Megan: Last Thursday morning, I went to a local gourmet shop to pick up some cranberry-walnut bread for that day’s festive holiday meal (see: Thanksgiving, Turkey Day, Can’t Get Off The Couch, Football Fiesta, et al). We arrived about half an hour after the store had opened, and the proprietor told me the bread had just arrived:
“The truck got caught in Thanksgiving Day Parade traffic (it was coming from Manhattan, home to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). Not like it doesn’t happen every year and you can’t anticipate it!”
I laughed, ‘cause duh, annual events are entirely predictable (Except for Chinese New Year, that one always takes me by surprise).
Amanda: I don’t think I even notice Chinese New Year’s, though I wouldn’t mind going to a party like that if someone would invite me..
BTW, the truck people should have said the giant Hello Kitty balloon (my favorite, natch) fell on them and squashed the bread. That would make a better story.
M: Except—oh, damn, I forgot to even THINK about Christmas. Not like I didn’t know it was coming. I do love the season, but man, is it stressful. A constant ticking clock reminding you that it’s 23-22-21-20 days until Christmas, and are you ready? Have you taken advantage of the free shipping yet? How is your budget? What about your distant friends and the line at the post office?
A: Hey, I bought a lot of stuff on the big online sale Monday! I got 20% off Bobbi Brown lip balms (which I wear all the time), some sweaters from J. Crew. I haven’t used my $15 off coupon from Sephora yet. Oh, and I bought a great book called “Read My Heart: A Love Story in England’s Age of Revolution.” Come to think of it, though, none of these things are presents, except to me. And my budget is already in the hole. I better find some more bargains immediately!
M: This year, my husband and I are buying a BIG TICKET item for our nine year-old son (sometimes he eyedrops on the blog, so I’m not saying what it is). He and I generally get an assortment of clothing and books. Sometimes Scott likes to challenge himself by NOT getting me books, which is also sometimes my not-as-favorite gift exchange times. Hm.
Anyway, I’ve already gotten Scott an argyle sweater vest, a money clip with a typewriter key “F” on it, and a book on the science of food and cooking (he does not blog eyedrop). Not sure what else to get, since we’re also getting new windows for ourselves. Nothing says holiday like new windows. Sigh.
A: I know the feeling. I need new brakes on the car. Merry Christmas to me! I’d rather spend the money on nail polish and new books.
M: Ah, nail polish! For some reason, that seems like the ultimate luxury to me; probably because not only do you spend money on the polish itself, but you also have to find time where you don’t need your hands while the polish dries.
A: That is when it’s a good time to watch “Pride and Prejudice” for the 651st time and call it research. By the time the Netherfield ball rolls around, the nails are dry!
M: Oh, bliss. I use ironing the husband’s shirts as an excuse to watch MI-5 (Matthew MacFadyen with his blinky blue eyes, mm). Dunno if I could justify all the hours of P&P for my fingernails. Must see if I can.
A: Do a pedicure, too! Lots of time for that.
M: Amanda, who do you buy for?
A: I’ve managed to pare down my gift list to parents, brother, a few friends—oh, and the dogs. Yes, I buy the dogs gifts, but usually only sweaters and chew bones. My Poodle Abigail, aka the Scourge of Squirrels, is getting a great new toy called Hide a Squirrel. She will probably disembowel it in the first five minutes and want another toy.
M: Hide The Squirrel sounds really naughty, honestly. Maybe for that erotic zoologist story you’ve been planning?
A: LOL! I once had an idea for an erotic botanist, but erotic zoologist might make more sense…
Everyone else is getting books, and Starbucks cards. Maybe a DVD or two.
If anyone is looking to get me something, there was an eBay auction for a commemorative fan from the wedding of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. The opening bid was only $2600, a bargain!
But in reality I asked for books, and sent everyone my wishlist from Tartx. (I’m really liking the Madame de Pompadour pendant, if anyone just MUST get me a present, LOL)
M: What is your favorite holiday food? Your least favorite?
A: I don’t like pumpkin pie, and yet I do like pumpkin cheesecake. And anything made of chocolate is always welcome at my house. (that cranberry bread you bought on Thanksgiving sounds yummy, too)
M: My favorite holiday food are the homemade donuts my mother-in-law makes on Christmas Eve. I know I’ve waxed on them before, but really—think about it—homemade donuts?!? How can it get any better? I also like the Prosecco and pomegranate juice Scott gives me on Christmas Eve (probably so I won’t complain too much about spending another holiday with his family. All I can say is, he’s lucky I have an untraditional family).
M: What weird McCabe traditions does your family have (beyond the usual)?
A: Well, my father always makes his “famous” margaritas on Christmas Eve. They really are stupendous, but very strong! Somebody usually ends up doing something crazy (not to name names, but it’s usually my brother…)
A: What about the Framptons? And are there any trads we should start here at RR?
M: Heh. For a few years, we would drive around the neighborhood looking at crazy Christmas lights. I love excess when it comes to holiday decorating. Scott and I had a conflict of family when we first started dating, because I would wrap gifts in newspapers and get clever with the gift tags, whereas he is totally traditional wrapping paper/fancy bow/To and From. Once we sorted that out, we meshed okay. Which is to say, I eschewed my grubby ways and embraced traditionalism. I still pine for the rhinestone-encrusted puffer fish my mom put on our Christmas tree, though.
A: Okay, I would pay good money to find a rhinestone puffer fish. I love, love, love tacky holiday decorations! I’ve been wanting one of those snowglobe inflatables to go in my tiny front yard. One that looks like a fabulous holiday aquarium would be the BEST.
M: Gotta clarify: My mom went to the Boston Aquarium, and bought actual puffer fish, then spray-painted them gold and silver and stuck old rhinestones in their eyes.
And I am DYING for a vintage blow-mold Santa Claus to put on top of the little roof on top of the foyer.
M&A ask you: What is your favorite holiday food? Your least favorite? What are your idiosyncratic traditions?