When I got home from school today it was a balmy 32 degrees so I decided that it was definitely a day to run outside. As I slipped and slided through the slushy snow under a hazy crescent moon I saw kids skating on a neighborhood ice rink and ran past a very familiar christmas tree twinkling in the window of a house near where I went to high school. I smelled wood-burning stoves, saw countless trees aglow with those big colored bulbs that always remind me of Charlie Brown and ran past my Grandma’s old house where I spent many second Christmases (the first one being celebrated in Iowa) eating puffy cheeseballs, drinking 7-up and reading my dad’s Donald Duck comic books. It’s easy to get excited about Christmas as a kid. As an adult, I think sometimes you have to force yourself into a little bit. It’s not that I don’t get excited to spend time with my family and friends, open presents and eat lots of delicious food- I definitely look forward to those things. It’s just that as a child there is something mystical about Christmas that I find to be missing now. But I’m focusing on the little things, like giant green, red and blue-colored bulbs glowing on snow-covered pine trees, to coax myself into the season. The following is a list (in no particular order) of things that are helping me get there. Here’s to bringing some of the magic back.
1. Just Coffee’s “Peace on Earth” coffee
I was thinking about giving up coffee for the week (after an extremely jittery Monday morning) until Dan came home with this package of Just Coffee from Willy St. Co-op.
2. My advent calendar
My mom has been sending me this one from UNICEF the last few years. It doesn’t have the cardboard-tasting chocolate in it, but I think I like it better this way. It’s also fun when Dan opens the day and says stuff like, “Oh no, there is a giant monkey stealing Christmas presents.”
3. Thinking about this scene from “Elf”
Anyone in the Madison area have a copy I could borrow? I don’t have cable and I am jones-ing to watch it.
4. Listening to Otis Redding’s “White Christmas”
Today happens to be the anniversary of the day that Otis’s plane crashed into foggy Lake Monona in 1967. It breaks my heart a little to think that he was only 26-years-old. This beer that I am drinking is for you, Otis.
5. My Snoopy calendar
6. Hunkering down at Mickey’s Tavern on a snowy evening for vegetarian Shepard’s Pie
The macaroni and cheese is pretty awesome too.
8. Watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” while eating my experimental whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies
I broke about 42 rules while making these cookies and loosely followed the recipe, which isn’t so acceptable when it comes to baking. They still tasted pretty good.
9. Watching this video
I have a soft spot for Coldplay. And Christmas lights.
10. Busting out my old mix tapes
In about 1994 my best friend Meagan and I made a mix tape entitled, “Bon Hiver,” after our favorite episode of “Northern Exposure.” We took our mix tapes very seriously. It has stood the test of time despite a couple of missteps (namely Eagle’s “Hotel California”). Everytime I hear “Ruby Tuesday,” Misguided Angel,” or “The Boxer” I feel nostalgic for winter time.
11. Getting locked out of my house and…
taking a trek through a winter wonderland to my aunt and uncle’s house for a key while Dan composed a song for Clovis Mann’s upcoming Gingerbread Spectacular event: “It’s gingerbread… it’s spectacular….”
12. Listening to The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Carolina Christmas”
It’s a pretty sweet album. It includes “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” a reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “My Christmas in Custody.”
The forecast calls for more snow and it’s time to open a new door on the calendar. Apparently this one features a plodding, giant teddy bear planning some sort of present attack. Stay tuned.