Just a few of the things I like about this time of year….
#10 – Brach’s red and green taffy peppermints.
If they’re cold or if you get an old package, you’ll pull your teeth out trying to chew them. And it’s next to impossible to get the cellophane wrapper off. But they’re good.
#9 – BlueBell’s peppermint ice cream.
It’s the perfect Christmas treat, even if it’s cold. Love getting a big piece of red or green peppermint candy right in the middle of a bite of ice cream.
#8 – Starbuck’s Eggnog Latte
The only thing better than just plain eggnog is an eggnog latte from Starbuck’s.
#7 – Queen Anne’s chocolate-covered cherries
From the name you wouldn’t think you’d be able to find a box of these at your local CVS Pharmacy, but you can. And I love them.
#6 – My mother’s fruitcake
Now I know that a lot of you are disgusted by the thought of fruitcake. Perhaps that’s because you can’t figure out what’s in one. Maybe it’s because one could be lost in the attic for years and remain edible.
I still don’t know what’s in it, but I know what preserves it.
Back when my mom was still baking fruitcake every year, about a month before Christmas she and my dad would make their annual trip to the liquor store on the outskirts of town. Not wanting anyone to see her sitting there outside the liquor store, my mother would scrunch down in the car while she sent my dad in for a bottle of brandy.
The best one she ever made was the year they discovered apricot flavored brandy.
My mom would wrap the fruitcake in layers of cheesecloth, place it in a Christmas tin, and drench the thing in brandy. Soaked into the cake, weeks or years later, it was delicious.
And it could double as a warning flare.
#5 – Wrapping presents
Some of my favorite memories around Christmas involve wrapping presents in front of the fireplace and the Christmas tree in the living room while listening to my Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas album. It was always fun on Christmas morning when we discovered that I’d forgotten to put a nametag on somebody’s gift.
#4 – Riding around to look at Christmas lights
Love riding through neighborhoods to look at the light displays on people’s houses. My favorite – winding a thick band of red lights, then white, then more red and white, till it looks like a candy cane around a tree.
Meanwhile, my house looks like the Grinch lives there.
#3 – Watching A Christmas Story
So many favorite scenes, this movie is to Christmas what Young Frankenstein is to Halloween. Ralphie trying to get away from the weird kid in the aviator cap standing in line to see Santa. His little brother, Randy, hiding in the cabinet under the sink in the kitchen. Just the name, ‘Scott Farkus,’ and referring to any kid who hung out with him, the neighborhood bully, as his ‘toadies.’
But the waiters learning to sing “Deck the Halls” in English at the Chinese restaurant makes me laugh every time.
#2 – Hearing “We Need A Little Christmas”
It’s an obscure carol from the musical, Mame. I first learned it in fifth grade when our music teacher had us sing it for the Christmas PTA program. Every time I hear it, it makes me feel good, partly because it’s a peppy song, and partly because it reminds me of Miss Berry. Her face was always so expressive when she was directing us, mouthing every word, exaggerating every syllable to get us to enunciate. She was all business.
Until she beamed a huge smile, revealing her gold tooth, and you knew you’d done well.
#1 – Finally not caring whether I get any presents.
I never understood why my mother always responded with “peace and quiet and for everybody to get along” when we asked her what she wanted for Christmas. But I do now. That’s what I want, too.
More than anything.