The holidays, maybe

Are we having fun or just buying and eating shit? (Does it matter?)

It’s disconcerting to wake up and realize that you are part of a national trend covered in the Wall Street Journal but I think I am going to buy my way out of this season and go in on decorations as a way to momentarily feel alive and perhaps trick myself into thinking I live in a winter wonderland instead of my house during week 80-g-4ty-q of pandemic.

I have always fantasized about turning my living room into a type of twinkly forest in the winter but didn’t want to spend the money on seasonal decor. Then, after 8 months saving money on things like summer camp, babysitters and Lyft rides, I saw these in a catalog that has a name like Spruce Manor:

Two of these by the fireplace would maybe make me happy. However my issue with Spruce Manor is that it seems to market a type of “CHRIST-(YEAH I SAID CHRIST! CHRIST!!)-MAS!!” for rich people whose homes have interior columns and plenty of space for their faux trees in their faux tree covers and huge padded ornament cases that provide a studio apartment for every bauble. This is what stops me from purchasing holiday-specific bedding. I love the idea but never mind the logistics of having bedding that only applies thematically to a month and a half a year along with the laundering and work putting them on and taking them off—where do you store all that extra bedding, Mrs. Rockefeller?

The catalog is also 100% Caucasian, from Santas to angels to models hanging up stockings pretending to enjoy the holiday. It’s quite a choice for 2020.

Hmm, I am starting to feel concerned about why I am on the Spruce Manor mailing list. I’ll deal with that later. But this is the year I am going to splurge on some big spindly indoor light-up trees.

I also found myself purchasing these other little trees (from Crate & Barrel.) I understand these will not cure my depression and I will just be mad at myself when it come time to packing these up and putting them away at the end of the season, but in the meantime how cute will these be??

I also got these for my kids’ rooms and my office. When I was a kid I loved it when a.) my mom would put Christmas decorations in my bedroom and b.) People’s cubicles were decorated for the holidays at my dad’s work.

What I hope for the holidays is to magically slow down and like it and not feel stir crazy. To find a way to stay in touch with my people without letting myself be sucked into political news. I want to sip Deb’s homemade Irish cream and graze on little snacks like the ones below, just enough to feel yummy and lazy but not so much that my fatness makes it hard to move around and I feel crabby (IE how I felt this week after post-election merriment dragged on.)

Witches weighed in with their favorite non-fancy snack combinations to get us through these upcoming weeks:

“Movie theater butter microwave popcorn with melting M&Ms. But you have to have the good buttery microwave popcorn. Also this is controversial but I sometimes use chocolate chips.”

“I love Buffalo chicken dip. It’s cream cheese, hot sauce, ranch, and so much cheese, with or without chicken.”

“Here's something I eat approximately quarterly: Crinkle-cut frozen fries, baked until they're done but not too done, topped with shredded orange cheese, and chili-pepper flakes. Far, far superior to ‘cheese’ fries with a gloppy ‘cheese’ sauce.”

“I make a sweet cream cheese dip (cc + mayo + sugar) and eat it with pretzels and blueberries.”

“Get Marconi giardiniera salsa--drain it. Mix it with soft cream cheese. Eat it with big Fritos (get the little ones if you want to be annoyed.)”

“Just Nutella and pretzels. That's it.”

“Here's a thing that someone has been bringing to my family reunion for about 5 years that I dream about sometimes.

  • 1 loaf Pepperidge Farm party (extra thin) bread

  • 1 stick of butter, softened

  • 1 cup grated parmesan

  • 1/4 c sesame seeds

  • 1 t granulated garlic

  • pinch cayenne pepper

Lay out the bread slice-by-slice on your workspace and let sit for an hour or more (while butter softens)

Mix butter, cheese etc together and schmear thickly onto stale bread, then cut bread diagonally into triangles

Bake at 300 for about 90 minutes (watch carefully) until crisp all the way through. Serve at room temp. This freezes beautifully.”

“I know there are a lot of different regional names for this, but we called them hanky pankies: 1 lb. browned ground beef, 1 lb. browned spicy sausage, 1 lb. Velveeta all mixed together and spread on cocktail rye, then put under the broiler.”

“The first time I went to New Orleans and ate at a place that sold a ‘debris’ sandwich - ie, the bottom of the gravy pot with the tiny pieces of meat but mostly gravy and onions on french bread? LIFE-CHANGING. It’s my favorite when there's gravy leftover but no meat: I toast bread, smear with mayo and dijon, gravy on top, then cheese and put it all under the broiler.”

“Just a brick of cream cheese with jalapeño jelly poured over it. Best on Triscuits.”

“I just finished a small tub of Trader Joe's 7 layer dip.”

Finally, back to doing festive things because what else are you going to do, we (why did I say we? *I*) are also doing Christmas cards. I still love getting snail mail and I know you have to send cards if you want to get them. Plus, a few years ago I realized I had kept copies of most of our old cards so I put them into an album and I didn’t want to take a year off. Comparing 2019’s photo, which was taken of me at my brother’s wedding, wearing Spanx and heels and professionally-applied makeup while my boys are in tiny matching suits, to this year’s is, is like the photo on the left vs the one on the right.

Yet we will stick with that tradition. If you would like a Christmas card from me, email me; I’ll put some of my mental-health-by-way-of-materialism money to adding up to 25 new folks to my list. I hope you send one back.



End credits

Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers. If you have any topics you’d like to suggest or have any general questions just shoot us an email. If you know someone who'd like this sort of thing in their inbox about once or twice a week, please spread the word. You can follow us via Instagram or Twitter. If you want to support this work and get some extra content and access to subscriber-only discussion threads, please become a paid subscriber, a mere $30 a year!

You can also buy a subscription for a friend if you like:

Give a gift subscription

Finally, giving a shout out to my friend/colleague Jennifer Fink, who writes the Building Boys newsletter and co-produces the “On Boys” podcast. “I don't have to tell you that a lot of boys (and their families) are struggling with remote learning. My podcast co-host Janet Allison and I are offering a Live ON BOYS Interactive session focused on Boys & Distance Learning Dec. 8.” Janet and Jen will discuss challenges like staying focused, staying organized, and caring whether they do the work. Live session + recording + attend one or both sessions=$10. Register:

One witchy thing