What are your today traditions? December 25, 2022 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Even for people who do not celebrate Christmas, December 25th can be a bit of an odd day because a lot of places are closed, there's a sameness to the social media shares, and the internet gets ever so slightly quieter. Whether you celebrate or not, what are some things that you traditionally do today? Or just what are you up to?
posted by jessamyn (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 8:58 AM (73 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I'm home warming my house up, very grateful for no frozen pipes after some serious chill last night. It's a new-to-me house so I don't know its tolerances yet. I've had some coffee and have been reading All the Living and the Dead which is really interesting. My usual traditions (Chinese food, movies, a walk around the neighborhood) got disrupted by COVID so I'm trying to put a good face on it. Gonna put on my elf outfit and have dinner with some local friends and maybe second dinner with some other local friends if I time it right. Wearing my Hanukkah hat, natch. I made matzoh ball soup last night while tinkering with the cover over my kitchen fan (a big hole in the wall that goes to the outside and is COLD) and got something working with duct tape and rubber bands. Happy holidays to those who are celebrating something.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:05 AM on December 25, 2022 [13 favorites]

I work. Someone has to be available today, and my colleagues are all super family focused WASP ladies (+ one lapsed catholic), and I’m an atheist Jew who doesn’t put much stock in biological family, so I pretty much always work or am on call for Christmas, Easter, thanksgiving, etc. Then I take a five day weekend to hang out with my friends for new year’s!
posted by obfuscation at 9:11 AM on December 25, 2022 [15 favorites]

For the first part of my career, I was the same as obfuscation, for the same reasons. I'd work so that others on my team could do what they wanted. Now, if my inlaws aren't in town, I volunteer with the domestic violence advocacy program I'm with. I'll be doing outreach later today.
posted by Gorgik at 9:19 AM on December 25, 2022 [6 favorites]

I'm an atheist and not much of a traditionalist (and for about a decade I didn't do Christmas at all) but my boyfriend is coming over later and we'll exchange gifts. I'm indifferent about it but it makes him happy, so sure.

I have a bread in the oven. I saw a couple different recipes for yeast-less vegan bread and tried to split the difference between them, modifying an old recipe for cherry-pecan bread. I'm slowly getting to the point where I can improvise slightly when baking, but there are no guarantees. We'll see how this one turned out.
posted by johnofjack at 9:51 AM on December 25, 2022 [4 favorites]

Two things I try and do every Christmas Day, or around that time.

First, feed some swans, a tradition I've taken from my mother. It's easy to do this year as I chose to stay in rural Worcestershire rather than hopping on a plane to escape England for the winter. And, walking into Worcester, crossing the main bridge, and heading by the River Severn it's pretty much impossible not to encounter swans. Many swans. Here's from a few days ago, and here's a few encountered this Christmas Day morning.

Second (if in England or the US) watch one really good TV program that has some kind of Nordic or Scandinavian angle. This has been easy in recent years as the BBC ran (oft repeatedly) some Norwegian Slow TV, of which the most well-known is the sleigh ride. They aren't showing much Slow TV recently but thankfully Gone Fishing, the Bob Mortimer / Paul Whitehouse fishing program, which I have never seen before (no interest in fishing), went to Norway for their Christmas special. That was seriously good, and not quite what I was expecting - rather a lot of it was a subtle meditation on mortality - and now I want to watch all of their previous programs (despite still not being into fishing).

This week coming there will be more swan feeding (I think there is some kind of 'blessing of the swans' ceremony on one day), walking, light research, purchase of discounted mince pies and possibly the first chocolate Easter Egg of the season, and more plotting of trips in 2023 - when it feels safer and warmer - to the USA (month-long Amtrak pass to visit some friends) and Norway.

Wishing all MeFites a peaceful holiday season, and a happy, health and fulfilling 2023.
posted by Wordshore at 9:56 AM on December 25, 2022 [15 favorites]

Whenever there was a new Star Trek movie at Christmas, I used to go with my dad on Christmas Day. I think I'll try to find one streaming tonight. Thanks for this question, jessamyn. I hope you are all having good days.
posted by eirias at 10:10 AM on December 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

The only decorations we have is a piece of string I hang all the cards we receive on, but due to the postal strike, we only got three cards this year, so I didn't bother with the string.

We buy a fancy panettone every year and have it for breakfast (this year had marron glacé in it and was delicious). Basically stopped doing gifts, but H got me a pair of Uniqlo fleecy sweat pants and I got her a pair of USB hand warmers, and these were genuinely just what we wanted (albeit a couple of weeks ago when things were more arctic).

Then chilling, eating confectionery and then have a beef roast for lunch. But I only just started cooking it an hour ago, so we'll have lunch for dinner. Actual lunch was more panettone.
posted by Grangousier at 10:16 AM on December 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

Sis is away with her family, so it's just me and Mom again (each in our own homes). Dad has been gone a while now, the old traditions just got sad, and we've never seemed to make any new ones.

It's a bit of a lonely day. FB feed full of happy families all together, and that's Not Me. Roll over and snooze some more.

Pre-Covid and now again, there's prepping for a post-Christmas road trip, so I'm puttering around with that.

Later I'll go to Mom's for dinner (never turkey, that was never our thing), and we'll go look at Christmas lights. Out to Niagara Falls, where there's always a big show. And we'll see it all from the warm and dry car, just passing slowly.

That bit of drive-by tourism in our own backyard is definitely a tradition, that's true.

I wish you all the best of the season. It can be tough.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:33 AM on December 25, 2022 [11 favorites]

Eating cookies from my neighbors, and drinking coffee. Waiting to go back over and join family, for the afternoon. I might ride out to the foothills today and take pictures in the fog. This time of year I uncoil the grip of the current time, and set my inner odometer to zero, going into January, so I can enjoy the silence of the new year, the empty frame of mind, the low light starting to rise. In January I will go to the sea. I have to promise the kid in me something...
posted by Oyéah at 10:35 AM on December 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

Waking up to Percy Faith's "Joy to the World" as high as the hi-fi->stereo->cassette player->CD player->iPod->computer->AI assistant can play it.
posted by QuakerMel at 10:45 AM on December 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

It’s my brother’s birthday! As kids we did whatever he wanted for the day, but since everything was closed and his friends were all busy it was usually his pick of movie and dinner, though most places were closed and he didn’t care for Chinese food. When we got older I think he mostly just gave up, though then he moved to Japan and was there for like 13 years, and it’s a romantic holiday there. So he went on a few dates and always wandered around enjoying the many light displays and restaurant specials. I would usually call our parents and wish them a happy [brother’s] birthday and chat for a while. This year he’s the one who lives near them though so I suspect he will be over at their place bugging them. I should call anyway!
posted by Mizu at 11:05 AM on December 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

Because Christmas Eve at my mother's house is such a free-for-all, we prefer our Christmas Day to be on the quiet side. Most years we go into Boston to go to a movie and get dinner in Chinatown, but the movie pickings this year are pretty damn slim. So, we just got back from lunch at a different Chinese place we love (for locals - Sichuan Gourmet next to the Burlington Mall), and will watch "Glass Onion" on Netflix tonight.
posted by briank at 11:46 AM on December 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

I find holidays super stressful, and am very excited to have them behind me as of around noon today. Missing Christmas dinner but I got through breakfast which was a personal accomplishment.

Maybe I’ll do better next year maybe not, trying to accept that the way I feel about holidays is OK.

Enjoying being home listening to music while my cat naps in the little sliver of sunlight left on the bed.
posted by one4themoment at 11:51 AM on December 25, 2022 [4 favorites]

we always do xmas eve at MIL's as we did yesterday (so.much.food)
usually we would visit FIL for xmas day but they are outta town so we have NO PLANS!!!
gonna sit around in pjs and eat leftovers and maybe do some art, or maybe just read a lot. and have some wine. should we watch Die Hard later? Idk...

merry to all!
posted by supermedusa at 11:59 AM on December 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

We have colds, but we opened our Christmas presents this morning, and ate turkey and all the trimmings for lunch. And then we napped.
posted by plonkee at 12:10 PM on December 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

I occasionally spend Christmas alone, and usually I'm fine with that. But this year my roommate is around too - and he's Going Through Some Stuff, so has been treating Christmas very much like any regular day. I'm still trying to Be Festive, but I'm also paranoid I'm bugging him and it's cramping my style. Not that he's complained, mind you; but I'm self-conscious enough about it that I think if this scenario happens again in the next couple years I will go somewhere for 2 days where I'm more comfortable letting My Christmas All Hang Out.

Not that I went all that nuts either. It's more about food anyway. (Like: I just pulled an elaborate treat out of the oven; I splurged on a little silicone cakelet mold that made eight little Christmas-tree shaped mini-cakes, and a couple months ago I also splurged on the cookbook Gateau, a goldmine of simple French baking recipes and instruction. One of the sections deals with mini-cakes like this - madeleines and such, but also financiers, a small butter-rich almond-and-flour mini cake common in France. This book had a few ways to jazz it up, including how to make chocolate ones- as well as take that recipe and customize it in a whole bunch of different ways, by adding a little instant espresso powder to make them mocha-flavored, adding chocolate chips, adding chopped cherries, etc. I mixed up a couple of those variations for a spiced-orange-chocolate flavor, and it turns out one batch of dough was exactly right for that silicone mold and I have just enjoyed two small spiced-chocolate-orange tree financiers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:17 PM on December 25, 2022 [12 favorites]

Update: Just had lunch/dinner. Smaller amount of higher-quality beef (Ginger Pig sirloin to be specific): glorious. When I wrote this comment we were watching the Ghosts Christmas Special approximately three minutes behind the rest of the nation.

(*But now, for some reason, we're watching the 2004 Hitchhiker's Guide movie, which kind of gets better every four years or so, which is how often I stumble across it and watch it again. I'm particularly enjoying Mos Def and the fact that all the classic lines are said completely wrong, which counted against the film the first time I saw it.)
posted by Grangousier at 12:19 PM on December 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

Going to grab Chinese food this evening. Maybe I'll run into you, jessamyn.
posted by terrapin at 12:23 PM on December 25, 2022 [4 favorites]

My adult life has been spent in a number of different places, so not many Christmas traditions have had an opportunity to get established, but one thing I hold onto since childhood is to try to stay up as long as possible reading a book I got as a gift. For the first time in gadzoinks I managed to finish a whole book on the night before Christmas (in Iceland and Finland Christmas Eve is the traditional gift giving day). It was a short book, more novella than novel, by a former professor of mine at the University of Iceland, and it was just as much about Polish poetry as it was about the plot or the characters. I really enjoyed it.
posted by Kattullus at 12:49 PM on December 25, 2022 [8 favorites]

I don't really have my own traditions. If I'm with family, mine or others, I'll do what they do without complaining. (Well, with little complaining.) I think the tradition of a partner's family that I found most interesting is a solstice celebration that incorporates many mythological traditions and has changed nearly every year. The year we did an Osiris-themed series of events that began on the solstice and ended on Christmas was intense, but fun.

This morning I spoke with one atheist who absolutely refuses to do anything to acknowledge the holiday and another who was about to put on a Santa outfit for her family. This year, flight cancellations mean I'm celebrating with phone calls and Chinese restaurant delivery. (Looks like the weather will allow a new years visit with a friend though.)
posted by eotvos at 1:12 PM on December 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

We did our socially distanced version of going to see a movie by watching Glass Onion on Netflix last night, which I can highly recommend. It's also still Hanukkah so we ate a huge pile of latkes. We have a tradition where everyone gets their own menorah and whoever is the first and the last to have all their candles go out each gets a prize, an extra Hanukkah cracker/popper this year. Then this morning we all got up and opened presents, starting with our stockings from Santa. We're still sure to effusively thank Santa and wonder how well he knows our individual preferences even though the youngest person here is 27.
posted by capricorn at 1:19 PM on December 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

I spend time watching the old Christmas favorites, Die Hard and Mothman Prophecies. Yippee-ki-yay, Indrid Cold!
posted by SPrintF at 3:23 PM on December 25, 2022 [4 favorites]

This is my second solo Christmas, and it's a very relaxed affair with me and the cats. I have a three-day weekend, which is unusual for my work schedule, and I'm alternating cooking, watching the MST3K marathon with JHarris et al, reading my book (the Fosse biography), napping and not much else. It's too cold to ride my bike (yeah, I could, but I just don't want to ride when it's below 28), and the roads up in the Catskills are iffy after the storm. I'd love to get a hike in, but it'll have to wait until next weekend.

There's also lots of cyclocross racing in Europe to watch, as it's the Kerstperiode, aka the flurry of races that occur between Christmas and New Year's, 10 in 16 days.

I've already watched my two primary Christmas movies, Die Hard and White Christmas.

Dinner tonight is pork chops and sauteed onions and broccoli raab. I smoked up the apartment this morning making blueberry pancakes. Last night was caponata.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:25 PM on December 25, 2022 [7 favorites]

I woke up to this glorious sunrise here in southern Colorado. That's not my picture but it really did look like that, no filter, I stood on my porch shivering slackjawed for a good ten minutes.

The rest of the day has been just as nice.
posted by mochapickle at 4:06 PM on December 25, 2022 [7 favorites]

After a very cool start to Summer here, proper Christmas weather returned yesterday with a high of 34C (93F). All Christmas plans went into the shredder with Covid running around so no family stuff at all, but hubby is getting over the spicy cough just fine (and I missed it somehow) so we just lazed around in the AC with occasional forays outside to the garden for tomatoes (which all ripened at once in the heat). So I made passata, and Christmas dinner was therefore a prawn pasta with lots of fresh basil and chilies, also from the garden. I then forced hubby to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, and he discovered a demijohn of strong mead that I'd made early last year so all was well.

Today is also warm so breakfast was a coffee and then a soak in the pool. Lunch will be whatever you can find in the fridge. Dinner will likely be the same. I may make some sort of dessert if I can be bothered. It's been wonderful and I'm so SO grateful. I don't plan on leaving the house until after New Years.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:27 PM on December 25, 2022 [6 favorites]

This isn't a tradition exactly but I'm pleased to report that lunch today consisted of mince tarts, ice cream, and some startlingly nice champagne while we opened our presents.

The turkey has probably been out of the oven"resting" for long enough. We should take out the roasted vegetables and stuffing. It's time to eat!
posted by tangerine at 5:17 PM on December 25, 2022 [4 favorites]

We did the proper 12 course ( Ukrainian catholic) meal with my extended family for the first time in 3 years yesterday. There has been a lot of illness and change in the last few years, and it was bittersweet to gather together again.

Today we attended a Christmas lunch with my partners extended family where everything that could go wrong, did, and 3 hours after lunch was supposed to have been served we gave up and ordered Chinese. (Frankly delicious, but a lot of angst to get to the outsourcing point)

We are now thankfully home, running a fire, have a snoring cat and are watching k-dramas. New years will be traveling to be with yet another branch of the family, and then we’re doing two more Ukrainian meals for Christmas and new years by the old calendar. Most people are done with family, we have 3 more weekends of it.

It’s an overreaction to Covid, and being split across borders the last few years, and a reaction to war and family being scattered. It’s a lot, but my partner and I are the healthy ones, we can travel and meet everyone and so we will. We don’t have our own traditions per se, but right now, by a fire with a fancy beer and a snoozy cat sounds pretty damn nice to repeat.
posted by larthegreat at 6:11 PM on December 25, 2022 [8 favorites]

The only Christmas tradition I have that has carried over from childhood is that the first thing everyone does is take the scratch tickets out of their stockings and scratch them all off. Nobody ever wins more than a buck or two.

I have been getting scratch tickets in my stocking since I was maybe 10 years old. We'd all grab a penny from the jar and scratch them all off as soon as we got them.

When I got married and my wife and I started doing our own Christmas together, she wasn't big on the whole stocking thing, having abandoned it by the time she was a teenager, but stockings were one of the few things I cared about (though at the time I would have abandoned Christmas all together for various reasons leftover from The Bad Years growing up but that didn't happen) and I would always put a few scratchers in her stocking. It took her a few years before she realized she needed to put some in my stocking.

Then when our own kid was about ten I suggested we give her some scratch tickets but Amy insisted that was a bad idea because she was only ten. I was aghast, until I realized she was correct, that scratch tickets are gambling and it was illegal to play the lottery in Massachusetts before you're 18.

But when my kid turned 18 you better believe I put some scratchers in her stocking.

This morning, we all dumped out our stockings and did our scratch tickets first thing. When my mom arrived we gave her her stocking, which had 20 scratch tickets in it because my mom is 90 and there's almost nothing that she actually needs anymore. You ever wait for a 90 year old to scratch off 20 tickets? It takes a LONG time.

Actually, there were 25 scratch tickets in her stocking. My daughter, with no guidance from me, bought her grandmother five tickets for her stocking. I've never been so proud.

The funny thing is I really dislike the whole concept of the lottery and gambling in general and I don't even really like scratch tickets that much. But you don't mess with tradition.
posted by bondcliff at 6:42 PM on December 25, 2022 [22 favorites]

Our family opens a new game on the 23rd, which we call Christmas Adam, since Adam was made before Eve—a silly idea I borrowed from a professor I had long ago. The game this year was Double Ditto, which was…okay. I think we’ll try it again soon and see if we like it better. On Christmas Eve, my kids (16, 13, 11) open the gifts they chose for each other. They are all very good, thoughtful gift givers and they loved their sibling gifts. Then, today, the rest of the gifts: ours to them, theirs to us. Nothing extravagant—we don’t go too big on Christmas—but my kids are always excited anyway. They are just good all around with the gift getting and receiving process, I guess. While the younger two were playing new video games, the 16yo and I watched The Phantom Carriage, a really outstanding example of the creativity of early 1920s film. We both loved it. She got a little teary at the end. I love that I have the kind of teen who will watch a 101-year-old movie with me, rave about it, and draw connections to other things she’s seen. It’s very like father, like daughter around here when it comes to cinema nerdery.

That’s about it. Fairly quiet. My wife’s not close to her family and I’ve been no-contact with my parents for quite a while now, so it’s just our little household. I envy people whose holidays are full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but that can’t be us. Still, what we have is good.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:53 PM on December 25, 2022 [8 favorites]

A thing my grandma always made for Christmas Eve is her green jello molded salad (made with cream cheese, mayo, pineapple & walnuts.) She passed in 2019, and that Christmas I tried my hand at making the salad from a picture of the bedraggled recipe card my aunt sent me. That first year it didn't turn out so good, but this year I tried again and it came out much better. Not quite the same as grandma's but close enough to remind me of her.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:23 PM on December 25, 2022 [4 favorites]

Our family tradition is to celebrate Christmas Eve and open the presents at midnight, which means Christmas day has always been SUPER-BORING for me. Nowhere to go. Everyone busy. Everything closed. Now I have a kid, so we play with the new toys.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:24 PM on December 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

I love hearing how others are enjoying quiet days as it also our usual holiday mode (just husband and me). We are on day 3 of Christmas weekend for us and only made it until noon yesterday before we opened all the presents. Had had a little wine and couldn't find any thing that trumped "we're grown-ups and we can open our presents any time we want cuz we're the boss of us!" in response to,"don't we need to wait until Xmas to open the Xmas presents?". The other part of the argument was the sooner we open the presents, the more time we had to play with any possible toys. (Haha just saw if only I had a penguin's post on Preview :)

We've also been playing a lot of bocce, à little croquet, and got in some tennis and a bike ride, and feeling thankful for being nowhere near a bomb cyclone or whatever weather madness is happening. And then coming inside for dinner and a little mariokart under some influence.

Merriest Quiet Christmas to all who celebrate!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:27 PM on December 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm in a weird place where I was raised agnostic/atheist but we did Christmas, to over the last few years I've become pagan/Wiccan and now solstice makes more sense to me, plus I can't do any gatherings because I'm immunocompromised. The previous few years my family shifted Christmas up to make travel easier for everyone. So I've appreciated getting rid of Christmas but it's also hard knowing my father is still very into it, but we're not really even doing any vestiges of it. And it's odd suddenly being in a place where I used to really celebrate this day and now... it doesn't really mean much. (Similar issues with Thanksgiving, which I stopped celebrating due to the whole genocide-theme thing.)

Today I had a slow morning of tea and crosswords and fog, and this afternoon my Wicca group met online and that was nice. I tried to make a nice dinner for myself but the recipe didn't really work. I'm discovering that I love hate-watching Christmas rom-com movies. I think I want to get stuff for Bloody Marys and raw oysters tomorrow.
posted by lapis at 8:17 PM on December 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

....So you know how I said that my roommate was cramping my style hanging around the house today?

Ignore that. Apparently - and possibly while I was typing that very sentence - he was heading out to go see STAR WARS at a local theater, and I didn't even notice he'd left. I didn't notice he was gone until I called downstairs to offer him some chocolate cake and he didn't answer.

In conclusion, I'm an idiot, thank you and good night.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 PM on December 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

I've never really gotten the hang of this holiday since I've had to make it for myself. It's been especially tough to do since moving to Australia; while there are plenty of things I have shed since my emigration 28 years ago, apparently a deep-seated belief that Christmas should be in the winter is one I have not been able to shake off. However I've also had a few back in the US which made me realise I can't just blame the season, it's something about not being a kid anymore.

This year I have been so exhausted by ~gestures at everything~ I've just been looking forward to having a bit of a rest. Went out to lunch with a friend on Christmas Eve; that has become something of a tradition for us and it was nice. The posh pub we went to was even doing Christmas dinner/dessert specials, so I got the roast pork and veg and she got the Christmas pudding. Yesterday I tried to sleep in and mostly didn't succeed. Read, played games on the tablet, eventually got up and hacked off some of the pre-cooked ham I got and made sandwiches out of it, settled down to watch Glass Onion which was perfect. Futzed around a bit more, eventually started a jigsaw puzzle that has snow in it while listening to The Christmas Revels and, when that ran out, the start of the BBC's adaptation of The Dark Is Rising which someone posted about on the blue and my sweetie noticed and told me about. It was low-key and pretty much exactly what I needed.

Boxing Day has been warmer and I turned the house into a cave to keep out the evil sun until it cooled down a bit. More reading, games, puzzle, but hearing from my family back in the US has made me feel melancholy again. It is hard when so many of the people who you love the most are on the other side of the world, and just because it was your choice to move to the other side of the world back when you were young and stupid doesn't make it easier. And doesn't change that you can have the home and the life you've built for yourself, but it doesn't include your family.

This year my sister-in-law (who is more like my sister than my actual sister) is also coping with the loss of her dad about a week ago. My mum is in the "Memory Unit" of the retirement community where she and my dad moved because her dementia/Alzheimer's is bad enough that he can't look after her anymore and he's spending 90% of his waking hours in her room because he just wants to be with her. And I feel like I am letting everyone down in addition to being unhappy myself. I can't even show up for them because other side of the world. Such a convenient excuse. It's hard not to look back on all my major life decisions and feel like I fucked up most of them. Well, except for not having kids - at least I got that right. Cats are much better.

Most wonderful time of the year, my ass.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:39 AM on December 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

We hosted my husband's family for Christmas this year, and after two years of small children, lockdowns, lack of sleep and the will/ability to tidy, it's amazingly tidy and clean. We will see how long it lasts.

Unfortunately, with the stress of getting everything ready I introduced his side of the family to one of my family of origin "family traditions" of someone participating in the "bottled emotions overflow", by flying off the handle at a misunderstanding. I've never felt more like my mother and I didn't like it.

Anyway, other than me, everyone was well behaved, even my raving parents-in-law. There was a moment where I thought I might need to interject but the speech was wrapped up without any antivax mentions.

It's hot. We're headed for the big smoke for my side of the family celebrations- (we do every other year on the day Christmas there but still travel on the off years.) Hopefully I've done the bottled emotions already and we can skip it this year.

(Thanks, metafilter- I really needed to get that off my chest.)

Positive traditions: Kris kringle/secret Santa where you have to guess which family member bought you a gift. This is the source of much banter in the lead up to Christmas.
posted by freethefeet at 2:59 AM on December 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

Husband and I cooked a whole lot of food (including a pumpkin pie! From scratch!), ate a whole lot of food, drank a whole lot of drinks (including champagne!), played Trivial Pursuit, and watched Lost City, because Sandra Bullock is my fave. And I don't even have a hangover today! In fact, kind of the opposite, since my back, which has been killing me the last week or two, is somehow 75% less painful this morning. It's a boxing day miracle! Today's plan: eat a whole lot of food we don't have to cook, drink a whole lot of drinks, play Trivial Pursuit and watch Glass Onion. It's a tough schedule, but somebody's gotta do it.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:12 AM on December 26, 2022 [7 favorites]

I haven't had coffee yet, so I will probably come across as scatterbrained. (Just consider these my morning pages. :-) ).

I think we actually just started a new tradition yesterday. While our fridge is completely full, we didn't have anything for a quick lunch. So, off we went to one of the two Chinese restaurants nearby. Both were closed. But the sushi joint? Open. And in walking distance. The sushi place is my partner's favorite place in town, so...

We also tried to go to the grocery store to get stuff for a quick lunch, but all three were closed. This is great! While I was inconvenienced, I am super happy some retail workers are at least guaranteed one day off each year. I had a boss once who loved to go shopping on Thanksgiving and Christmas just because they remembered never being able to. I am of the opposite opinion.

So, I guess that's tradition 2? Planning ahead so one has some time to contemplate. "Failed" this year, but we largely do it.

3. We decorate the tree with the kiddo and then after the kid goes to sleep we enjoy a glass of wine together and just our time together gazing at the tree and each other. We always do this before 12/25, Saturnalia, what have you. But, it is tied to that.

4. Santa still brings our 14 yo a present. Kiddo is grumpy about that, but always loves the present.

Warmest wishes to all.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:50 AM on December 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

I have a history — when I worked at newspapers — of being the one who could work Christmas because I had no local family, no religious beliefs, no children and really no reason not to. Plus, it felt like I was being kind to my coworkers, most of whom I liked quite a bit. It was always an easy day; more pay for working less, with no one breathing down your neck. The bosses were totally checked out. You'd have to REALLY screw up for anyone to notice.

I guess you could view it as me being a tool of the capitalist system for working on a holiday or as me helping out my coworkers and friends. Probably a little of both. It was definitely the day when the most people assumed I was Jewish haha.

When I worked at a union paper, I got some combination of a lot of extra money and/or time off. So I felt like I came out ahead. My boss made sure I did OK at the non-union paper too.

Yesterday we went to my partner's parents house an hour away. Neither of us is too into Christmas, but it matters to his parents. His mom has dementia but still absolutely knows it's Christmas. She still knows us and was so happy to see us. They inhabit a small world -- and my world has contracted a lot over the last few years -- so it felt really useful and kind to bring them some conversation and an audience for my father-in-law's stories.

Edit: Oh! And when we got home I made risotto and scallops with brown butter. It was good!
posted by fruitslinger at 6:26 AM on December 26, 2022 [4 favorites]

Christmas: My brother’s an addict but been mostly clean the last bit. But he slipped up and then went missing in shame on Christmas Eve so this holiday was about trying to make the best of the day while also being very worried. Thankfully he resurfaced to tell us he’s ok, but now homeless. We did all the usual things, but I’ll be honest, it feels bad to give each other gifts when someone you love is on the street.

Maybe the worse part is I saw it happening. I’d started collecting narcan. Hiding my wallet hoping he wouldn’t steal it this time. Quietly taking away gifts he’d trade for drugs like the wireless headphones and replacing them with gifts with less currency like his favorite nuts and socks.

I cooked to distract. A made up lentil and mushroom Wellington I wish I’d photographed. Roast salmon. Apple turnovers. I got to spend the day with my mom and wife. Younger me would have never thought that could happen (super religious mom) If my mom’s heart can soften and change, maybe my brother’s can. Maybe mine can too and I can be less angry at him. I know he’s doing his best. But I’m angry at the lies. I’m scared he’s in danger. I miss who he could have been. His gifts are still under the tree. I hope he comes by to get them soon.

Thanks for letting my write this. I needed it.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 6:57 AM on December 26, 2022 [31 favorites]

From 2008 to 2018, no matter where I was in the world, I would spend quite a few hours on Christmas Day and Boxing Day reading Yuletide fics. I still haven't found a satisfying substitute for that.

Yesterday, I had half a glass of wine, first alcohol since I was sick in October/November, immediate migraine and that was it for the day. Alcohol has never been a migraine trigger, so I'm planning on trying again this afternoon with a hot toddy at a local bar.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:04 AM on December 26, 2022

Goddamn, Pretty Good Talker. I'm so sorry. (I'm sure you know this, but even when you see it coming, it can be impossible to help.) Sympathy and best wishes to everyone involved.
posted by eotvos at 7:17 AM on December 26, 2022 [4 favorites]

Maybe I'll run into you, jessamyn.

Alas no, it was a no Chinese food year. Maybe I'll get some tonight. I wound up visiting with two sets of friends (had two invites which lined up timewise but said yes to the first one and "maybe" to the second one because I wanted to let the first one just go as long as it did). First one was a big midday meal--ham and mac and cheese and green beans and rolls--and then some dessert and coffee and football.

Then my sister called and said the boiler at my mom's house had gone out (we have been working on selling this house for FAR too long now and have a closing date in a few weeks) and she was heading over there so thank you to the emergency tech who got it back up and running. The house has been with the same oil company since before my folks bought the place in 1971 so they're pretty familiar to us. I used that event as a reason to head out from the first gathering which was going a little sideways because one of my friends decided to get really high and then got really aggravated by... everything. I get it, the holidays are a lot, but it was time for me to head out.

Went home to refill my pellet stove and check in with my sister (things were okay) and then drove to my other friends a few miles from here down a dirt road which was icy and spooky. Got there in time for dessert and they were in the living room around a giant wood stove having ChatGPT make up plays for them to read out loud. It was fun as hell and I apologize to not_on_display who has been trying to get me interested in ChatGPT stuff to no avail. I learned to play Anomia which is my new fave party game. I got sent home with a little present bag full of random stuff (a candle, some soap, a few pretty rocks, a lot of fun sized candies). By the time I got home it was pretty late for getting the boiler going and it was CHILLY. I got a few episodes of my fave schlock TV (Leverage Redemption) and settled in for the night. It wasmaybe the most Christmas-y December 25th I'd had in a while and I did not hate it.

Hugs Pretty Good Talker. Even when everyone's doing their best it can be hard as hell.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:41 AM on December 26, 2022 [7 favorites]

Been there, Pretty Good Talker. Hugs.

A pleasant day with family, plus went to visit a friend in the hospital. It is near certain she will not see Christmas again. She asked for communion, so the priest and I went to visit.

One of my great memories of her is us walking around Harvard Square together in December singing "The Snow Lay on the Ground" on the top of our lungs, with her improvising a descant. I played it in the bell tower at the church service on Christmas eve, and I told her how it reminded me of our singing. Oh, she said, I think I have enough strength to sing it now. So the three of us sang it, and she did a descant, possibly even the same one, and then she was too sleepy to talk anymore, and I will not forget this visit.
posted by Melismata at 9:45 AM on December 26, 2022 [26 favorites]

Melismata, that is wonderfully lovely.
posted by mochapickle at 9:50 AM on December 26, 2022 [4 favorites]

It looks like some episodes of Gone Fishing are on youtube, thank you Wordshore.
posted by JanetLand at 11:38 AM on December 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

We have a lot of Christmas traditions and we got to do all of them yesterday, including eating sticky buns (which I made), eating roast beef for lunch/dinner (which my spouse made), and making any children in the family (at this point that's just my daughter) sit at the top of the stairs and wait to come down and see what Santa brought (I was forced to do this at my parents' house into my thirties while my parents took photos and eventually you get pictures of my spouse and my brother and his wife and me all flicking off the camera). I miss my mom and brother (and my dad who has dementia so that's its own thing) but we spent Thanksgiving with my family in Rhode Island so Christmas is at our house with my spouse's parents and it was a really nice day (and the kraken got A LOT of presents).
posted by an octopus IRL at 4:31 PM on December 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

My neighbor brought me tamales today, oh so delicious! There were four big ones enough for my main meal today, and tomorrow, pork and chicken. I ate tamales and then slept from noon to four, I am not getting over this upper respiratory stuff, (not covid.) So I will not be tempted to shop, or go about except for this one thing. I have neighbors whom I don't know, but have engaged with briefly. They seem to be out of town, and their garage door keeps being open, the garage with the incredible, convertible, Carrera, in some indefinable light sea blue. Anyway I went by a couple of times on Christmas Day down the alley and shut the garage door back. They were still not home today. My fantasy is that their cat knows how to tap a garage door opener, hoping it will make them come in the house.
posted by Oyéah at 7:45 PM on December 26, 2022 [4 favorites]

My partner and I were pepper-sprayed in the face the afternoon of the 24th by an angry motorist who ... thought we were crossing the intersection too slowly? Once the blinding pain and nausea relented we've had two+ days of spectacularly dehabilitating cluster headaches.

It is our sincere Christmas wish that this does not mark the start of the beginning of a new holiday tradition.

Happiest of New Years to each and every MeFite!!
posted by riverlife at 7:48 PM on December 26, 2022 [7 favorites]

I need urgently to leave off a LOT of the old.

For very good reasons, there's a lot of Christmas and Nativity themed music and culture that I'm better off not listening to at all. I haven't been a Christian for decades, but I hung onto those familiar childhood and young adult cultural haunts for a long time.

Speaking of haunts, same with media and materials that involves spirits, "gods," supernatural evil, whatnot. I gotta stay away from it. (Psychologically I'm better off if I do that, anyway.)

Not coincidentally, I've reached a crossroads with regard to a particular behavior, not obviously connected to Christmas but certainly connected to habits of a lifetime. Leaving off that behavior, and a lot of the auld lang syne, is the key to deepening my involvement with my new faith.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:25 AM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

I never understood how Christmas or any high festival can mean emptied out urban areas until i lived in the west, so honestly back home, this time of the year is just a cultural/religious holiday for those who celebrate while shops are open anyway (and in our case, Christians are a minority, sure, but if there's an outcome from our affirmative action even Chinese New Year isn't a low period as decades before, so no time of the year is a lull, socially). So am just checking in to respond that maybe office workers are more likely to take time off now, but there's no sense this is a quiet period here. like any other time I take leave, I'm just spending it doing chores, going to the shops, maybe see friends. (ETA: and I'm taking leave simply because I have to use some days up or else they get 'burned' - I maxed out on leave days I can carry over to the new financial year)
posted by cendawanita at 4:37 AM on December 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm at sea about what to do for the xmas holidays. For my entire life xmas the huge holiday party my parents thew for friends and faculty colleagues the weekend after xmas were constants. Both my parents were only children and, because they were academics, lived far away from their more distant relatives. As a result the other traditional "family holidays" were either big parties with similarly isolated faculty families (Thanksgiving) or just not much of a big deal (Easter). Xmas was the only time it was important to my mother that our whole little family plus spouses and children gathered together. For us, it was really the only "family holiday."

But then one December 20 my father effectively just fell down and died. And a couple of years later it became clear that my mother's dementia had reached the point where it wasn't safe for her to live in the house alone in a city where none of her children resided. So for a few years we would continue the tradition: Mrs. slkinsey and I would fly out from NYC to my sister's place in San Antonio and my brother would drive over from Austin with his family. Then my brother's marriage split, he took a big promotion and moved to Pennsylvania, and my sister + husband moved first to Charleston and then a year later to Phoenix. My brother and I came down to Charleston for Xmas just before the pandemic, when we both were single-esque (my marriage was teetering on the brink and he wasn't comfortable bringing his girlfriend). But after that the pandemic, geographies and logistics have made it difficult to come together, and this year there wasn't even any talk about whether we would do it. Contributing to this is that my sister and Mrs. slkinsey don't do so well when they're cooped up together for several days. So... I don't know. It makes me sad to think that this thing that was a constant in my life for 50 years is probably going to go away.

Anyway... after two years in which the friends we had invited for xmas dinner had to cancel because of contracting covid, this year some old friends and their two kids joined us on xmas eve. I did a big standing rib roast (reverse sear FTW), creamed spinach, the 14-hour potatoes of TikTok fame, Caesar salad and a few other things. It was a really nice time, if somewhat bittersweet due to missing my family.
posted by slkinsey at 10:21 AM on December 27, 2022 [5 favorites]

I listen to Stevie Wonder singing Christmas songs, watch "It's a Wonderful Life" to remind myself that I've got things pretty good, try to get a particularly flavorful ham, and lately been trying to string up Christmas lights.

That's it! Having small goals is a good recipe for actually achieving them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I spent this Christmas (as I did last year too) with friends at a remote cottage in the countryside. None of us has much in the way of traditional family, so we make our own Christmas. We all like a mix of being outdoors and lazing in front of the log fire, and we are all vegan - so it all went really well. There were two dogs, three cats and three hens, we observed a tradition by putting holly and ivy on my friend's mother's grave, we had some long walks across the fields and we watched Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve.

I'm an atheist, but I like Christmas music, so last week I went with a friend to a concert by the Mozart Festival Orchestra and Chorus - Carols by Candlelight. I've been going to this particular pre-Christmas concert for about 15 years. The orchestra and conductor wear 18th century costume, and as well as music performed by the orchestra and chorus, there are carols for the audience to join in with too. For me it is the start of Christmas.
posted by essexjan at 12:43 PM on December 27, 2022 [7 favorites]

Made some sprouts and potatoes, had a few beers, took to the bed, made Boxing Day into an absolute write-off, as has recently become traditional. Today I had twiglets for dinner and video-chatted my small nephew for a bit. He's very into something called "Sea Beast". Tomorrow I'm going to see if the pharmacy has managed to procure the ADHD drugs supposedly hitherto delayed by postal strikeage (up the CWU, emphatically, in any case) and, assuming success, maybe check out the stack of accumulated work shit to do. Maybe not, though, which would also be fine.
posted by busted_crayons at 6:07 PM on December 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm an extraordinarily lapsed Catholic, as in full on atheist at this point. Christmas was a big deal when I was kid. My spouse is Jewish. Pre-pandemic, we'd spend Christmas eve and/or Christmas at my family's house or a friend's house depending on the particulars of the stupid interpersonal drama in any given year. That was all fine when it happened, but I've really come to appreciate spending Christmas eve and Christmas at home, with my spouse and kid, and cooking whatever we want and doing whatever we want, and just generally having a relaxed time.

This Christmas eve we made shrimp risotto, and on Christmas day we baked a loaf of bread and slow roasted then reversed seared a small leg of lamb while listening to a local DJ's Christmas marathon on a nearby community supported radio station. It was so much better than navigating the shoals of holiday interpersonal drama. Even at my friend's house on Christmas eve, where the drama didn't involve us, it was still palpable. Sometimes the peaceful part of the holidays comes from being with the ones that give you peace, even if it's just yourself.
posted by mollweide at 6:54 PM on December 27, 2022

The frigid onslaught cancelled our xmas day plans, which involves our kids and their families coming to our place. So, xmas day was just my wife camped-out on the couch crocheting and me camped-out with my iPad doing a deep dive into the rabbit hole of female Japanese metal bands on YouTube. OMG, Band-Maid!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 7:32 PM on December 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

Christmas has been either a bittersweet struggle or a real fuckin drag for several years now, which was hard on me as it's ...kind of the only thing I like all year, really. I had so many traditions and events and the joy was already being sucked out of all of 'em even before COVID dealt the holidays a two-year banhammer.

This year was shaping up to be similar -- I had taken several days off, but then the deep freeze put the kibosh on most of my Christmas merriment (a concert, caroling, a couple of parties, the downtown visit to public trees and lights and outdoor markets) and was threatening to trash everyone's travel plans. So it was looking to be a pretty sparse long weekend of frozen pizza and tv.

BUT. Somehow all the siblings managed to get themselves into town despite the storms, and Xmas was a real old-school family bash and a blast. Traditional foods were cooked. Elaborate baked goods were presented. We created new in-jokes and crowned Lines of the Night--a thing that used to be so common we had a pegboard of them in the family room, but which hasn't happened for years and years.

I legitimately never thought we'd swing one of those again, and we may never after this, but it was a sustaining kind of joy.

This weekend I am throwing my first NYE party ever, following in my mother's legendary NYE footsteps. This fête will not be legendary, but maybe it'll be like...baby legendary.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:20 AM on December 28, 2022 [9 favorites]

My DC close in suburb is OUT of heavy cream. I got the last container, way bigger than I needed, handed to me by the guys restocking dairy at the 4th store and 2nd Giant I went to today. We briefly schemed ways to scalp high fat dairy outside the store. I'd get little cups from the hot bar and sell pours to people really just needing 1/2 a cup at even MORE inflated prices than I was about to pay (OMG, maola non organic quart @$6.99).
I don't know what my neighbors were doing on Christmas (we're Jewish and all of us had the (I think) flu shot attenuated flu so we didn't do anything) but it clearly involved a shit load of heavy whipping cream.

PS, can I freeze heavy whipping cream? I bet it gets grainy.
posted by atomicstone at 12:10 PM on December 28, 2022

atomicstone, you might like to make ice cream with it, and then you can keep it for a while. affogato for days!
posted by mochapickle at 12:39 PM on December 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

My neighbors were robbed, the neighbor on the east side, actually jumped the fence, and chased the guy down the street. I kept shutting the garage door so things looked battened down. I talked to them, and she gave me jam, so delicious, from her apricot tree. They are sweet people and the grimy crime of opportunity, sucked.
posted by Oyéah at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2022

Make ice cream with it before it goes bad, you mean? Or can I freeze it and defrost and make ice cream at my leisure?
I have a KitchenAid attachment ice cream maker thing I haven't used in forever.
posted by atomicstone at 1:29 PM on December 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I suspect before it goes bad. There are a ton of ice cream recipes that use heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk. I wish I could recommend a specific one, but I haven't done it in years.

So then you have ice cream that'll keep. And melted ice cream is nice. The coffee thing, of course. A base for smoothies. Ina Garten likes to melt fancy ice cream as a shortcut for creme anglaise, which it pretty much is anyway, and serve it under a slice of dense, midnight-dark chocolate cake.

But I also like your idea of lingering in alleys, selling hand-rolled half-pints of the good stuff.
posted by mochapickle at 1:47 PM on December 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Make eggnog with that heavy cream! It's impossible to find really good eggnog in D.C.

And I'll buy some of yours!
posted by jgirl at 2:09 PM on December 28, 2022

You can totally freeze heavy cream. Freeze it in ice cube trays and just toss the cubes into whatever you're cooking.
posted by sevenless at 3:56 PM on December 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I mean you know things that call for cream. Or whatever, you be you.
posted by sevenless at 3:58 PM on December 28, 2022 [1 favorite]


I opted for delivered Chinese food. A lot of it. I'm just starting on the last bit, the hot & sour soup.

And I listened to John Fahey's American Primitive Christmas songs.
posted by not_on_display at 8:10 PM on December 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

I’m at loose ends that whole week following Xmas, since I don’t have family and don’t do the Xmas thing anymore. It’s kind of wasted time for me.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 9:36 AM on December 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Christmas Day = do as little as possible day.

This comes after a half decade of elder care that ended a couple of Christmases ago. Just doing nothing feels like the best gift I can give myself. Unfortunately this year I had to do some travelling because crazy weather wiped out all attempts to do it sooner. But I survived. Turns out, Christmas Day is actually a great day to travel, particularly in the evening. All the crazy striver-types have already achieved their goals, gotten "home for Christmas" (or wherever).

Also, a Christmas tradition. I start posting the Twelve Mixtapes of Christmas, which generally contain ZERO actual Christmas songs -- just stuff that has sounded right to my ears the past year.
posted by philip-random at 1:19 PM on December 29, 2022 [4 favorites]

Fun ways to use heavy cream:

1. Try making your own butter! It looks like cream whips down to butter in a 2-to-1 ratio (i.e, 2 cups of cream will give you 1 cup of butter, or thereabouts), and you can use a blender or a food processor, even. You can control whether it's salted or not, and go crazy with flavorings to make fancy seasoned butter or something.

2. You can also make your own ricotta. Usually ricotta uses milk, but you can add some cream to it to make it especially rich. And, bonus - if you're using added cream, you don't need to futz with a thermometer the way you do when you make it with just milk; just bring milk and cream just to a boil, turn off the heat, and add some lemon juice and salt, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then strain the whole thing through some cheesecloth. 4 cups of whole milk and 2 cups of cream will give you 2 cups of ricotta.

3. Chowders! Potato chowder, corn chowder, fish chowder, seafood chowder, just all the chowders. (I'm using up some cream that way tonight, I also have some bluefish filets that have been in my freezer a bit of a while and fish chowder is probably their best fate by now.)

4. Chocolate ganache. Chop up some chocolate and put it in a bowl, bring an equal amount of cream just to a simmer (i.e., if you're using 4 ounces of chocolate, then that's how much cream to use) and then pour the cream over the chocolate. Let that sit for about 3-4 minutes so the chocolate gets all melty and then stir until blended and smooth. Then you can use it right away as a sort of fondue dip or chocolate glaze, or you can let it cool until firm and then scoop it into little balls and make your own chocolate truffles. (Take those little balls and roll them in powdered sugar or powdered cocoa or sprinkles, add a flavoring extract so you have chocolate mint or chocolate orange truffles, etc.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 PM on December 29, 2022 [4 favorites]

One tried and true way to use up heavy cream is to make an icebox cake. For such a simple recipe using store bought chocolate wafer cookies, it is really tasty. This is the true classic version. There are fancier versions out there where you make your own cookies. Here's a more detailed version of the classic recipe made in a loaf pan. The trick to making it look good when sliced is to slice on the diagonal. Someone in the comments says: The trick to getting the slices to look ... good ... is to cut the cake from the corners - the first slices will be triangular, after that, alternate the corners you cut from making evenly sized rectangular slices. In our family, we cut all four corners to start.
posted by gudrun at 6:36 PM on December 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I’ve had a pretty good December. I got laid off on the 7th but have some severance and savings and unemployment so I’m doing OK for money.

I used to order from Doordash every day but haven’t done that in three weeks and am starting to remember how to combine stuff such that there are meals. My blood pressure is better.

My December has been completely chill, I wake up in the afternoon, I move to the couch. I get sleepy and go back to bed.

My fancy pants health insurance expires in 42 hours but I’ve already been approved for Medicaid.

posted by bendy at 5:35 AM on December 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

I completely missed that this thread was about Christmas! I spent Christmas day at dorey_oh‘s house with her and Greg_Ace. We played many many rounds of Quiddler.
posted by bendy at 5:52 AM on December 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

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