Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holiday Tips From the Jet Set Desk

This morning I was at my desk when someone started playing Christmas music quite loudly. Not just the regular cheery kind, but the pseudo-religious stuff. Not so religious that you could play it at church, but the kind that smacks of over-earnest faith plying. Yes, I’m religious, but there’s something about smarmy pseudo-religious stuff that annoys me (e.g. the book You Are Special.) I took immediate action: blasting War’s Low Rider. It is time to hunker down to the music and offer some holiday tips to you, dear reader.

If you’re like me you’re so popular you’re surrounded by treats in every variety. Do not despair! You do not have to eat all of it! There is NO need to waste calories on inferior goods. Pretend that you are like me and in possession of a sophisticated palate (maybe you are lucky—oh grey-eyed Athena!—and do not have to pretend.) Your first step is to visually examine the offering on its paper plate. Does it look dry? Does the cookie appear to be too hard or made with some sort of strange artificial color? Go ahead, get in touch with your neo-con self and issue a preemptive strike—throw away all unappealing specimens. If the treat passes visual inspection, it’s time for a test bite. Sample one piece by biting only a fraction of the mass. Immediately evaluate the taste, texture (or ‘mouth-feel’) and the quality of the ingredients. Does the caramel lack salt? Is it sticking to the wax paper cover? Is the fudge crystalline or chalky? Do you suspect the addition of marshmallow fluff? STOP right there and eliminate all like pieces. If you have children, or access to some, you may save inferior pieces for them, otherwise it’s to the trash bin!

Today some kind soul in the office tried to offer me foil-wrapped chocolates from a net bag. I don’t feel bad in saying I scoffed in his face. “I’m not eating THOSE,” I said, not so much self-importantly as importantly. Am I supposed to compromise my standards for a piece of wax gussied up as cacao of the gods? I say NO, and neither should you. Your calories are precious; do not waste them on the detritus of sugar that surrounds you. You are better than that! DO eat your Tolberones and Milka bars, perfectly spiced gingerbread, and perfect clementines.

When someone asks if you are “All ready for Christmas,” resist the urge to throttle them. It’s best if you can take the ruse of jocularity in the question and turn it onto the inquirer. A simple “No” with no hint of elaboration makes for an intriguing finality to the conversation. If you feel like elaborating you could include phrases like, “Are we ever ready for Christmas in the meta-physical sense?” or “I find that I am ready for Christmas throughout the whole year. I am not tied to a date on a calendar in that way.” If it’s your dental hygienist who asks the question, feel free to pretend that you are asleep.

You would think I’d be feeling guilty right now. This is my first year with a non-real Christmas tree. Au contraire! I can leave the lights blazing on all four trees and not worry about drying them to the point of tinderboxes. I did not know that my soul could be freed by branches made from tinsel and heavy wire. I am not urging a mass-flight to packaged plastic perfection, but I am saying that not finding needle spikes in my carpet and in the corners for the next six months might be worth it.

If you have a spouse like mine (and you don’t, I’m sure of it) who honestly couldn’t think of a thing he wants for Christmas no matter how many times or ways you ask, it’s ok to tell everyone that the thing he wants most are gift cards to Target.

Do you have any tips for the hoi polloi?


Anonymous said...

I don't feel one ounce guilty about the calories used up by those lovely french croissants I pleasured last night. Thank you. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I hate new blogger for consistently getting rid of my comments because I log in incorrectly. That is where my Christmas spirit went--and you can blame blogger.

And also, I refuse to feel pressured to do all of the ridiculous LDS ideas that come into my inbox--the 24 day advent calendar where a family reads a different scripture and does service--the "true meaning" of the candy cane/star/tree/shepherd. I say, stick to Rudolph's Christmas special and you will be just fine.
And last year I threw away FOUR plates of delivered "goodies" from people who were feeling the non-friendly for 11 months guilt. Suck up your guilt, people, and don't inflict disgusting sugar cookies on me.

Anonymous said...

I think you should get him the book, You are Special and wrap it up in some cellophane with some cinnamon scented pine cones and foil wrapped Santas. And maybe a gift certificate for a King Kong cone from Macey's? What a treat!

Speaking of scents....

I think you should consider getting him some perfume...I mean cologne? from:

**In the Library** scent

Who wouldn't like to smell like old worn paper, leather, & cloth with a touch of wood polish? I know I would.

With your love of the written word, he's bound to get read. hmmmmm...

undefined said...

Believe it or not, I do have a spouse like yours. I ask, I ask, and I ask, and he consistently comes up with absolutely nothing, which is what he'll be getting come Christmas morning. Or very little, at least. That'll teach him.

compulsive writer said...

So happy you're back--I've been craving a Carina post and to find one that addresses the joys and pitfalls of holiday baking pleases me greatly.

I am fortunate to have four kids to hoist the inferior stuff upon. (I am a little conflicted over this, however, because I also feel some sense of responsibility to help educate their palates--and you know I have that seven-year-old with hugs issues about trans fats.)

I am unfortunate to live in a neighborhood with too many fabulous cooks so the calories accumulate much too quickly even when I save myself for the good stuff.

Now I hope you'll excuse me. I need to run back to the huge gift basket my friend just dropped off plum full of an array of fine delectibles from Trader Joe's.

p.s. Carina, I need to pick your brain. I've got to go get a pedicure and I need a recommendation of someplace that's reasonable but good and most especially hygienically correct. Do you have a favorite?

Kiki said... you have an awesome fudge recipe, Carina? I want some.

~j. said...

Croissants. mmmmmmmmmmm.

Am I white trash because I like Hershey's?

Anonymous said...

Compulsive Writer - Bonnie Nails on 800 North in Orem is fantastic... hygienically correct AND reasonably priced. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Where were you today before I gorged on a sickening cupcake from a 5th grade class party? Completely disgusting, and I ate the whole #$&@ thing.

Where's a choice croissant when I need one?

Anonymous said...

My hubby won't tell me anything he wants either. It drives me C-R-A-Z-Y!!! Ugh.
Great tips. ;)

Geo said...

Classic Carina + the Voice of Reason = Perfect. You may have single-handedly saved my Christmas.

Anonymous said...

kiki--the one I posted on the serrano savories site is awesome. And easy.

Kiki said...

Thanks, la yen. I shall try it out.

Anonymous said...

"All ready for Christmas?" I could have used your advice a week ago. I work in a library, and apparently, everyone feels the need to make small talk as I check out their books. You can guess what the most popular topic has been.