Fun & Games

Five Things I Learned This Week

The Russian birthday song is way prettier than the American one.

Bing Crosby was married twice and had seven children.

A former classmate of mine was recognized by Oprah for her book, Happy Like This.

An owl’s neck has 14 vertebrae (that’s twice as many as humans have).

The tradition of Great Britain’s Christmas Number One began in 1952.

Fun & Games

LadBaby’s Historic Christmas #1, Christmas Spirit, and the Power of Social Media

If you’re British (or you’ve seen Love, Actually) you know that it’s a British tradition to award the title of Christmas Number One to the season’s most popular new song.

This tradition dates back to 1952. It’s gone to the Beatles, the Spice Girls, Ed Sheeran and now, LadBaby.

Twice.

That’s never happened before. LadBaby has now been named Christmas Number One two years in a row and has officially made history.

But who on earth is LadBaby? Have you heard him on the radio? What kind of music does he play?

Continue reading “LadBaby’s Historic Christmas #1, Christmas Spirit, and the Power of Social Media”
Cooking & Eating

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

I love gingerbread. I love ginger snaps. I love ginger anything, really, including redheads.

I especially like them if they have a little oomph.

It was nearly a decade ago that I discovered my spicy gingerbread recipe, and I’ve made it every year since. It’s not for everyone; it has a kick, by which I mean it kicks you in the back of the throat. It lingers on the palate. It goes really well with ice cold milk or a glass of eggnog.

I wouldn’t waste this recipe on a gingerbread house. I would try this mix of spices in other ginger recipes–molasses cookies, maybe, or a classic gingerbread loaf.

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Friends & Family

The Santa Secret

I was in the second grade when I unmasked Santa. I’d had my suspicions for a while: the handwriting on the gift tags, the fact that Santa used the same wrapping paper as my parents did, and I’m sure I’d heard rumblings around the playground or maybe from my older brother. But whatever evidence I brought before them, my parents stood by Santa. Coincidence, they said. Santa’s helpers, they said. Go to bed, they said.

I spent that Christmas season snooping. I finally found my proof on Christmas day, not long after I received a beautiful Barbie dream house, pre-assembled under the tree. I was probably helping clean up wrapping paper, or perhaps making a last-ditch effort to make my point, but I found the box for the Barbie dream house in the garage, and my parents could pretend no longer.

I was not angry. I did not feel betrayed; I felt proud. Proud of myself for figuring it out. And I was grateful for my Barbie dream house, whoever gave it to me.

As I prepared to have my own children, I wondered whether I’d uphold the Santa myth. I didn’t want to lie to my children. Then again, I didn’t want to burden them with knowledge they couldn’t share with their classmates. I heard a lot of young parents considering the same conundrum. When they were babies, though, it was all academic.

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Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: Beginning with the End

Last night, I was watching A Christmas Story with my kids when bedtime hit. Right as I had to turn off the TV to start the bedtime routine, the narrator (adult Ralphie) uttered one of my favorite lines: “From then on, things were different between me and my mother.”

At first, I thought this would be a great opening line–for an exercise, perhaps, but not for an actual story. So I thought, perhaps I could use it as a last line–sort of like reverse engineering. I’ve heard of writers thinking this way (the one that comes to mind is Gilmore Girls and the six words Amy Sherman-Palladino swore would finish the series–six words she didn’t get to write until the follow-up episodes a few years ago) and while it might not be the very best way to work, it’s something I hadn’t tried.

Read my attempt below (there is sooo much more work to be done!) and share yours in the comments!

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Friends & Family

How Christmas Movies Made Me a Better Parent (All Year Long)

Have you ever noticed how people talk a lot about how children learn, but they don’t have the same conversations about adults?

Maybe learning seems more important when the mind is young and malleable. Maybe we tend to forget about our own minds and hearts when we take on the responsibility of someone else’s. Maybe we don’t realize how much we keep learning as adults or how important it is that we keep learning well.

Learning is a particular concern of mine, and not just for my children. I’m the type of person who could have happily become a professional student, and failing that, I’ve become my own teacher. I’m a student of music, literature, foreign language, art, crafts, and even business.

I’m also a student of humanity.

Continue reading “How Christmas Movies Made Me a Better Parent (All Year Long)”
Friends & Family

Christmas Time is Here…

…bringing on a full-on identity crisis. With the exception of a couple angsty holidays in my 20s, I’ve always loved Christmas. But I’ve always felt conflicted about loving Christmas, like, am I the sort of person who loves Christmas? I rally hard (although less hard now that I have kids) against a lot that Christmas-season brings to the table, things like: consumerism, out-decorating your neighbors, unabashed and aggressive displays of religion that I worry it makes others feel excluded, buying clothes to be worn only once or twice, and the uptick in depression and anxiety for so many people. You know, just light stuff. Continue reading “Christmas Time is Here…”