Words….Witticisms…Whimsy…Whatever!

Posts tagged ‘Holidays’

Christmas Cards and Serious Stuff

It’s that time of year again when the mail is fun. Usually it’s junk and bills and solicitations for charitable donations (possibly with cute address labels). But for a few weeks as the year ends, holiday cards (and I’m going to say holiday instead of Christmas because some friends very deliberately send me Chanukah or non-Christmas-specific cards) bring cheer & sometimes glitter. I love seeing my friends’ kids get older, love seeing the cute pictures chosen to include, and it’s lovely to know someone was thinking about you, even if only for long enough to address an envelope. 🙂

Historically I have sent my fair share of cards. I like doing my part to spread joy and sparkle, and selfishly, I find you receive more cards in return if you send them out. Although I do try not to get hung up on things like, “Oh my god, I got a card from Mary Beth, but I didn’t sent one to Mary Beth, maybe now I should send one to Mary Beth!” It’s not about taking inventory.

This year, however, I’m not sending any. I ran out of time. I suppose technically I still have time but I have resigned myself that it’s not going to happen without a lot of stress and hand cramping, and I don’t really need that.

So consider this my Christmas card to you. If you’re reading this, that pretty much guarantees that I appreciate you!

I have just written and deleted about seven different versions of a sentence trying to articulate how fortunate I am to have so many friends who mean more and more to me as every year passes. Which is funny, because this segues nicely into the other thing I wanted to talk about, and I thought it was going to be a big jumbled mess, but now maybe it won’t be.

In addition to the usual pictures of cats and lists of 23 things you should do to be a more human human and pithy stati (make no mistake, I love Facebook, in spite of what that sounds like) my news feed is filled on a regular basis with people urging you to hug your loved ones and tell them that they are, in fact, loved. A recurring theme in our world seems to be not telling the people you love how much they mean to you until it’s too late. My family is a perfect example. We all love each other very much, but we don’t actually say the words very often.  So I was thinking I would like to write blog posts to each of my parents, sharing the things that are special about my relationships with them and saying the things I want to say while I still have the opportunity. I kicked the idea around a little but didn’t actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, to be more accurate).

And then, four weeks ago today, my dad called and said, “I just Googled symptoms of heart attack and I think I might be having one.” I thought he was kidding, because that’s how he is. I thought he was going to follow it up with a crack about a political article he’d read or some other silly line. He wasn’t kidding. And in the car* on the way to the hospital, he said something that sounded like, “If I don’t get a chance to say this later” and I told him to shut up. And then I spent two hours while he was in the cath lab sitting in the waiting room** kicking myself that my last words to my dad might be “shut up”.

Thankfully, those weren’t my last words and Dad is doing amazingly well. But I definitely have to write the blog posts now. It may take me a little while, because I’m super emotional about it still and I have to be in the right frame of mind to allow myself to get all weepy, but they’re coming.

And also, this is why I’ve been too busy to blog and haven’t had time to send Christmas cards and have just been generally discombobulated. For two weeks all that existed was Dad and work and sleep.  And now I’m catching up with life. My annual staycation is next week, and I could not be more ready.

Merry Christmas, friends. Happy Holidays. Thanks for reading, thanks for being a friend, thanks for being you.

________________________________________________________

Footnotes…

* Life Lesson #1: Call 911. Call 911. Call 911. Do not drive to the hospital yourself. It was a bonehead move and fortunately everything worked out ok for us, but it was a HUGE MISTAKE. If you ever find yourself in this situation, please learn from my mistake. An ambulance clears traffic. An ambulance can run red lights. An ambulance driver is not emotionally invested and his/her hands probably aren’t shaking while driving. An ambulance comes with a spare person to provide medical care in transit. CALL 911.

** Life Lesson #1 2: Have someone come sit with you. It’s not selfish or silly or an imposition. Have someone come sit with you. Call me; I will come sit with you. It’s nice to have company even if you don’t want to talk. And also, if none of your people come, the chaplain won’t leave and that is awkward and weird. I know this because I was stupid and didn’t have anyone come, but fortunately my uncle knew better and he came (and brought my grandma) and so did my friend Kristin. K also fed my dad’s dog and took my house keys and went home and fed my dog and brought my keys back to the hospital. She’s a rock star. And also, I need to give more people spare keys to my house.

(Life lesson #3….learn to count. Sheesh.)

A Farewell To Latkes

So, yeah, Happy Hanukah. 🙂

My family came over for brunch on Sunday for our annual Chanukah gathering. Noshing of food, exchanging of gifts, airing of grievances…..wait, scratch that last one, this isn’t Festivus.

Tangent: holy CRAP, there are a lot of websites for Festivus, including one where you can get your own Festivus pole. Are you freakin’ kidding me????

Anyway, back to Hanukkah! I offered to host, and I like to do brunch; it’s the meal I feel most comfortable making special occasiony. I can rock a couple of brunch dishes, yes I can.  And conveniently, traditional Chanuka latkes, a.k.a. potato pancakes, work nicely for brunch.potatoes

All latke recipes are essentially the same: shred some potatoes and onion, stir in some egg and flour, fry them in oil. Fried potato Chanukkah goodness. What’s not to love?

Hmm…..lemme make a list.

Let’s begin with my own stupidity. I always shred too many potatoes. Always.. Nobody could make or eat that many latkes. Seriously, it’s like the potatoes double in quantity in the process of grating.

One of the things I like about making brunch is I have a slew of recipes where you do all the prep the night before, stick it in the fridge overnight, pop it in the oven in the morning, and it’s fresh and awesome and delicious with little effort the morning of. Latkes do not afford this luxury. Theoretically you can make them in advance and reheat them, but there’s no way they’ll be crispy. (Please tell me if you have successfully accomplished this!) And you can’t do the prep in advance. Once you start shredding those taters, you’d better get to cooking or they’ll turn brown and/or gray and disgusting. Nobody wants gray food.

So it’s almost time for company to arrive, I’d prefer to be tending to final details and on the ready to greet people, but instead I’m in the kitchen getting sweaty and disheveled with a pan full of hot oil (I hate cooking with oil) and a ridiculously large bowl of latke guts. I put one test latke into the pan. It does not hold together. I add more flour to the bowl. I put another test latke into the pan. It’s holding together, but when it’s time to flip it, oil spatters my hand mid-flip and my reflexive jerking away causes the latke to fall into a clump in the pan.

Fuck. That.

I consider that all of my company has arrived, the caramel french toast in the oven is almost ready, and I have yet to make a successful latke.

I look at the bowl of shredded potato. The bowl of shredded potato looks at me.

I dump the entire bowl into the pan to prepare the not-yet-as-widely-celebrated Hanuka hash browns. Next time I’ll try to get them a little crispier. What I will not do next time is bother trying to make latkes.

And I haven’t even mentioned one of the worst parts yet, not directly anyway. Fried. In oil. My house reeks. Days later, my house reeks. It’s almost as bad as cooking bacon. (Bacon, not so much a traditional Channukah food.) And to exacerbate the situation, I don’t have an exhaust fan in my kitchen.

Hence, I believe I am done with my latke adventures. Food should not stress you out, in my opinion. And I’m pretty sure my family can successfully and joyfully celebrate Chanukka without them.

(I confess, I might just be looking for opportunities to work Hanukka into sentences.)

I have come to accept that there are certain foods that I’m not going to master, and that’s ok. Even if they’re really basic things like latkes or cutout sugar cookies (shut up, cookie cutters are tricky). Maybe someday I’ll try again, who knows. But life is too short to get bent out of shape over a potato.

Happy Hannuka! I mean Hannukkah! I mean Chanuqa! (Ok, not that last one.)

Ruby Dogwonkafonka wishes you a very Happy Chanukah!

Ruby Dogwonkafonka wishes you a very Happy Chanukah!

(I was going to look for some fun pic of the Muppets or something wishing a Happy Hanukah and then I realized I already have something much more fun, courtesy of my friend Mark Lahey from last year’s Great Photoshop Smackdown. It’s time to do that again!)