This time of year, many of us will make a pilgrimage to see our families. Halls will be decked, candles will be lit, and ancient stories will be told. Hopefully everything for you will be hugs, warmth, light, and reconnection with the people you love. But if you are dreading dealing with that one jerk relative or bracing yourself for an onslaught of intrusive questions and and awkward topics, here’s a guide to keeping your cool and choosing your battles when everyone around you is making it weird.
"Bland, horrible, almost always dry: turkey is an awful choice for a main course." Here's my tip for your Thanksgiving turkey prep: throw it in the garbage, by Dave Bry (SLTheGuardian)
"When the monsters of your childhood become faded old people with the fight gone out of them, what do you do? How do you find a way to relate? Do you forgive and try to find a way to interact with who they are now or do you hold onto the tight little ball of yourself you've been protecting all this time?" How do I tell my dysfunctional folks I'm not spending the holidays with them this year? [more inside]
First, Kill the Witches. Then, Celebrate Them. by Stacy Schiff [The New York Times]
Among the oldest settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and for years among the wealthiest cities in America, Salem had many claims to fame. It preferred not to count the witchcraft delusion among them; no one cared to record even where the town had hanged 19 innocents. It addressed the unpleasantness the New England way: silently. When George Washington passed through Salem in October 1789, he witnessed neither any trace of a witch panic nor of Halloween. Sometimes it seems as if the trauma of an event can be measured by how long it takes us to commemorate it, and by how thoroughly we mangle it in the process.
When wishes are out of reach, simulation is taking over our leisure time and our holidays. Imaginary worlds are created, often under massive technological exertion, in order to offer us experience as reproducible merchandise. Although the quality of these adventures on demand sometimes proves to be rather dubious, the boom does shed light on one thing: the yearnings and dreams underlying people’s daily lives. [more inside]
It's St. Paddy's Day, Not 'St. Patty's Day' (Gawker). Also, everything you know about St. Patrick's Day is wrong (HuffPo).
What makes for a merry Christmas? According to a study [PDF] published in 2002 in The Journal of Happiness Studies, having positive experiences with your family and buying environmentally conscious gifts helps - as does being older and male. [more inside]
Interactive-fiction-game makers Simogo have coded up a free, five-minute long story as a a gift to fans: The Sensational December Machine. (Download required, but worth it.)
Here are cool Jewish acapella songs about Hanukkah: Chanukah (Shake it Off) and All About That Neis [more inside]
Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of the slipperiest holidays in the American tradition. Costumed masquerading and trick-or-treating used to happen on Thanksgiving, while Halloween was mostly devoted to vandalism. As Americans did they best to stamp out the vandalism, they also cleaned up the unruly traditions of Turkey Day, banishing the Thanksgiving Ragamuffins to October. [more inside]
Montgomery County, Maryland's Board of Education is coming under backlash after it voted 7 to 1 on Tuesday night to eliminate references to all religious holidays on the published calendar for 2015-2016. The decision followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha. [more inside]
Daylight Firework Compilation from around the world, a very different display. If rain or hurricanes are putting a damper on your Independence Day pyrotechnics, check out Sergio Paolelli, Festival San Trifone - Adelfia 2013 for a spectacular 25 minute daylight show with a breathtaking finale. Also from Adelfia 2013, a grounds-eye view of the wild Batteria Sanseverese.
As the Christmas season winds down, but before New Year plunges a stake into its Dracula Corpse to end it, enjoy Matt Fraction, Maggie Serota and the War Rocket Ajax crew challening each other to create the worst Christmas mixtape. Not interested in audio format banter and such? There is a Youtube Playlist. WARNING: Mostly offensive for aesthetic reasons but there are some other terribles in there as well.
Nearly 200 years after "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was written, the authorship is still in dispute. In the years since, there have been quite a few parodies and variants of the poem written, recorded and performed, including at least two different versions of a Cajun Night Before Christmas (a recording of the version by Te-Jules, and Trosclair's version[Google books preview], read by Larry Ray, recorded from WLOX). Snopes tracked down the history of The Soldier's Night Before Christmas, Fifties Web collected 21 tame versions (with auto-playing music), and Dirty Xmas has a number of "adult" versions. Yuks 'R' Us has a large collection, including some dated computer-related stories. Speaking of dated, you can view a vintage '98 "enhanced" version of the original poem plus more variations from Purple Lion (a member of the Merry Christmas Webring from 1998). But for the ultimate collection of variants and parodies, you might recall this thread from 2002. The link is dead, but Archive.org caught the site around that time, with 581 versions. That was over a decade ago, and now Alechemist Matt is up to 849 versions, parodies and variants of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
About the only place this book hasn't been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that's about to change. Because I'm going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that's how long it takes for a batch of my mother's Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I'm going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more. And I think it's fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote. - Dan Savage reviews Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
Yule Log. Yule Log on TV. Yule Log '83. Yule Log on YouTube. Yule Log with Music. Yule Log on Netflix. Yule Logs for Designers. Yule Log with Bacon. Previously, previouslier, previousliest.
I don’t like the feeling of disappointing my kids. But I refuse to give into this holiday overkill. I’m overwhelmed enough as it is. Today I gave all of my kids a bath. We read with each of them for the recommended 20 minutes. We reviewed our Math Facts. We practiced guitar. We sat together at the table and ate a meal that was NOT procured at a drive-thru. We played outside. Most days, I’m struggling to achieve all these things. I can’t have these haphazard, once-monthly overblown holidays take over my life.One mom talks about "bringing the holidays down a notch," 'cause ain't nobody got time for that.
Chow.com tells you how to ship cookies and other treats for the holidays: "You don't want to ship any cookie or baked good that won't hold up for three to five days sitting around your house in the container you plan to ship in. Not sure? Do a test batch and see what happens." [more inside]
To: Creative Director
Subject: Holiday Card Approval
Subject: Holiday Card Approval
Not a lot of people know that today is Owain Glyndwr Day. "Welsh prince Owain Glyndwr led a successful people's rebellion against England's iron-fisted rule in the early 15th century and arguably became the most famous and highly regarded figure in Welsh history." [more inside]
Flickr user ElectroSpark collects and shares “random bits of vintage ephemera from mid-century vacationers,” with many in the form of charming round-cornered Kodachromes. In particular, his Fairs & Expos set with its collection of holiday snapshots from Brussels ’58, New York ’64 and Expo ’67 in Montreal, are all from a by-gone era. The collection includes both vintage graphics and photos.
If you lived in Canada in the 80s and 90s, then the holiday season meant one thing: Give like Santa, save like Scrooge.
A Humanitarian Gift Guide: Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a scarf from a brothel survivor. [more inside]
"Regardless of political stance, no one can deny the joy felt upon seeing your loved ones return home safely -- WelcomeHomeBlog.com is a site celebrating that amazing feeling. Visit daily for heartwarming stories, videos and pictures of members of our courageous armed forces returning home to their families and friends..."
I was a bit disheartened to discover that one of my favorite frozen treats, the Creamsicle, has an "official" day (August 14th) and that I'd missed it. Well, that will never have to happen again thanks to the handy Food Holidays Calendar, part of the Bizarre American Holidays page (Warning -- the graphic design will make your eyes bleed). Today (August 22nd) was Be an Angel Day, but for most of you reading this, I wish you a frabjous National Spongecake Day
Celebrate the eight-hour work day, dance around a pole, affirm your patriotism to beat the reds, build your community through candy and flower filled baskets, and get caught in flagrante delicto: it's a very special day. Previously, previously
In alpine Europe, Perchta the Belly-Slitter (a.k.a Berta/Berchta/Frau Percht) roams during the Twelve Days of Christmas, and if you piss her off, she'll cut out your entrails and stuff you full of straw and garbage. And you thought Krampus was all you had to dodge to get through the holidays! [more inside]
At this time of year it's nice to reminisce about all of the great holidays past, or if your family is anything like mine you'll be celebrating Hellidays instead.
Sandra Lee: Much loved cake guru, teaches us mere mortals a valuable lesson about Kwanzaa via angelfood cake, in her great track record of cultural and religious understanding. Higher quality vid, w/ads.
Cheering for the othe side From the story: "They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas. It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through. Did you hear that? The other team's fans?" A feel good story for the holidays.
80s era holiday television complete with antenna, TV guide, and remote.
Despite the much-maligned economy, people are seemingly starting the holiday season early this year in Loveland, Colorado by "paying it forward" for strangers' coffee at a Starbucks drive-through. This has happened in 2006 and similar events were debated last year on the blue, which led me to believe it was not a real phenomenon. CNN has the video version of the first link with interviews of those involved. Maybe it's not a PR stunt after all.
NetClassixFilter: The next time you're standing clueless in the greeting cards section of your local drugstore franchise, you'll be wishing you'd visited the Gallery of Unfortunate Greeting Cards instead. For all your holiday needs: Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Weddings, 4th of July, Hallowe'en, Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of course, Washington's Birthday. [via Cap'n Wacky] [more inside]
German newspaper Der Spiegel decided to take a look at Europe's oddest folk traditions and festivals. Perhaps you can have a metaphorical hard-on for the phallus festival of Tyrnavos, Greece. Maybe you're hungry for how a small Belgian town celebrates the practice of swallowing live fish. Or, alternately, you can look down on those bizarre practices... while chasing a giant wheel of cheese down a hill. [more inside]
It has now been several years since Jacquie Lawson, an English artist living in the picturesque village of Lurgashall in Southern England, created an animated Christmas card in 2000. The e-card, featuring her dog, Chudleigh, her cats, and her 15th-century cottage, was sent to a few friends for their amusement. Those friends sent the e-card to others, and within weeks Jacquie was inundated with requests from all over the world to design more e-cards. [more inside]
Need some help with holiday shopping? Me too. Here's a gift guide roundup: NY Mag * TimeOutNY * Wired * Engadget * CNET * Salon * Time * Newsweek * WaPo * Cool Hunting * DesignSponge under $25 and affordable art guide * Etsy * NOTCOT * Lucky * In Style * Style.com * Travel & Leisure * Treehugger * BoardGameGeek * Babes in Toyland (NSFW) * Babble
I pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me. Why? Better gifting experience, better ethics, better for the environment.
The winner of the 2007 White Castle recipe competition? Slider latkes. Not Jewish? White Castle will help you put their burgers just about anywhere.
My Jewish Birthday is better than yours. On my birthday, the Hasidic movement was founded, the first Chabad rabbi was brought into the world, and the Baal Shem Tov was born. So, how cool is your Jewish birthday?
In need of last-minute Christmas gifts? Want to help the world in some way? Websites like ChangingThePresent and Alternative Gifts International allow you to buy or sponsor something useful as a present - from an hour with a creative coach, to wheelchairs in Cambodia; from walking children to school in the West Bank to flighting corruption. Maybe even a charity gift certificate? [more inside]
So you're in the mood for some Christmas music, but you're tired of all the old standards. Not to worry, the web has you covered courtesy of several vinyl sharing blogs. First off, there's Check the Cool Wax, with the soundtrack to Rankin/Bass's Night Before Christmas, Pee-Wee's Christmas Special, Yuletide Disco, Western Christmas Songs & Exciting Christmas Stories featuring Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman. Much, much more inside.
Why, God, Why? We've never seen a holiday cash-in too bizarre to love. This season, please to enjoy A Very Idol Christmas.