‘Tis (Almost) the Season

I stopped by Paper Source last week to buy a birthday card and a few other trinkets for my sister, and while the rest of the world was still in Halloween mode, the store was already full of Christmas crafts and decorations. As I perused rolls of seasonal wrapping paper and paid for my sister’s gift, I noticed a familiar feeling creeping over me. It was only when I stepped out into the crisp fall air, full of the particular brand of happiness that comes of having found a great present for a loved one, that I realized what it was: holiday cheer.

That’s right, I’d fallen victim to “Christmas creep,” that dreaded beast that takes up residence in shop windows and store aisles earlier and earlier each year, trying to convince us that it’s never too soon to break out the Mariah Carey Christmas album. “I know you don’t put your decorations up until after Thanksgiving,” it whispers, “but surely it can’t hurt to buy them a little earlier this year. You know, so that you’re ready.”

In the past, I’ve always been an advocate of keeping each holiday in its own box, snapping at my sister when she tried to sing carols before Thanksgiving. Any earlier than that was simply too soon, and I would defend that belief with all my might.

But somehow this year is different. Maybe it’s that I’ve had a lot of fun with Christmas over the course of the past few years, hanging strings of glittering ornaments around my room and carefully curating holiday playlists. Maybe deep down I’ve always loved Christmas–after all, it has so much potential for the sort of shameless frivolity I love so much, all sparkles and cookies and twinkling lights. Whatever it is, I’m finding myself already excited for December to arrive.

My boyfriend does not share my enthusiasm, in part because he’s Jewish but mostly because he hates joy. “I can’t believe there are already Christmas things out,” he griped while we were out earlier this evening.

“I know,” I responded. “I’m so excited!”

But for his sake, and the sake of others who share his opinion, I’ll keep my enthusiasm to myself… for a few weeks more, at least.

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Setting Out My Shoes

Just before we went to sleep, my sister and I scurried to the mudroom, found our winter boots, and dusted the dirt off of them. We placed them at the window, overlooking our mess of a backyard, and then went upstairs to bed, impatient for what surprises the morning would bring. It was December 5th, 2005, and Szent Miklós was coming.

Mikulás and Krampusz in an 1865 illustration, via Wikimedia.

Szent Miklós—also known as Mikulás—is Hungary’s version of Saint Nicholas. Though the American “St. Nick” is simply one of Santa Claus’s pseudonyms, the saint persists as a unique figure in many European countries, delivering sweets and small gifts to well-behaved children on the eve of his feast day–in Hungary, by placing the goodies in their neatly-polished boots. He is accompanied by Krampusz (or Krampus, in other countries), a terrifying beast who leaves switches, sticks, or coal in the shoes of naughty children. Continue reading →

Kid Version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ Less Rapey, Still Weird

Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé released a video for their version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ this week. The music video is set in a hotel entirely staffed and occupied by children, and it’s… something.

I’ll say this for it: The date-rape overtones that usually haunt this song are definitely gone, thanks to some small lyrical changes. “Say, was that a wink?” takes the place of the infamous “Say, what’s in this drink?” and “I ought to to get home for dinner/So time for me to cast you aside” replaces “I ought to say no, no, no sir/At least I’m gonna say that I tried.” (The other references to drinking and cigarettes are also changed, with slightly less success, though it may just be that I don’t like the term “soda pop.”) Continue reading →