It’s been a winter f*cking wonderland out there.
I knew it was coming eventually, but I was feeling a little smug since it hadn’t happened here until a couple of weeks ago.
It’s not that I hate snow per se, it’s the immobility it causes. Or like a bad pet, it’s not the beast itself at fault, but the owner.
Shovel your goddamn sidewalks!
I’m not doing well with the lack of light this year (I’m not sure I ever do, but this year feels like the worst ever) and I’m overjoyed with the arrival and passing of the winter solstice.
I’m not a fan of Christmas* either.
I’m just not into the religion, commercialism, consumerism, greedy children, gifts, worship of fat beardos (Santas, not you my bear friends), waste of materials and electricity, varieties of anxieties, bad music, the pushing of the season to before Thanksgiving, and the food-sharing, traveling, and gathering of masses of breathing, snotting, vomiting bodies during the peak contagion period. But perhaps mostly because it is the deepest, darkest, dreariest time of year – and that is the reason people celebrate and I know worse winter weather is yet to come, but for me, the new year is what I’m excited for, and feel intense relief when it comes. It signifies that the holidays are f*cking over, each day brings a few more seconds of light, and the anxieties and societal ho-ho-ho throat-cramming go away.
I sort of liked winter as a child. However, I hated it as a very small child because of the tortures of plastic bread bags on my feet inside my boots and socks on my hands over my mittens. I looked forward to Christmas, though my excitement was tempered with dread that it would all be over too soon, and a feeling of watching something beloved die. In hindsight, my favorite day of the holiday season was St. Nick’s on December 6th when we woke to a few little presents in a sock – a tangerine, a couple of walnuts, a candy cane, and a little trinket like a flavored lip gloss or novelty eraser. I loved the simplicity and the lack of anxiety surrounding the day and some connectedness with the past. Didn’t the Little House on the Prairie girl savor only a nibble or two a day of her sole simple cookie gift? Or one of those characters in one of those books… Children can bizarrely identify with, and intensely feel, the grand sufferings of others – Anne Frank, dirt-farmer kids, sooty-city orphans – without ever having a moment of true sufferings themselves. Or maybe it was just me and a f*cked-up upbringing in an old religion where suffering and self-martyrdom was supposed to be a good thing. Either way, I still crave and appreciate the most simple aspects of the holiday – not much fuss and some citrus fruit.
And speaking of citrus and to break my no-cooking-in-the-blog-rule, I’ll share my candied peels. They’re tasty but take a long time to make – mostly because of multiple blanchings to temper the bitterness and then the hour+ cooking time in simmering sugar water. We needed some for a recipe but can’t find them in our suburban groceries – and if I did find them, I’m sure they’d be dyed and full of pesticides. I used organic pink grapefruit, orange, and lemon, and cane sugar – and then dipped some in dark chocolate and rolled some in pecans for good measure. (Yeah, the sugar coating is kinda clumpy, but whatever.)
And I am solidly anti-craft for the season. I don’t want to make something only usable for a few weeks out of the year. And I don’t really believe in exchanging gifts (especially to every known person) beyond a few edibles or drinkables. However, over my lifespan I’ve made exactly one ornament, one stocking, and this tree skirt.
N has a soft spot for the holidays, and will occasionally erect a tree. His tree needed a skirt and I didn’t have any appropriate fabric, nor wanted to waste a good yard or so on something that would be rarely used, so I cut up some felted/fulled sweater scraps. I think my original plan was something like a penny rug, but the cutting took long enough, so I just tied it all together.
I don’t know where it is now – probably in still in storage five hours away (and we no longer have lovely wood floors).
But things will be better soon, we’ll have the tiniest amount of more light day by day. And we’ll eventually get out for some winter woods activities.
*Our Christmases are a pleasant low-key affair limited to time spent with just a few family members, good food, dogs, a cool kid, and walks, so I’m quite thankful and look forward to them. It’s the larger sense of the season (and some past holiday events) I abhor. My second favorite Christmases were the years I spent alone with Chinese take-out in a quiet apartment with the neighbors away – sounds bleak, but it was awesome and always the most productive few days of the year for me.