Archive for November, 2009

Photo by Artgeek3K at stock.xchng.

Oh, misfits, you should’ve KNOWN I’d be a freak for Christmas.  Really, now.

Have you ever noticed that you go into the holiday season with all these expectations?  That you just assume you’ll be able to knit Mom a bolero with ruffled feather edges?  That you’ll–CHYA! of course!–make an authentic figgy pudding?  That you’ll, oh definitely, watch every movie in your 30+ Christmas movie collection. hot cocoa and a The Boy or The Girl by your side, matching Cosby-esque holiday sweaters gleaming in the light of your glowing fireplace, your Colgate-white teeth glinting ever so brightly as you toss your head back to share a hearty laugh over something that incorrigible Donald Duck has done?  Oh, Donald, you and your hilarious hijinx!  Whenever will you learn?

Well, that’s me, and I don’t know what I’m thinking when I wrap myself into this mental giftbox of horrors.

I don’t even have a fireplace.

Nevertheless, the BMG always heads into fall with all these expectations, a mental checklist that grows by leaps and bounds once we pass Halloween, and which has inevitably swollen to fuck-all unmanageable proportions by the time Thanksgiving hits.  By Black Friday, I’m convinced that Christmas for this year is already shot and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

Uh, dramatic much?

That’s why this year I’m taking a different approach.  I’m pencilling in Christmastime on my schedule–like, for really reals.

Now those of you who know that I had a Thanksgiving clipboard may laugh and brand me a control freak (trying to suppress denial rising in my gut), but yes, YES, Bad Mama Genny IS going to make a holiday wish list. And on it, I’m putting all my essential experiences, all the things that will really, truly matter to me in making it feel like I’ve “had” Christmas.

One of those things I’ve always wanted to do and never actually made time for is the ever-elusive, all-encompassing, life-altering, MAGICALLY DELICIOUS….COOKIE EXCHANGE!

For the uninitiated, a cookie exchange basically means that you have a party where every attendee brings a designated number of cookie recipes, with a designated number of cookies of each variety (entirely dependent on how many attendees you have), along with copies of the recipes.  You lay all the cookies out on a table, hand out boxes, and everyone gets to pick up the cookies and recipes that they like.  So you come out of the day with a sugar rush, delicious new goodies to bring home, slammin’ recipes, and all the juicy sexual details you’re too polite to ask for when you’re not high on sugar and champagne.

And dudes, it’s also a super boss way to legitimize going overboard.  (“But, The Boy, it’s the rule!  If I don’t show up with 565 cookies, they’ll strip me down and pelt with gumdrops!”)

Actually, sign me up for that.

Now, I’m a newbie at the Cookie Exchange thing.  I’ve never hosted one before.  But the way I see it, there are a few essentials:

*Alcohol: I’m serving “Bitch.” Keepin’ it classy.

*Hot Cocoa: Yes, with marshmallows and peppermint sticks, I can’t believe you EVEN asked.

*Christmas music: Fa la la la la, la fucking la.  

*OFFICIAL treat boxes: Or you could just have everyone use the tupperware they brought their treats in.  But that’s just so…sensible.  And, you know…not official.

*Festive decor: We’ll be exchanging confections by the light of one of my Christmas trees.

Yes, I said “one of.”  Are you really surprised?

It’s the extra oomph every party needs, like that friend who drinks too much and finally agrees to dance, and then you realize why he never agrees to dance, or the loopy aunt who sells Native American-esque jewelry at the craft mall and tells everyone about her recent experiments with the occult and offers to channel dead uncles for all y’alls.  

Actually, it’s not at all like that.  But it is oomph, I can promise you that.

*Good People: Bottom line: you’re only going to enjoy yourself if you keep this engagement small-ish, low-key, and low-anxiety.  That means no frenemies allowed.  

The negative Nancy who’s always telling you that you’d be so cute if you could just clean up your language and hang out with the boys less?  Not invited.  

The desperate chick who hangs on every word your best misfit’s boyfriend says and thinks it’s funny to try to sit in his lap while said misfit is in the bathroom?  Not invited.  

The very, very sweet girl who is only very, very sweet until she starts to tell everyone they’ll be burning in hell for all eternity unless they take Jesus into their hearts?  NOT INVITED.

*A loose definition of the “right way”:  Don’t get on your friend for bringing vegan cookies.  Don’t berate anyone for decorating storebought goodies with icing and sprinkles.  And don’t ask if there’s high-fructose corn syrup in anything that’s been made.  

This is about fun.  It’s about the holidays.  It’s also about expanding your vision of what fun and the holidays mean.  Everyone’s got something to bring to the table, and your way isn’t the only right way.  

That being said, my way is the only right way.  

Kidding!  Take a deep breath and repeat after me: “I am blessed to have such unique and creative friends.  I am blessed to have such unique and creative friends…”

What are the essential components of a cookie exchange for you?  What are your fun ideas?  Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you in the past?  What would make it your ideal cookie exchange?  Let’s make this fun–there will be an awesome cookie-related giveaway for the best suggestion I receive before midnight, CST, on Sunday, December 19th!

That’s over two weeks to get your misfit juices flowing! Shortly after, I’ll post the winner, his/her suggestion, and the prize!

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Garlic Photo

Photo by Ian Britton at FreeFoto

12 cloves.  Yesterday, I risked twelve whole cloves of garlic, burying them in the neglected strip of marginal soil at the foot of our staircase.  Oh, I’m sure there are several legitimate protests running through your mind right now.

“But I’m wearing a winter coat!”

“Doesn’t she live in Chicago?”

“Can garlic grow through three feet of snow?”

“I’m too hungry/bored/sleepy/stabby to plant anything right now!”

All legitimate concerns, misfits.  But it’s possible.

As I was up late the other night scanning the Internet for dwarf apple tree porn, I came across a quick article about how planting garlic on the shortest day of the year is good luck.  Horticulturalists pretty much recommend going with shortly after your first frost.  I made neither, seeing as how I’m pretty sure my little scrap of earth will be under a considerable amount of snow by December 21st, and I was too late to plant it right after the first frost.

Meh–gardening is about managing chaos, not controlling nature, and rules were meant to be broken, right?

So you just plop the cloves, right side up, in their new little holes, four inches apart, 1 inch deep, cover ’em up, and be all, “See ya’ in the Spring, misfits!”  They hibernate all winter long and fly their teeny, tiny, little green freak flags after the ground thaws.

Freak flags: does your garlic have them?

A few months ago, I don’t know that I would’ve risked even one, shriveled, half-dead clove of garlic on our earth.  The Boy and I moved here at a tenuous time, not entirely sure how things would pan out for us in our new situation, not willing to put down any roots–literal or figurative–that we couldn’t take with us.

But you know what?  Nothing’s ever fixed, guaranteed, safe secure.  And life just isn’t the same without risk.  Because with risk comes hope.

The BMG can risk a little bit of now in hopes for a little more later.

What the BMG cannot do, is be fucking patient for once.

After I got home from a fall walk today I opened our gate and paused before my new garlic patch, looking for signs that something transformational had happened there.  The dirt still looked barren.  Perhaps a little darker from having been recently worked?  The leaves I’d piled there in a childish attempt to hide my expectations still lay on top, mostly undisturbed.  I thought about the generous bulbs I might pull from that spot a few seasons from now.  I thought about the twelve dried up cloves I might find if that earth fails to produce anything at all.  But in either case, that spot is going to be a gentle reminder that sometimes trust is rewarded with what we wanted, and sometimes it’s rewarded with a lesson.  But trust is always rewarded somehow, isn’t it?

At least, I think it makes us better to believe that it is.

Before I turned to go inside, I squinted my hardest at my little garlic plot, trying one more time to see the change.  And this time, I did.  It didn’t look fruitful.  It didn’t look productive, or green, or rich, or bountiful, or any of that.

But you know?  It did look kinda hopeful.

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