O my God, most Midwesterners can’t wait to rip this long, gloomy month off the calendar. But as I weigh on my scales and shudder at the swimsuit plague invading stores, OMG, thank You that it’s still March!
December 16, 2016
Then the Fudge Monster decided to double her Christmas fudge output. Having bought one bag in November, she bought me in December.
She hasn’t found the November bag yet.
Perhaps it languishes where she stowed four boxes of Christmas cards, her mother-in-law’s present, and a missing gallon of egg nog — plus all that extra money she thought she’d stashed.
December 24, 2016 – Christmas Eve
Sadly, the Fudge Monster delayed making fudge until Christmas Eve … after stores closed.
No double batch.
The Fudge Monster wept.
But did she let a little senility stop her?
She considered borrowing from a neighbor. But six cups of sugar? On Christmas Eve?
So the Monster used me — the December bag — plus sugar salvaged from various bowls and a Cool Whip container she took camping last summer. Finally, she located a bag with cement-like contents probably bought when a Bush was president.
As she chipped sugar, her husband questioned her wisdom.
Thankfully, the Fudge Monster, wielding wooden spoons like a kitchen samurai, chased him out.
She hacked chocolate and pecans like firewood. She measured and boiled. The Monster stirred and stirred, finally pouring my smooth mixture into a buttered pan. She filled another. And another. Whoa, unlimited chocolate power!
If I solidified.
The Fudge Monster stuck in a spoon. It sank deep into my thin syrup.
Sixty seconds later, she checked again.
I objected. Would she like someone poking to see if her core was solid?
The Monster called to Hubby: Did he think half our county would like chocolate sauce for Christmas?
From the safety of his locked truck, he answered, “Certainly, dear. Everyone needs a gallon or two.”
Later, she dared sample a corner.
Voilà! I am the best fudge she’d ever made!
Later that night, a gooey kitchen returned the Fudge Monster to reality. Even the toaster was glued to the counter.
With hair marshmallowed to her face, the Fudge Monster could have intimidated Bigfoot.
With 10 guests due within hours, she coat-hangered Hubby’s truck door and dragged him inside to help.
Together they whipped the kitchen into shape.
December 25, 2016 – Christmas Day
Their family arrived to celebrate and eat fudge.
Snarfing creamy, chocolaty chunks, the Monster was in such a magnanimous mood that, instead of hiding my extra pans under her bed, she sent fudge home with them.
And they say Christmas miracles don’t happen.
After Christmas, the Monster celebrated New Year’s Eve with fudge. New Year’s Day. Every single football game on TV. Her dryer’s completion of a perma-press cycle.
However, a January Judgment Day, when she finally mounted the bathroom scales exiled my remaining yumminess to the freezer. …
Until her dryer’s perma-press cycle buzzed once more.
What kind of Goodie Monster lives at your house every Christmas?
Not that those who celebrate December birthdays have it so great. Do children born in June receive gifts with tags that state “This is for D-Day and your birthday”?
Still, in December, the whole world puts on its festive best. You share your birthday month with Jesus, and that’s a cool thing.
January birthdays don’t generate similar enthusiasm, as the whole world diets. No matter how you decorate it, a birthday veggie tray with fat-free dip doesn’t attract the same crowds.
At Christmas, people mortgage their organs to be with kin. By January 2, however, even close relatives develop allergies to the cold – and each other. An important safety principle: the cosmos will crash if we see relatives more than once a year.
Even those willing to risk life and limb to attend January celebrations face gift challenges that would daunt Santa. As of December 25, Birthday Boy already owns a robot that makes his bed, does homework and gargles for him. He has stashed his excess Christmas cash in T-bills, since the stock market is down.
Mom and Dad could use a nice little check, which makes gift-giving easy if the birthday person is a grown-up. But many adults don’t feel like blowing out birthday candles in January. Their years have risen like heating bills. Nice little birthday check? They need gold bars to shrink January Visa bills.
I even sympathize with my brothers, born this month. I didn’t when we were children, however. Only weeks after Christmas, they received another gift, whereas I waited until March to collect birthday booty.
Two of our grandchildren celebrate January birthdays. My husband notes that they enjoy the old-fashioned games we give them more than electronic versions: when they lose, they can throw game pieces at their siblings.
But if January birthdays bug them as they grow older, we will point out that even January birthdays haven’t stopped Martin Luther King, Jr., Carl Sandburg, or the painter Cezanne. Or Benjamin Franklin, Mary Lou Retton or George Burns. Or Edith Wharton, Mozart or Jackie Robinson. No birthday veggie trays have kept them from leaving unique footprints in their worlds’ snowy paths.
God Himself decorates for January birthdays. Plus, He gives hills to sled, snow forts to build, and hot chocolate with gooey marshmallows to guzzle.
Best of all, He has made January the premium snuggle and huggle month for all ages. Hugs never show up on a Visa statement, and they leave love imprints no raging snowstorms can erase.
Actually, a January birthday is pretty special. Just like our grandkids.
Are you a lucky January birthday girl or boy?
“Don’t go out there,” advised my friend, whose apartment was located in the same complex. She knew that even on sunny days, I often arrived late at her place because I’d turned left instead of right.
Insulted, I blew her off. But as I trudged along, familiar landmarks disappeared. The dark gray-white sky changed places with the gray-white ground. My brain felt as fuzzy as my new Christmas hat. A faint stoplight finally guided me home.
I experience similar sensations every year after Christmas. Having plowed through a blizzard of holiday activities, I couldn’t find normal if I fell over it.
The dates of December 26 through 30 feel superfluous, like screws added to an “easy to assemble” Christmas toy because the sender had no idea what to do with them.
“Merry Christmas” doesn’t fit.
“Happy New Year” sounds premature.
Even the generic “Happy Holidays” doesn’t compute because many of us pretend to work between December 25 and January 1 (though nobody accomplishes anything).
Still, all these greetings sound better than the more accurate “Happy Demise of December.”
So, I propose we think positive about these “sort-of” holidays and establish some traditions.
Tradition One: Remember that Christmas music remains legal until January 2. I sing carols in store aisles, belting out “Do You Hear What I Hear?” without being hauled to a psychiatrist or audiologist for evaluation.
Tradition Two: Eat during this in-between time without guilt. Of course, some people claim to eat after January 1, but can rice grass and dried sweet potato rinds be classified as real food? This week, safely indulge in turkey and dressing sandwiches, Christmas cookies, fudge, and peppermint cheesecake with no reprisal from calorie/carb-conscious spouses or imprisonment by personal trainers.
Tradition Three: During the odd week after Christmas, enjoy cards that arrive late. These confirm we weren’t the only ones behind the entire holiday season.
Tradition Four: Consider this in-between week as prime bargain time. Save enormous amounts of money on a huge inventory of articles nobody wanted to buy in the first place.
Finally, let’s sit with our feet up to enjoy the Christmas tree while sipping a steaming cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. No longer do we fear the elves will get us if we’re not addressing cards, fulfilling Christmas lists or checking them twice. Granted, the Christmas tree – sans mountains of gifts – appears a bit naked. But during the frantic, manic and occasionally Titanic weeks before Christmas, every woman dreams of this moment.
And somewhere – after navigating that delightful, dizzy season – we’ll find normal again.
What’s your favorite “sort-of” holiday activity? How long before things return to normal at your house?
O my God, I left a whole pan of brownies intact all week. All. Week. Long. Has my self-discipline increased? Or am I growing desperate with every passing year and clinging pound? Probably both. But it’s Monday, and no weight lost. OMG, I could use maybe a pat on the back?