‘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.


A Brief Note on the New Year

My mom always says that what you’re doing at midnight on New Year’s is what you’ll be doing for the rest of the year. If that’s the case, then I’ll be spending 2015 working and hiding in coat closets.* Yes, I was at work on New Year’s Eve–not exactly the most auspicious start to the year, truth be told.

First impressions are important, but I suspect that in this case, 2015’s thoroughly meh first impression on me doesn’t necessarily mean anything. For the first time in several years, I don’t know where the next 365 days will take me. After 17 years, I finally find myself facing a year where I won’t be going to school. By January 1, 2016, I will almost certainly have a new job and a new apartment, possibly in a new city. All of those things, and many others, are up in the air, and only time will tell how they will fall. Continue reading →

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 MiklĂłs—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 →

Thankful Once Again

For safety, warmth, and full cupboards.

For a weird and loving family, and the technology to talk to them from the far side of the country.

For a roommate who laughs at my jokes and entertains me by yelling at Scandal from the other room.

For stuffing, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and maple cream pie.

For glitter nail polish.

For Georgetown, much as it may frustrate me sometimes, and all the opportunities it offers me.

For Washington, D.C., with all its options and wonders.

For all the other things, big and small, that I look at every day and don’t think to be thankful for.


Thanksgiving at Hogwarts

A friend of mine once commented that being at Georgetown over Thanksgiving break is a lot like being at Hogwarts over Christmas. Everyone disappears rather suddenly, leaving you to empty halls and the occasional snowflake. For better or worse, you have the place to yourself.

I haven’t gone home for Thanksgiving at any point in my college career. Even discounting the year I was in France, I’ve never been able to justify the day and a half of travel and the $400 it would take to fly back to Oregon, just so that I could spend three or four days with my family. It just has never made sense, especially so close to Christmas.

I’ve noticed that you get a certain reaction when you say you’re not going to be with family for Thanksgiving. A sort of pity, almost, an eyebrow furrow, and oftentimes an invitation to join the pitier for dinner. As if you were a lost kitten in need of shelter and some warm milk. Continue reading →

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

Idina Menzel and Michael BublĂ© 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 →

In Defense of November

November treeNovember doesn’t get a lot of love. A completely unscientific poll of Google results tells me that it gets ranked sixth, eighth, ninth, or last out of twelve, depending on who you ask. The only good thing everyone can agree on seems to be Thanksgiving, which isn’t until the very end of the month. You come off of the high of Halloween and suddenly the next 30 days are all downhill, or so the thinking goes.

It’s getting darker: Thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time, the sun suddenly sets at 5:00 when it was setting around dinnertime just a few days ago. It’s getting colder: The fall chill, which was so welcome in October, suddenly goes right through your jaunty cardigans and bites into your skin, forcing you to dig out a proper coat. Your only decorating options are leaves and gourds, which pale in comparison to last month’s webs and bats and the twinkly lights that will go up in December. If November was a color, it would be brown. November? Might as well rename it Nov-meh-mber. Continue reading →