Friday, December 09, 2005

ETC: The Whoville Guide to the Holidays

If you're looking to pick up some Penguin books or schwag ("Future reader" bib, anyone?), either as holiday gifts for others or as post-holiday survival incentives for yourself, apparently the publisher is offering its Friends and Family discount to the general public through till January 2, 2006.

Visit the Penguin Group to order. When checking out, enter the promotional code "friend3" to receive 15% off your total. (I'm not sure if this offer extends outside the U.S. Does anyone know?)

Thanks to the anonymous poster who brought this to my attention!

I kind of feel like I have to mention that, long posts about holiday shopping aside, I'm really not the grabby shopaholic I sometimes make myself sound like. Don't get me wrong: I love nice things, but I can usually content myself with window shopping or looking at catalogues or pictures on the internet.

I'm trying to become a minimalist, but
Rusty doesn't feel comfortable unless there are piles of crap everywhere, so we compromise in that he lets me busy myself by making his piles of crap look tidy and presentable. I do have a penchant for buying shelves, baskets, and hooks for the storage and presentation of said piles of crap. After books, this is probably my greatest shopping weakness. (Ah, if only the Container Store would come to Canada.)

Where Rusty and I do agree is that, for us, the holidays are not about gifts. Oh, we love to give gifts, yes. We're not Grinchy that way. We have a long list of family members and other loved ones for whom we love to pick out things that we hope they adore. It's just a way of saying, "Hey, we took the time to think of just you for a bit, because we think you're pretty awesome." But we're not big on giving each other piles of gifts. It's just not how we roll.

We tend to view things like books and music and clothes as necessities, so we get those for ourselves all year round. So they're out as gifts. And what's left after you've ruled out books and music and clothes? Not much. At least not for us. We are a simple people.

For us, the holidays are about the tree, the food, and the people. Each year, we pick out the biggest tree that will fit in our house, and we mack it out with our rather impressive collection of ornaments. We stuff the fridge with so much food you'd think there's no way we could get through it all. (We do.) There's candy and chocolate spilling from every cupboard. We book off the week between Christmas and New Year's, and we announce to all and sundry that we're having the longest open-house drop-in party ever. Rusty makes his famous mulled cider. I make real hot chocolate... and oh, look! There's the Bailey's Irish Cream! Don't mind if I do.

Really, we're a lot like the
Whos down in Whoville. And if you don't think those little buggers were drunk most of the time, you haven't paid enough attention to that cartoon.

Rusty cooks up a Christmas feast the likes of which you've rarely seen, with the centrepiece being a turkey of cartoonlike proportions. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, brussels sprouts (I know, but it's a tradition), biscuits... Rusty brings it all together with masterfully precise timing. I make the cranberry sauce.

For days after Christmas, the leftovers are slowly consumed in the form of turkey sandwiches, Rusty's magnificent turkey soup, and the piece de resistence, a decadent casserole Rusty calls "Christmas in a Pan".

Surprisingly often, it snows here in Vancouver during Christmas week. Fuelled by turkey sandwiches and booze-infused chocolate drinks, we go on middle-of-the-night walks with Dobbs. He loves the snow, even though the unusual quality of his coat causes snow to cling to his leg hair in increasingly larger snowballs until it looks like someone has glue-gunned dozens of white pompoms to his legs. We run into other late-night snowy-walk-lovers and we always stop and chat. (Vancouverites, a naturally gregarious lot, get even more gregarious any time the weather surprises us by doing something other than rain.) Passersby admire Dobbs's pompoms.

These are the traditions we want to share with young
Master Sam. So this year he'll be hanging up his stocking on the mantle alongside ours and waiting to see what little treats Mister Claus brings him. And he'll be getting lovely hardcover editions of East of Eden and To Kill a Mockingbird -- the novels that contain his namesakes -- inscribed with much love from his mom and dad on his first Christmas. And that's all he'll be getting. Other than our absolute fawning love and adoration. And really, that's no more than he deserves.

This is what revives us when we're feeling tired and sodden, what restores our souls when it's been grey and drizzling outside for 23 straight days, what keeps us chugging along somewhat happily and sanely when the daylight disappears at 3:30 pm. My wish for everyone is that, no matter what holiday they celebrate, they find a formula that does the same for them.

11 comments:

Essy said...

Aw! Lookit the tree!

And don't tell anybody, but I've always loved brussels sprouts, even as a kid. Sadly any not-a-picky-eater credentials I gained from that were blown away by my unilateral decision at the age of nine or ten to become a strict vegetarian and certain incidents that may or may not have involved Weetabix. :)

Jagosaurus said...

I love Brussels sprouts too!

I also love that you focus on finding gifts that the recipients will adore. I know that sounds rather dumb to comment on but I think people sometimes (often) buy a thing for someone and hope they'll like it or be satisfied that enough money was spent. Last time I checked, it isn't about any of that; it is about the pleasure of giving and being given gifts that actually make all of the parties involved beam with genuine delight in the knowledge that they are loved.

(Sorry. Got a bit sappy there.)

Anne-Marie said...

The food, oh the food! Your Christmas sounds a lot like ours! We spend an insane amount of money during this time on a HUGE grocery list filled with every type of alcohol, chocolate, peanuts, candy and a couple of oranges thrown in for good measure. It's our favorite part of the season, really. Do you know about IKEA's Christmas trees? Awesome perfect real trees for $15 PLUS they give you a $15 gift certificate to use in the New Year - you can't go wrong.

With Sam's first xmas looming ahead, we're looking forward to hanging out as a little family (aside note: my parents offered to fly us to Ontario for xmas but I turned them down. ouch. had to put my foot down for my family, no?). Sam's presents will be the boxes and boxes of toys my mom sends (ridiculous, really) - we've given him some wrapping paper and bows. Most likely we'll head to the beach for a walk on Christmas Day, then maybe stop in somewhere for a latte. Man, I love Vancouver Christmases...

Tamara said...

I love that tradition. Sounds like something I would do, especiallly since I feel the same way about books and clothes being gifts I give myself and my friends all year round.

drunken monkey said...

Now I'm hungry.

White Trasherati said...

Jagosaurus gives awesome, thoughtful gifts that make you weep from the love. I'm just sayin'.
And Doppelganger - I could totally hang with you at Christmas. We do our brussel sprouts either roasted or (even better) in a cast iron skillet on the grill. White Trash? Yes. Delicious? You betcha.
Best wishes to you and yours this holiday, and thank you for a year full of great blogging.

Angie said...

Would Rusty consent to posting the recipe for his mulled cider? Cider is my favorite beverage (alcoholic and non) and I'd love to have a good recipe.

Happy Chrismahanukwanzasolstika!

Annie said...

For that matter, would Rusty consent to posting the recipe for Christmas in a Pan?!?

Em said...

I love brussel sprouts! They're like little personal cabbages!

landismom said...

This is a really lovely post. I especially like the image of the three of you strolling through the snowy winter night. My dh and I don't really do much gift-giving to each other, either (although we usually DO books).

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