
posted by bondcliff at 8:29 AM on November 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

My brother and his family just moved back to my hometown, which means that I'm the only one traveling for Thanksgiving, which I think will be a big relief to my mom. I'm a pretty easy houseguest, comparatively. My nephew has recently become interested in computer programming, and my programming skills are at the point where I can do things that he finds cool, so we'll probably do some coding together, which will be fun. (We've been doing a little bit over FaceTime: I dictate and he types and runs. This works ok for really basic stuff, but there are pretty big limits to what we can do that way.) I have a Raspberry Pi that I've never done anything with, and I'm wondering if I should try to come up with some cool little project for us to do together.

For Christmas, I'm visiting my other brother's family in Japan. I'm simultaneously excited and nervous. Excited because I don't get to see them very often, plus Japan, plus it's a huge relief to spend Christmas in a place where everyone celebrates the holiday in a completely non-religious, goofy way. But I'm nervous because Tokyo is complete sensory overload, plus I find the extended family interactions to be pretty tough from a social anxiety perspective. I haven't started amassing gifts, and I need to do that. There is *a lot* of gift-giving involved in visiting family in Japan.

In other news, this is my first holiday season in a house, and I'm sort of taken aback by how badly I want to decorate for the holidays. I come from a family that Does Not Decorate Because That's for Goyim, but damnit, I want to put up fairy lights. I'm going to compromise by putting snowflakes on my windows, partly to stop the kamikaze birds from flying into the windows once I take my Halloween bats down.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:43 AM on November 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

The holidays make me sad and I don't know why. They seem formal & I do not enjoy formal in any capacity. It just seems itchy and trapped.

So for the turkey portion of the program mrs yoga and I hang at our place & she makes food while I fart around at my desk or play guitar or watch the Macy's parade. It's always nice to spend time home with just us 2 and the cats & dogs. Even though we do it all the time, it's still nice & never gets old.

She is more introverted than I am, so I can go hang with neighbors or go look at my friends' chickens poke around in the yard if I need a change of scenery & she's happy as a clam to hang on her own while I roam.

We have a thing outside where we can have small fires, so I've been doing one of those every couple of weeks since it got cooler. Sometimes I have it to myself, sometimes neighbors join. So burning things will be on the agenda over the holidays for sure. And beverages. LOTS of beverages.
posted by yoga at 8:55 AM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just said goodbye to the in-laws this morning, quick brunch with friends in the November sunshine and then we spent the afternoon cleaning the house before my folks fly in tonight. Taking them to Cirque de Soleil this coming Friday, then the folks will catsit arcticcat while we go to Jerusalem for 5 days, they head home to the UK and then in three weeks they're back with my sister for Christmas. It's going to be a busy month, good thing we did Canadian Thanksgiving, don't think we'd have time for American Thanksgiving.

Eat. The. Damn. Cake.
posted by arcticseal at 8:58 AM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Eat. The. Damn. Cake.

There is a specific church here in rural England which may welcome your services gladly as a volunteer or elder on open days.
posted by Wordshore at 9:24 AM on November 12, 2017 [23 favorites]

I adore the holidays but only because I firmly put my foot down when I had children and said, "If you want to see the children on XHoliday, here are the days/times you may do so; otherwise, we are doing our own nuclear family stuff and you are not invited." I said it nicer than that but that was the gist. I think there were hurt feelings initially but fuck it. My kids, my rules. I never had ANY autonomy at holiday time (or any time, really) so I wanted to make sure my kids had plenty of down time and time to do the things they wanted to do with us. Also, this means I get to stay in my own house and make the food I want to make. I'm kind of a control freak, as it turns out.

I host Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. My turkey is always AWESOME and I wouldn't be happy without the dressing and the mashed potatoes. Also, my grandma's chocolate pie that I now make.

I'm looking forward to all of our (secular) Christmas traditions: getting the tree (and decorating it), going ice skating with friends, watching our ever growing list of Christmas and Christmas related movies, Chinese food on Christmas Eve, and staying in our jammies for the entirety of Christmas Day. Then out friends host a big, themed NYE party and that's fun.

Mostly I'm looking forward to my college junior coming home for a month!
posted by cooker girl at 9:40 AM on November 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

Tis the season to debate what to do about Christmas now that the resident teenager hates it. Putting up and decorating the tree was our one big family tradition pre-divorce and now just seeing the tree upsets her all month. Two years ago I decided to die on this hill - I have acceded to your wishes on a lot of things because it's been a difficult year but damn it we are still a family and still going to have Christmas - but it makes the whole month tense. Last year was better because we went to a tree farm with friends and what 13-year-old doesn't love being handed her own hacksaw, but once the tree was home she hung a few decorations, went to her room, closed the door, and left me to finish.

What say you, internet? I'm not raising her Christian so it's a sentimental holiday tradition, not a religious one. We could just skip it but I love having a Christmas tree and look forward to it all year. Am I a shitty divorced mom compounding my kid's trauma or a good one for trying to maintain normalcy and tradition? In 10 years will she thank me or still be in therapy?
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:35 AM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

My gut reaction is, decorate the tree without her. Dont focrce her to do it with you. Just as she cannot demand you don't put up a tre you should not force her to decorate it.
posted by 15L06 at 11:56 AM on November 12, 2017 [12 favorites]

At 14, would she be impressed by being able to string up lights in her room and elsewhere? Or by a large craft project to be displayed prominently? Or for that matter by some kind of computer-controlled thing with LED lights.
With apologies for stalking your past questions a little, it seems possible you could both get something out of doing something geeky or fandom-adjacent if she's still into that kind of stuff. Or maybe she wouldn't care as much about decoration but would be interested in a series of holiday non-decorating-related activities once you've done the decorating part. Seems like a good age for the stuff that requires a bit more planning, like actually doing fancier cookie-decorating projects, or gingerbread houses, or making candles, or things like that. (Look, I'm just saying, if I had anybody to do it with, I would be all over establishing a Traditional Christmas Yuri on Ice Marathon.)
posted by Sequence at 12:29 PM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would do as 15L06 suggests and split the difference. You put up your tree; she needn't participate. Be sure you're talking about it, though, so she does not feel like you're trampling her feelings. Let her know your compromise is to keep the tree tradition because it makes you feel better and to let her opt out of the tree trimming because it makes her sad.
posted by crush at 12:32 PM on November 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

In 10 years will she thank me or still be in therapy?

Probably both. You are not shitty and are allowed to have the traditions that are meaningful to you as well as whatever the two of you do together. Have and enjoy your tree. You may have to manage the fact that she may not feel like doing "family" things post-divorce, and that should be okay also. Make it clear you are doing the tree, presents, etc for you and that she is welcome to join in or not and that you care about how she feels. You had many Christmases without Mom+Other Parent+Kid that may have been meaningful to you. She (likely, I am guessing here) has not, and this divorce may have affected her feelings about the holiday in a very different way from how it's affecting you.

It might be a great opportunity for you guys to forge some new traditions that are meaningful for your reconfigured family based on things you both care about. I am nearly 50 and I can still remember the first Christmas my family had after my parents split up when I was about her age. It was not a great time and one of the more difficult parts was feeling like my parents were so bent out of shape about the whole thing (and trying to appear normal) that it was actually more difficult than if someone had said "You know it's a weird time, let's not let holiday oppressiveness make it weirder. What do you feel like doing?"
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:37 PM on November 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

Oh, I guess I would like to say why I like holiday songs so much, since I don't belong to any religion personally -- as an immigrant child in elementary school, there were lots of things that everyone and their parents "just knew". So many places, songs, references, etc. When we learned the words and tunes in music class, I felt like I could be in the club of people who "knew".

This isn't to say that we learned only culturally dominant carols -- one of the more memorable songs was "Peace be with you" (in 12 languages). I pointedly did not sing the Chinese portion of the song.

And though I forgot when I went to the store this morning, I am going to get LED lights for Koala this year, along with his usual pouch menorah! I would also like to put up my tiny blue tinsel tree and a gingerbread house, but we'll see what my partner thinks of that.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:36 PM on November 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

My first pumpkin pie of the season is almost done baking!
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:12 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am 43, and this is the first year that I have felt old. To be clear by 'old' I don't mean ready for an aged care home - I just mean 'shit, I'm not 28 anymore, am I?' And then I felt down about feeling old. And then I felt down about not being young, which sounds like it should be the same but it had some regret mingled in there as well.

The days are flashing by. This year has come and gone in a blink. My kids were born yesterday, and in January they'll be 11 and 9. Another blink and I'll be 50 and the oldest will be off to uni or getting a trade or living in our converted garage. I have wrinkles next to my eyes. They're smile lines, and that's something, but wrinkles. I suddenly care about superannuation law. I worry about fibre.

And to tie this to the thread topic, Christmas used to be one of those times when things slowed down, all the way down. Days were long, and to as the great Canadian poet said, the summer seemed to last forever. There was a great build up to Christmas, and it still felt like Christmas for weeks after. But for the last few years it's felt like a marker, and I can suddenly see the long line of markers behind it. Another year. Thud. Another one starting. Thud. And as the great New Jersey poet said, woah, we're halfway there. And by 'there' I mean in the ground, and by 'halfway' I'm being very optimistic given my family history and waistline.

I was lucky enough to be born with a talent for counting my blessings. My children are healthy. My marriage is healthy. Money isn't a worry. I learned to play the piano this year. Like, I can read music and play something with both hands and it doesn't sound completely rubbish. I'm about to bottle some really good mead. Worrying about fibre has seen me eat more broccoli and blueberries and I'm down 20 lbs. I am so very, very blessed in so many ways.

But I can't shake the growing feeling that, if life was a train, I'm travelling first class, and the view is spectacular, and how good is this wine, but have you noticed that the train seems to be travelling faster and faster? Also, has anybody seen the kids? They were crawling just over there.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:16 PM on November 12, 2017 [16 favorites]

... what single item would you miss terribly ...

Whole berry cranberry sauce. My sister makes some that's really good, but I don't have the patience for that, so I buy it in cans. The last can of Ocean Spray I bought seemed to have about half as many berries as I remember from years past. I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I bought two more cans this week. If fewer berries is the new trend, I'll probably just regretfully give up on cranberry sauce.

My Thanksgiving menu this year will probably be a smoked turkey leg, Kroger brand rustic sesame loaf, cranberry sauce, and Martinelli's sparkling apple cider. Possibly potato salad.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:55 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would feel sad about a thanksgiving meal that didn’t include cranberry. Could be cranberry anything, though I have a preference for the cranberry things I make. Mashed potatoes are pretty important to me on thanksgiving. I do not care a whit about turkey, unless I’m stuffing the crispy skin into my guilty mouth. I’m not even contrite about that.

Don’t know where I’ll be eating thanksgiving dinner this year, or who with. It’ll be fine. Maybe.

For the third year in a row I’ll be in a big house with about 20 friends ringing in the new year. On New Year’s Day I’ll kick off the eating with a huge batch of apple Dutch baby, and I’ll pretend to be mildly annoyed that I am ‘not allowed’ to make a different breakfast, like say bundt cakes or breakfast burritos. I’ve already had the first request for that particular breakfast to happen again.

Folks help me peel and slice the apples the night before, and I sauté them before I get into bed. So in the morning when the house is still silent, I just spread the warmed apples into rectangular casserole pans and pour the batter over. If I’m feeling generous I’ll make a pot of coffee for people who drink it. This 8:00 meal is followed by all the rest of the hobbit meals, and a viewing of the lord of the rings trilogy. For tea, it looks like we’ll do Texas themed. Corn bread with jalapeño jelly (I didn’t take the seeds out. It’s extra hot this year!), cold sweet tea, maybe some bacon jam for folks (like me!*) who don’t really go in for spicy foods. But other folks do all the rest of the cooking as I keep the kitchen in clean dish towels and orchestrate getting everyone to do their share of kitchen patrol. There’s talk of a sign up sheet this year so that some people don’t have to be...reminded.

*And yet I made at least 20 jars of jalapeño jelly. I can explain. There was extra jalapeño at the CSA, a few times. They sent me away with a box of jalapeños. What would you have done?? Now perhaps you also understand why I didn’t bother with the seeds this year. I also pickled some scotch bonnets and my eye still twitches when I think about that. Thank goodness the ladies at the grocery like me, they gave me plastic deli gloves to keep me safe and sane. Anybody in NYC need some jalapeño jelly?
posted by bilabial at 7:10 PM on November 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

My sister makes a delicious cranberry relish with Grand Marnier that starts with her melting sugar, dry, in a pan and then adding a bunch of citrus zest which sometimes causes interesting explosions. Once, I melted an insufficiently heat-resistant spoon into the sugar during the melting of the sugar part.
posted by crush at 7:16 PM on November 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

In our house, it's gotta be the cranberry sauce with the lines that we couldn't do without. Blorped out of the can whole so many of the lines remain intact for serving.

My mother is so appalled and makes a lovely whole-berry homemade cranberry sauce, but all of her children insist on the canned sauce with the lines. She buys like one can just so we won't whine. (It's so embarrassing when adults in their 30s whine.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:28 PM on November 12, 2017 [10 favorites]

We have Thanksgiving with my mom’s best friend, who also must have the canned cranberry sauce extracted from the can, with the lines. I love whole berry sauce, but I respect the canned stuff. You don’t fuck with tradition.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:45 PM on November 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

Also, I realized that I can make cranberry sauce even when it’s not Thanksgiving. This has been a bit of a revelation.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:46 PM on November 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

You can also buy canned cranberry sauce year round. There are miniature cans suitable for any meal, or mid-meal snacking! It changed my world to discover this.
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:07 PM on November 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I now have confirmed plans to get together with my husband, brother, sister, and sister's fiancee to watch Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, a week before Christmas. This will be the third year for the husband and I, though one of the previous years was on Thanksgiving, not Christmas, and we've skipped some years. The hope is to make it an family Christmas tradition. I have no explanation for any of this.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:58 PM on November 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am late to the ice cream cake question, but I just want to add that if you are near a Carvel, a Fudgie the Whale cake is the answer.
posted by AugustWest at 9:05 PM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Feliz pre-Navidad from Hong Kong, #asiasworldcity.

Today is cool and misty/drizzly and last night playing five-a-side football on the roof of the South China Athletic Association (reader, we lost) we agreed that we were *cold*. It was, at minimum, 21 degrees C, but you felt the damp in your bones! We seriously went from summer to winter in a week; a few days ago it was over 30.

Winter here lasts about six weeks - right after Christmas through early February, I guess - but the way people dress makes me think the very idea of being cold is terrifying to my fellow Hongkongers: down jackets and hats and scarves when it's anything less than 20. A Cold Weather Warning is issued by the Hong Kong Observatory when it dips below 12, with a reminder not to burn things for warmth in your flat.

My Christmas break this year is a couple weeks with momdonley and the Assorted Friends of the mdonleys in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and we're super-excited about escaping the 'cold' for a little glimpse of tropical perma-summer. I'm picking up my Quonsmas gift for my Quonsee TODAY OMG and am posting it tomorrow!

Overall: all is well.
posted by mdonley at 9:39 PM on November 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

I made a batch of dutch oven bread this weekend for dinner and to test the recipe, because I volunteered to bring bread for Thanksgiving. It tasted very good, but was a little too brown, so it was tricky to cut through. I've made some mental adjustments to the bake time for the second batch for the real deal.

I've also settled on the rest of my Thanksgiving contributions: Sweet potato-peanut butter pie, rum raisin pie, and a pear, kale, and cranberry salad with feta. There's also cranberry sauce to make, but it's so simple that the beau wants to do it himself.

A good friend of mine is coming to Thanksgiving, along with her two year old. Her husband's stuck on call, so we invited her over to our festivities. I'll enjoy having a bit of a buffer between me and my father-in-law, who is nice enough, but drives me crazy with his refusal to recognize his privilege (among other things).

I've also made a batch of persimmon pudding over the weekend, which is lovely and sweet and floral. I've got enough leftover persimmon for a few other things, but I also want to make another bourbon-pecan pie for the beau, and I've been eyeballing a cranberry-cream pie with leftover cranberry sauce. Plus gingerbread, butterscotch, egg nog, more pumpkin things... so many lovely holiday flavors!

Basically, I need to get myself invited to a few holiday parties just so I can make all of these recipes that I'm interested in.
posted by PearlRose at 6:40 AM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have secured another chocolate sponge cake from the local Satanists, and am considering further purchases for Christmas. Though I am unsure if they bake anything special for that specific event.

I have however politely declined their friendly invitation to attend a ritual. Apparently it is "pot lunch" style and everyone is to bring a dish, with a special request to provide foods which are vegetarian and vegan friendly, and also label any which are gluten free, or may contain nuts.
posted by Wordshore at 7:58 AM on November 13, 2017 [14 favorites]

> I have secured another chocolate sponge cake from the local Satanists, and am considering further purchases for Christmas.
Thank you for this, Wordshore. It made me laugh.

I love the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Turkey's okay, and it makes the best gravy, and I love stuffing. Turkey itself is best in a sandwich with mayo and horseradish and salt & pepper, to be eaten while watching bad tv late Thanksgiving night. Maybe some lettuce or even arugula. I will be going to my son's girlfriends' parents' which is an unknown. Considering taking a big batch of roasted squash or Brussels sprouts, in addition to pies and cranberry ice. I'm worried that there might be kidneys and liver in the stuffing; or other variations that I dislike.

Turkey is on sale, so I'll buy the smallest one I can find. Sorting through frozen turkeys is like handling frozen bowling balls. Anyway, I'll slice the turkey in half lengthwise and half can be in the freezer, and I'll make my own Tday meal with the other half over the long weekend. Turkey carcass makes fantastic stock, which makes fantastic risotto or soup.

Growing up, holidays were fraught. I loved being with my big family, but I hated the inevitable emotional extravaganzas. The table was always beautiful with china, silver, crystal, flowers. Such a lovely backdrop, but hard to separate that memory from the rest. For Reasons, I'm not in close touch with my remaining siblings. So, if you're also having Holiday Conflict, you're not alone. Hugs to those that want 'em.
posted by theora55 at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Theora55, I hear you. Holidays were so painful in my family. All the outward signs of holiday joy are there, but everyone is miserable. I went no contact with everyone but my sister this year and am actually kind of looking forward to the holidays for the first time ever doing exactly what we want, when we want and how we want. It's almost overwhelming with the possibilities.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:26 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The infant turns TWO this weekend, how did that happen??? So we are doing family this week and then an orphan's Thanksgiving next week - invitations not yet extended, I have no idea how this is coming together and am not worrying much besides having reserved a locally raised turkey of small size. I could happily give up the turkey (for a few years we did prime rib instead, at my insistence, and if we have lots of orphans I will probably make a pot roast in addition to the bird). It's a joint effort with my partner and they can do the invitations since they are the faculty member here, I'm the trailing spouse.

Xmas and Hanukah will be with my mother in law, who decorates extravagantly, lots of garlands and putti and decorative baubles and gold and silver. It's lovely actually and we are looking forward. Cousins and uncles for the child, eating and drinking and sneaky post-bedtime movies on tv for me (which we don't do at home, cable is a treat). There will be at least one instance of politics-related raised voices (MIL was a lobbyist for the chemical industry in DC until she retired, she has a weird reagan-era republicanism that results in a lot of both-sides-ism, as if collusion with a foreign power is somehow no worse than whitewater, and she has a personal hatred for Hillary that is hard for me to understand but seems related to being a lobbyist in DC in the 90s). I remain fond of her and accept that she has some real cognitive dissonance that is actually beyond my power to change, and I sympathise with my partner and back them up as I can. It could be so much worse, I send strength and warmth to all whose families keep cable news on tv 24/7 or engage in bullying and bigotry over the holiday meal.

I am watching the birds outside my window today, since most of the leaves in our thicket are down. Nuthatches, titmice, and a hairy woodpecker so far. And cardinals. I have never lived in a place with the variety of woodpeckers we have here, six species including pileated. The local vulture population has migrated I think - they hang out on the watertower at the end of my block, and last weekend there were about twice as many swooping around getting ready to move, and yesterday we only saw four. Turkey vultures and black vultures are regulars here.

Yesterday's leftover pie dough became a rolly bake with butter, raisins, and cinnamon, and I ate it for elevenses with my ginger tea. This week's baking has to include a cake for the birthday child, I am firmly on TEAM PIE but will respect the form. Am thinking sour cream pound cake or olive oil cake with grand marnier. Booze cake is fine for toddlers, right?

I am having secret quonsar insecurities - it's my first time, and I appear to have drawn a longtime, cherished user. Be gentle with me, o metafilter grandee!
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:27 AM on November 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Lawn Beaver - you will be fine. It is ALWAYS the thought that qounts at Quonsmasukkah.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:31 AM on November 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Booze cake is fine for toddlers, right?

I made a chocolate cake with a bourbon-caramel frosting to take to my friends' house for their bonfire a couple of weeks ago. They fed their two-year-old a slice of said cake, even after I mentioned said booze in it... so, it's totally fine!
posted by PearlRose at 9:37 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I did it. I hosted friendsgiving yesterday. I made everything from this single recipe plan. It was so fancy

To Start
Shrimp with Sriracha sauce
To drink: Bubbly wine
Turkey and Gravy
Classic Sage and Onion Stuffing
Golden Mashed Potatoes
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples & Hazelnuts
No-Knead Sweet Potato Rolls
To drink: American Pinot Noir
No-Bake Pumpkin Maple Crème Brûlée
Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake
Quince & Vanilla Sorbet

This was the most ambitious meal I've ever hosted. 7 of my best friends came. It was delightful.

I can't wait to do it again in ten years.
posted by rebent at 10:06 AM on November 13, 2017 [15 favorites]


Just found out that daughter has been accepted into her first choice college and another college high on her list!!! Now we wait for the other 7 and the financial aid packages/scholarships....
posted by cooker girl at 10:53 AM on November 13, 2017 [30 favorites]

This is the first holiday season in 15 years that only involves driving, no flying, and I am SO EXCITED. We are going to save so much money not flying all over the country to see people! We're hosting Friendsgiving this weekend in advance of driving over to Oregon for Thanksgiving; I'm thinking of making these lentil meatballs, but would welcome any other festive vegetarian recipe suggestions, since this is the first holiday we'll have since we stopped eating meat. For Christmas we'll be heading to Seattle, which always involves at least one visit to the Korean Spa, which is the highlight of my year. I'm also hoping to visit the Frye Museum with my partner's family while we're there; we won't have much time but were able to squeeze in a visit to SAM last time we were there, while the Yayoi Kusama exhibit was up, and it was amazing.
posted by stellaluna at 1:01 PM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh my god you guys. Did you know that thanksgiving is next week? I had no idea until this afternoon, I was wondering why we were posting about the holidays so early, but I figured it was just something fun and uplifting to talk about and then everyone started talking about friendsgiving this past weekend or coming up and I was like wow, we're doing this really early this year and then I realized that HOLY SHIT, it's almost thanksgiving where did the time go?????????????????
posted by Sophie1 at 1:21 PM on November 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

I have secured another chocolate sponge cake from the local Satanists

Imagining this in a British accent and prefaced "Dear diary" or perhaps "My dear Watson" has improved my entire afternoon.
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:27 PM on November 13, 2017 [14 favorites]

Or Patrick Stewart. 'Set course for Satanicus VI. This tea needs a side of heresy.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:12 PM on November 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Did you know that thanksgiving is next week?

Wasn't it a month ago?

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

My 6-year-old's school has a "Healthy Food of the Week" that they learn about every Monday in PE (hey, could go in the recent "PE: threat or menace?" thread!) and I always try to make something with the healthy food of the week because he's super into it and it's interesting to try ingredients I might not otherwise. Anyway, this week was CRANBERRIES so I just finished making some cranberry cookie bars and took one bite and shouted, "IT TASTES LIKE CHRISTMAS!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:00 PM on November 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

Oh my god you guys. Did you know that thanksgiving is next week?

Literally not until I read that. Shit. How does this keep happening to me?
posted by HotToddy at 6:10 PM on November 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Heading out this coming weekend to a big pinball event in Orlando. I probably won't compete (still recovering from July's auto accident) but I'll get to see my college-dwelling son for the first time in too long, so it's going to rock!

My husband's parent's home, five hours north, is our default holiday setting. This might be the last time this happens,, as health issues are arising with which they'll need help. We have recently moved to a bigger house, and the plan is for them to relocate to our area and move into our old house. So we can still celebrate together, but we'll be likely taking on the role of hosts after this year. I anticipate a lot of (justifiable) emotional rollercoasters around this final celebration. So special, but ... fraught.

The indespensible Thanksgiving dish? Italian wedding soup. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a rich broth loaded with tiny meatballs and escarole and locatelli cheese. Don't know how this dish came to be associated with Thanksgiving in my husbands family, but it is integral to the feast. And it is delicious. After a couple of decades celebrating this way, it's the flavor of the holidays.

Christmas features the Feast of the Seven Fishes and far too many cookies. Our New Year tradition is to go to bed early on the eve and start the new year well-rested, safely tucked away from the drunk drivers.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 6:58 PM on November 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Also, this afternoon I nearly froze my feet off at a college football game. Luckily there was a restaurant nearby with tomato soup. It took a lot of soup, but I recovered.

Were you soaking your feet in it??
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:59 PM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays since my mom died last year (she LOVED the holidays with an intensity I cannot begin to describe), but I'm trying to muster holiday spirit this year, partly for her and also because it's the Best Nephew in The World's first holiday season, so I'm trying to get into it. It's also one of the busiest times of year because I'm a full time lecturer and an almost full time phd student (I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea), so this thread is giving me life and reminding me that I am almost done with this semester's grind.

The holiday season for me kicks off with my regional professional meeting, which is always the weekend before Thanksgiving (WHY? But it works out for some of my fellow phd students, because they have family near our meeting). (Are you going to be in Mississippi watching the people who study rocks and rivers and the people who study people staring each other down, trying to figure out how we're at the same professional meeting? Do you want to get a beverage? Let me know.)

We get back from that on Tuesday, and Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of the year) is Thursday. We are eating:

Sausage balls
Spinach balls
Apples, baby carrots, cheese, pistachios in the shell

Smoked Turkey
Pork roast

Sauteed green beans and mushrooms -
Root garlic autumn mash -
cran-cherry sauce:
vegan creamed spinach:
Sweet potato casserole
Vegan stuffed mushrooms

Pecan pie
Pumpkin roll
Pumpkin mousse

With a ton of modifications, because this is the the lower carb lower sugar lower fat less dairy edition, because everyone has been having health issues this year. We're also doing Thanksgiving lunch instead of dinner, because my sister's MIL is coming and she lost her husband in March and she doesn't drive after dark, which is fine because neither should be my MIL. We will board game and watch football the rest of the day. Then one of our gangs of friends has a party scheduled Saturday night, a post Thanksgiving "we all need a drink" thing, and we'll likely go to the women's basketball game at the school I teach at that afternoon. Oh, and we're scheduled for visitation with my FIL and his wife on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, because the prison is actually doing holiday visitation this year, thank bob.

December is the end of the semester, and assuming I haven't shanked anyone by then, we'll do Friendsgiving with some more folks the second weekend in December. There's another potluck the next week (the pre-Christmas "I need a drink" edition). Things should be relativley quiet until Christmas Eve, which we'll do with my MIL and wife's grandmother (last year we tried to cram everyone into Christmas, and it just didn't work). Christmas Day is lunch with my dad's mother's side of the family and dinner with my dad's immediate family (which numbers 25 when everyone is in, but fortunately/unfortunately that doesn't happen so much anymore). The next day, we'll do Christmas with my dad and sisters and the best nephew in the world and our spouses.

Then the 27th we head out to Texas to spend the rest of Christmas week and New Year's with my wife's girlfriend, her husband, and the Best Teenager in the World. This is pretty much the highlight of our holiday season. :)

Spring semester starts on January 8th. We are blessed with having so much love in our lives and so many people we want to do holiday stuff with, but I'm not doing a damn thing the weekend before besides napping and watching football.
posted by joycehealy at 6:31 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is one of those years American Thanksgiving falls almost as early as it possibly can - only if the month began on a Thursday could it be any earlier, the 22nd. So it feels early because it is a little early since we didn't start the month with a full week or more.

I love these years because what it means is you get an entire extra weekend before Christmas. When Thasksgiving falls on the 28th or so, "Thanksgiving weekend" also becomes the first weekend of December, which crunches stuff up so you only get four weekends before Christmas. This is one of those years you get five. To me it allows Thanksgiving to breathe a little as its own holiday, rather than hurtling immediately into "holiday season," and also makes Christmastime more leisurely for those of us who celebrate.

Also, huge bonus, we also have one of those years where Christmas is a Monday, which means a full weekend before the holiday plus Monday off, same for New Years's. With any luck this'll add up to one of the most relaxing Christmas calendars ever.
posted by Miko at 7:41 AM on November 14, 2017 [11 favorites]

I'm looking forward to Quonsmas the most this year. I'm normally a huge Thanksgiving person, but having just moved to a new place for school, I don't have enough friends who will be around for a Friendsgiving. I got invited to someone else's Thanksgiving, but there's something about cooking my own thing that I'm really going to miss this year.

Other than that, I've squirreled out of going home for the holidays in one of the worse ways possible. I'm getting surgery on my wrist to fix a cartilage tear (finally after 6 months of pain!), and the earliest they could schedule me in for was on December 18th with a follow up on January 2nd... So my holidays/break will be spent recuperating at home and probably alone. Maybe I'll ask for something to occupy my time with (that doesn't require the use of my dominant hand!) for Quonsmas. I doubt I can even souse myself with alcoholic eggnog because I'll be on more medications of sorts that highly discourage drinking.
posted by astapasta24 at 8:30 AM on November 14, 2017

We opted out of family holidays a long time ago and normally just do something for us or host Friendsgiving, but the friends that usually come are probably going to visit family and then are moving away, so. Back to just us, probably.

I dislike turkey mostly, and all poultry white meat. Last year I made a Field Roast because vegans, and it was actually really good so I think I might do that again. We'll have proper sage cornbread dressing (and I'll make enough to freeze a pan for Christmas), instant mash, home-cooked black-eyed peas, at least half a dozen desserts and we'll watch movies and play video games and refuse to leave the house all weekend. It's possible our hot tub will be fixed by then.

Last year was so incredibly traumatic (not just *gestures around in general* but also a really awful work project and my husband having scary medical treatment) that I just want the holidays this year to feel less like a horror movie unfolding.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:49 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Were you soaking your feet in it??

Toe-ma-toe soup.
posted by pracowity at 9:29 AM on November 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh fuck. I completely missed the sign ups for Quonsmas this year too? Ok, this year might be going down as worst holidays ever.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:56 AM on November 14, 2017

Miko, retailers looooove years with an extra Saturday between Tday and Christmas. People get into spending mode after TDay and spend more.

I also just need to note that I love sweet potatoes and grew up in Ohio, where people put marshmallows in jello and other food and Thanks, Mom for not putting marshmallow into anything but a campfire. Savory sweet potatoes are so, so good. I think I will have to work on a bacon and sweet potato wrap. They're already sweet; they don't need additional sugar. Adding salt and mushrooms and other savories brings out the sweetness without making it cloying. Unless you make them into sweet potato pie, which is pie and dessert.

This is why I have to make a Tday meal at home. Everybody else will do it wrong.
posted by theora55 at 10:45 AM on November 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

hey astapasta24, I'll be your quonsmas bud?
posted by stinkfoot at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it involves food, wine, and naps, and may be handled in as extravagant or desultory manner as you choose. The day can start with a little cooking prep, a quick glance at the Macey's Day Parade, a cup of coffee and end with a nightcap falling asleep on the couch listening to some holiday jazz. perfect.

I hate Christmas. The glossy, commercialized cheer that infects everything like a disease, a life-long anxiety regarding the giving and getting of gifts that childhood poverty has internalized in me, the travel (often in unpleasant weather), the damned incessant scheduling the season seems to require. For me, Christmas is, above all, about money and has been my whole life. As a child I saw the stress the need to gift placed on my parents and as an adult I've felt it too keenly through too many lean years. If I could shut myself up, seeing no one, from Dec. 20 to emerge on the 1st day of the year, I would do it in a heartbeat.
posted by Chrischris at 1:01 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I, too, love Thanksgiving and hate Christmas. We're spending Thanksgiving with my partner's family, and they're all super excited that I'm coming again this year because my pies were such a hit last year, so that's nice. I make a pecan pie and a cranberry-apple pie with a streusel topping, and don't even talk to me about pumpkin pie, because it is a sad excuse for a dessert. I will miss playing touch football with my dad's side of the family, and will also miss oyster dressing, which I normally make but cannot bring this year because my partner's brother-in-law is deathly allergic to seafood.

Christmas is complicated. My partner's dad assumed we're coming there, and my mom already told my grandmother that I would be home for Christmas. Our families are ~750 miles away from each other, so there's no good compromise, and when you compound that with the fact that my grandmother doesn't know that my partner exists, because I'm not out to her yet/ever... Well. Complicated.

I will say that I like Christmas Day. My mom and I open presents and eat coffee cake and go see a movie and have Chinese food for dinner. It's cozy and low-stress.
posted by coppermoss at 5:26 PM on November 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

my cousins have 6 children under age 5, i would literally rather be devoured by fire ants than go to thanksgiving this year. i'm going to have to have a serious but nonfatal accident between now and wednesday, any suggestions appreciated.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:16 AM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

I've survived my kidney cancer surgery (back on Sept. 22nd) and am still recovering.
Having to use a cane to walk around due to weakness and occasional vertigo / balance issues.

Mom came down here for 3+ weeks to help take care of me after I was discharged from the hospital. So, it's only right that I hope I'll have the energy for the 8-hour drive up to her place from mine next week, and spend Thanksgiving with what's left of my family back in OK.

I expect to spend Christmas back here in Houston alone. I'm used to being the guy that works the days around Christmas so that other coworkers can take time off.

Maybe I can be rid of the cane by then.
posted by mrbill at 3:58 AM on November 15, 2017 [9 favorites]

Our families are ~750 miles away from each other

Hmm ... *googles* ... ha! 11,043.053! I win!!!

Uh ... at loneliness :-(
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:27 AM on November 15, 2017

I had hoped to get out of doing the Thanksgiving cooking this year, because I've done it for the last decade or so for 10-12 people and I'm just tired of putting in all that work... But Mr. logical forgot to get us an invite to his coworker's party, and the other people we know doing Friendsmas are, not to put too fine a point on it, pretty mediocre cooks. So I'll probably end up doing it anyway, just for a much smaller group than usual.

Maybe I will have more energy for it all in December.
posted by tautological at 7:42 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

i'm going to have to have a serious but nonfatal accident between now and wednesday, any suggestions appreciated.

personal preference but i really like "having" UTIs for emergency situations like this. they're common, nonthreatening, just about every woman's had one, and i've never had any fellow ladyfriend try to pressure me into coming to anything with one because they know you can't do anything but pee and cry a little bit.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:57 AM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Migraine works too. My sympathies on your struggle, a major bonus of divorce has been never having to spend another holiday with the feral children on that side.
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:15 PM on November 15, 2017

I am living dangerously by making dulce de leche in my crockpot with cans of sweetened condensed milk.

I don't know what to make with the two cans of evaporated milk I bought by mistake. More than one kind of canned milk? Who knew?
posted by jointhedance at 1:54 PM on November 15, 2017

Evaporated Milk makes my favorite kind of Mac-and-Cheese, just sayin'.
posted by PearlRose at 10:32 AM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

This cheese sauce. SO GOOD.
posted by joycehealy at 5:23 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

May evaporated milk be the key to making mac and cheese that doesn't suck and cheese sauce that isn't grainy.

A while back on Mefi there was discussion of a magic crystal powder that could turn any cheese into proper melting cheese. I never got around to ordering it from amazon and now I can't find that thread.

In the meantime, it turns out I have all ingredients for Indian Style Creamed Spinach and I'm going to bring it for Thanksgiving dinner. Take THAT bland stuffing!
posted by jointhedance at 2:32 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sodium Citrate is the magic cheese sauce powder.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:59 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

... maybe it was a fluke, so I bought two more cans this week.

Not a fluke. The top half of the newest can of Ocean Spray was entirely berry free. I also bought a can of Kroger brand, but haven't opened it yet.

I strongly suspect that Ocean Spray sets the industry standard, and as soon as they cut back on the cranberries, all the store brands did the same.

This is a particularly insidious instance of the grocery shrink ray.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2017

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