Thursday, December 23, 2010

Festive Cape

Wow, Capers!  There are some seriously great looking light displays around the neighborhood this year.  Nice work!  Looks like everyone is ready for the big day.  All the great looking decorations inspired me to holiday up the Cape Blogger header photo.  I tried to make it snow on the blog, but it kept locking up my site.  Maybe next year I'll be more savvy about such things.  As it stands, we might be getting some white stuff for real by the end of the weekend, but probably not in time for Santa.

Here's hoping you have it all under control.  Time to wrap it up folks - pun intended.  For those celebrating Christmas, I wish you all a peaceful and joyful holiday.  For any who are not, thank you for your patience.  :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vote for Your New Board of Governors!

In the hardcopy December Caper, we all received informational bios on the candidates for the 2011 CSC Board of Governors and a ballot.  If you've misplaced yours, as I have, there are extra copies down at the Improvement Association office.  Please take a moment before January 7th to place your votes to determine who will guide our community through the upcoming year.  The election includes the Board of Governors, the Budget Committee, and approval of the FY2011 budget.  The Cape is a big neighborhood with a BIG operating budget, and the Board and Budget Committee get to determine in large part how that money is spent.  I think they've done a great job in the past, but we should be interested in having a say.

I can tell you in 17 years here in the Cape, I've voted in community elections once, maybe twice.  It just hasn't been on my radar.  I do intend to vote this year, but it occurred to me that it would be REALLY great if we could do it online.  I do find it difficult to remember to fit a trip down to the Clubhouse into my daily craziness (that's a little lame, but true).  You can mail in your ballot, but finding a functioning pen, an envelope, addressing it, finding a stamp, taking it to the mailbox...  Again, SO incredibly lame, but that's the reality of why it doesn't get done in this household.

I would cast my vote in a heartbeat, though, if the ballot were readily available online.  I'm envisioning a reminder e-mail with a link to the bios and an online ballot on the CSCIA website.  Maybe even a question and answer page where Capers can post questions for the candidates online.  There are ample online voting software packages available - eBallot, Vote Pro, Big Pulse, etc.  I'm sure there must be a way to verify residency and one vote/person or household.  I have to believe such a capability would dramatically increase the level of participation in our elections.

The fact is, a very few people elected by a VERY small portion of the Cape (I don't know what the typical voter response is, but I'm guessing less than 20%? 10%?) controls the direction of this community.  Again, I have been pleased in the past with the work our hardworking Board has done, but I'd like to see more community involvement and input, as would they, I imagine.  Making use of available technology to make voting and information more accessible would be a great start.  Perhaps this has been batted around at those meetings I'm so bad about attending.

While we're at it, how about a CSCIA Facebook page?  Twitter feed from the CSCIA office?  Live video feed of the community meetings with an option to play back the video?  Strategically placed webcams around the community so we can go online and see if the water is high at Deep Creek, or if it's crowded at the Main Beach, or if our kayaks are safe at Lake Claire or the Little Magothy?  OK, I know there are privacy and security issues with the last one, but it would be really cool.  I love the Bay Bridge traffic cam and the Naval Academy harbor cam.  Why not some Cape cams (vandals might have a go at them, but at least we would have them on video in the act)?  Anybody else have other ideas?

Community involvement has been a struggle in the Cape for decades, and now the technology is available to change that.  Maybe something for the new Board to consider.  Please take a moment and cast your vote the old-fashioned way before January 7th.  It's still every bit as important if a little archaic.  You can also place your vote in person at the Membership Meeting at the Clubhouse on January 11, 2011 at 7:30PM.  I'm off right now to cast mine (if the office is open, that is.  Online voting would always be open, 24/7.  I'm just saying...)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tracks in the Snow at Sunrise

I awoke to this view after being jarred awake by a phone call from the robot version of Superintendent Maxwell at 6 AM letting me know I could sleep in this AM (can we opt out of the call and just get the e-mail or text?).  While sleeping in was no longer doable (early morning phone calls are always disconcerting), I was happy to be up to appreciate the sunrise.  Our Eastern view is obscured during the warm months by foliage, but once the trees drop all of their leaves, we are able to enjoy the sunrise through a veil of bare branches.  This morning's was especially lovely with the new snow on the ground.

Since I was up, Laika had to join the party, so we went for a morning stroll around the backyard.  By the way, she is recovering very well from her second surgery.  She will still need to be on a leash outside for another month or so, and she's not bearing full weight on the most recently treated hip, but as far as she's concerned, she's raring to go.

With snow on the ground, I gained a little insight into her sniffing and snorting frenzy when we go outside.  Normally it's impossible for me with my human sense of smell to know what interests her so.  She will spend hours sniffing around every bush and blade of grass in the yard (she's got a built-in fur coat while I shiver in my pajama bottoms and slippers). The tracks in the snow this AM revealed a little of what she knows that I don't.

There is at least one red fox that lives over the edge of our yard.  We've seen it on several occasions, but not recently.  I see evidence in the form of berry-laden scat and the odd pile of bird feathers that it frequents our yard but haven't had visual confirmation in a couple of years. The fox family keeps different hours than do we.

This morning, Laika pulled me toward one of her favorite patches of bushes, and I noticed a trail of animal tracks winding in and around it.  It's always fun after a snowfall to try and guess what's been cruising your yard based on the tracks left behind.  I'm no expert tracker, but I've made amateur identifications of squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, cats, birds, dogs, and foxes just in our yard.  I feel pretty sure the tracks we found this morning were left by our friend the fox.  They were smaller than any of the neighbor dogs' paws, larger than the black and white cat's that considers our yard its territory, fatter than a raccoon's, and certainly not a squirrel's.  Combined with the fact that they disappeared over the edge of our yard into the gully where the foxes have their den, and I am 95% confident of my assessment.  Here are the pictures.  See what you think.

Fox Tracks?

My hand (disregard sausage fingers)  for reference.

Sketch from a red fox website

Online verification - see top picture leftmost track

Laika put her nose to every one of these tracks in utter excitement.  The cool thing is that she doesn't need the tracks at all to find the fox's path.  Her nose tells her what is normally invisible to my senses.  It's really remarkable and why dogs are employed for a wide range of tasks from bomb and drug sniffing to detection of disease and epilepsy (may not be scent related in the latter case, but still cool).

Our extra two hours this morning has expired.  Time to get the kids on the delayed bus and get on with my day.  Thank you Laika and Superintendent Maxwell for the early morning adventure.  Everyone get to work and school safely as you make your own tracks through the day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Baking!

Right about now is when Christmas baking is kicking into full swing for most people.  Some folks start earlier, but I've not found that to be advisable in my case.  Two weeks before Christmas is more than enough time for me to snarf down alarming amounts of cookies and candy.  Any more lead time, and the New Year's resolutions just get that much more delusional.

Every family has their own Christmas baking traditions - some that are handed down through the generations and others that are discovered along the way and are good enough to be incorporated into the portfolio.  Part of the fun of Christmas baking, too, is not just what we make in our own homes, but being on the receiving end of treats that flow in from friends and neighbors, giving us a taste of their holiday baking traditions.  Some of these have become as highly anticipated as any of our own goodies.  My kids each have at least one cookie made by friends that they prefer to any of mine, although they're not allowed to say it to my face.

Christmas cooking for me is all about candied fruits, nuts, butter, and sugar - ingredients that were historically available in the harsh winter months.  Fresh fruits, for instance, weren't available at Christmas way back when, so preserved versions were used in the form of jams and candied fruits.  Candied fruits today are found almost exclusively in the oft ridiculed fruitcake.  I actually do like true fruitcake, as opposed to the mass produced bricks that mysteriously get bought up during the season by God knows who.  I also see the fruit in German stollen cakes, but I've never tried one.  Graul's carries them this time of year, but I'm guessing they can't compete with the real deal.

I use candied fruit in my annual batch of fruitcake cookies.  My family was introduced to these over 20 years ago by one of my Dad's patients.  Isabelle was a phenomenal southern cook, and she showed up one day before Christmas with a 5-gallon tin full to the top with these gems.  They were the best thing we had ever tasted - festive with red and green candied pineapple and cherries but not a hint of what you might associate with traditional fruitcake flavor - just moist, sweet, rich, buttery, nutty, goodness.  Isabelle was generous with her recipe, and my mother and I have been making them ever since.  It's a labor of love - cutting up the fruit is truly tedious and messy - but the payoff is grand.  They are in my estimation the perfect Christmas cookie.

Fruitcake Cookies

The second Christmas cookie that we always bake are Swedish spritz - another perfect cookie for the season.  I picked up this tradition from my Mother-in-law, along with her antique cookie press.  I battled the old copper and tin press for a few years before I broke down and bought a new pressed cookie gun (tradition only gets you so far).  It was a revelation.  My next big step will be to move up to the electric version - pressed cookie nirvana.  We press these cookies in a variety of shapes including Xmas trees, snowmen, wreaths and stars.  They are tender, buttery, crunchy, bite-sized cookies sprinkled with red and green sugar sprinkles.  Always festive and pretty and perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or with a cup of tea late at night.  Santa LOVES them.

Swedish Spritz

The final cookie that I like to make are what I grew up calling "sandies".  In my husband's family, they are known as "pecan balls", and I've heard people of Russian descent call them "Russian tea cakes".  They are round cookies made from fairly dry dough so they keep their round shape when they cook.  The main ingredient is pecans, and when they're out of the oven, you roll them in powdered sugar.  I think they look like snowballs, and I love the crunchy, nutty, buttery flavor.  I like a little more powdered sugar on mine than the picture below.


That is my trifecta of Christmas cookies from the Roberts household.  I guess the recurring theme is sugar, butter, nuts, red, green and snowy.  One ingredient that I've never embraced as part of Christmas baking is chocolate.  I like making chocolate candies (fudge, chocolate covered nuts, caramels, and fruits), but not cooking with it.  I couldn't tell you why.  Chocolate is a new world ingredient that was only known in beverage form until the mid 19th century.  Evidence of cacao as a beverage has been found in Honduran ruins dating back to 1400 BC.  The Spanish explorers brought it back to Europe from Central America in the age of exploration.  The drink became wildly popular there through the 17th and 18th centuries, initially in royal courts and eventually with the masses in "chocolate houses" - old world versions of Starbucks.

In the mid 1800s, a Dutch chocolatier figured out how to process cacao to remove the bitterness and make it mild enough for cooking.  This eventually led to the invention of what we know today as chocolate.  At any rate, I'm not really sure why chocolate doesn't feel right for my own baking at Christmas.  Maybe it doesn't feel as traditional somehow - a mere 150 years old - new kid on the block.  I know it's popular in other households, though, and we are happy to chow down on all the yummy chocolate treats that come our way.  We're actually contemplating making a "buche de noel" or traditional French yule log cake this year, and that will require letting go of my chocolate bias.

The other two items I've been known to make in the past are divinity and cheese wafers.  Divinity is an old timey candy made with egg whites, corn syrup and nuts.  It's kind of a cross between nougat and meringue - VERY sweet.  My Father-in-law loved it, as do I, so I always made a point of making it for the two of us.  I didn't have the heart to last year after losing him a few months earlier, but I think I'll make some this year and eat it all myself for the both of us.  It's a tricky concoction, and I've been known to blow up two different hand mixers in the process of mixing it, but when it's just right, it earns its heavenly name.  The little mounds of snow white candy look like the peak of the matterhorn.


The cheese wafers are little bite sized, buttery, cheddary, spicy, crispy rounds that are my Mother-in-law's favorites.  They are perfect for parties and get togethers.  My recipe for those comes from my Great Aunt Dorothy Jean who was the master at making them.  I do a close approximation, but she was the queen at that and most everything else in her southern world.

The only thing that saves me from eating my body weight in butter, sugar, flour and nuts during this season is giving away the vast majority of our baked goods as gifts.  I pack up and ship out as much as possible to friends, neighbors, family and teachers.  It's the true joy in baking them - the chance to share the fruits of our labor with others.  Most of us don't have too many opportunities to do that these days - to spend hours on end baking in the kitchen and then offer that piece of ourselves to the people who are special in our lives.  It's just one more thing that makes this time of year like no other.

I'd love to hear your Christmas baking traditions.  Feel free to share your stories and/or recipes.  I'll let you know how the "buche" comes out.  I'm not terribly optimistic, but if the cake doesn't roll well, we will bury it in mounds of chocolate frosting - thank you ancient Central Americans/Aztecs and Mayans, 16th century Spanish explorers, and 19th century Dutchmen for making this possible in my 21st century kitchen...


Aunt Dorothy Jean's Cheese Wafers (from the United Methodist Women's "From Latta Tables" cookbook, Latta, SC:

2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (best to grate it yourself - can be dry if you buy pre-grated) 

1 cup whipped margarine (I was always a little unsure what she meant by whipped margarine, but I have best results if I use softened stick margarine and literally beat it in the mixer before adding the other ingredients so it's creamy.) 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground red cayenne pepper (I go heavier with this - a full tsp. - like them spicy) 

1/4 tsp salt 

and the secret ingredient - 2 cups Rice Krispies 

Mix all the ingredients together. It's a fairly crumbly dough at first, but the butter and cheese bring it together eventually. Roll into small balls the size of a marble (I do about 1/2 - 3/4 inch diameter). Place on slightly greased cookie sheet and press each ball flat with a dinner fork ( like you would peanut butter cookies, but just one direction). Bake about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 4 dozen depending on the size. Store in airtight containter. 

The only problem I've ever had with these is that if you undercook them, the Rice Krispies retain too much moisture and you get kind of a stale texture. Make sure you cook them long enough and don't make them too big. 


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tree is Up!

2010 Roberts Family Xmas Tree
I think the most patriotic I feel each year is when we put up our Xmas tree.  Thanks to my Mother-in-law, we have every official annual White House ornament (I went back and filled in the ones issued before I was a Roberts).  I can count on her each year for the newest White House ornament and a gift-wrapped bag of whole, shelled pecans.  It took me a few years to understand the pecan thing (apparently her church sold them as a fund raiser), but now I would be crushed if they or the White House ornament didn't show up under my tree.  It's tradition.

My personal favorite of the ornaments is the 2007 edition that depicts the first and only Presidential wedding in the White House - that of President Grover Cleveland to Frances Folsom - held in the Blue Room.  There is another ornament showing Rutherford Hayes out for a snowy sleigh ride and one of Andrew Johnson out and about in his carriage.  They are a wonderful timeline of life in the White House.

I am not prone to fits of patriotism (Michele Obama got in trouble making such a comment), but I LOVE our White House ornaments and the excitement the kids show at taking them out when we trim the tree.  They insist on hanging them in chronological order.  Kathryn unpacks and Henry hangs them.  It's nice to set aside some of my cynism and disillusionment for a day and enjoy a little pride in our country's history.  Thanks Mom.  Merry Christmas, and USA!  USA!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two Local Favorites - Midnight Madness and Uptown Redesigns

If you're like me and missed Midnight Madness this past Thursday, we have a second chance this Thursday, Dec. 9th from 6 PM - midnight.  This is a great opportunity to get out and about downtown - enjoy the holiday decorations and live entertainment on the streets of our lovely historic town, knock off a few more holiday gifts, and support our local business community.  I went a couple of years ago, and despite a torrential downpour, had a terrific time browsing, visiting, and buying.  The bad weather was a good excuse to pop into a local watering hole for a hot toddy.

One of my favorite rising local businesses has moved into a West St. storefront for the holiday season and will be open from 6 - 9 PM on Thursday.  Annapolis resident, Sandy Philpott, started her company, Uptown Redesigns last year, and has found terrific success with her innovative business model.  She takes used leather coats and materials (scavenged from local thrift shops or provided by customers) and remakes them into stylish handbags of all shapes and sizes.  Her company cleverly integrates a fashion oriented product with the "green" movement to create environmentally conscious, quality bags that we can feel a little (lot) better about owning.

I stumbled onto an article about Uptown Redesigns last year in The Capital, and instantly knew I had a coat that was in need of Sandy's handiwork.  Back in the 70s, my Mom bought my Dad a tan, suede, sport coat.  They were a hip young Air Force couple living the good life on base in Northern California, and the suede coat was the height of style.  Dad wore it until it ceased to be "cool" when he settled into the more mature lifestyle of a doctor in private practice.  The Air Force years drifted into their past, and the suede coat gradually drifted to the back of the closet in their new suburban track home.

There it stayed until my senior year of college in 1987/88.  I raided my parents' closets for any free outerwear that might pass as stylish on campus at Duke.  This was the era of over-sized, big-shouldered, men's coats being in style for women trying to find their place in a male dominated world/workforce.  We all wore our fathers' old Brooks Brothers overcoats, cardigan sweaters, and yes, even suede blazers.  The coat accompanied me to a blurry array of college parties, sorority events, and classes.  It's amazing it survived in any kind of wearable condition, but I continued to use it even after graduation when I joined the workforce at NASA.  The number of women in high tech jobs was on the rise, but workplace fashion lagged behind.  Not that it mattered in my high-water world of engineers, computer programmers, and rocket scientists...

Eventually, the suede coat made its way to the back of even MY closet.  I pulled it out now and again like an old friend, but there came a time when it finally lost all appeal to me as outerwear.  The days of baggy and shapeless were behind, and the coat had seen its final use.  I was incapable, however, of parting with it.  It represented too much history - both my parents' and mine.

Fast forward to 2010 when I stumbled onto that article about Sandy Philpott and Uptown Redesigns. I immediately saw the potential for the rebirth of my beloved but bedraggled coat as a stylish handbag, once again serving a meaningful purpose.  The suede was still in great shape if a little soiled around the edges, and it had become remarkably soft and pliable with years of wear.  I contacted Sandy, and we made plans to make the handoff at a street fair in West Annapolis.

So I delivered the precious raw material of my Dad's old coat to Sandy and told her to do with it what she would.  I loved her excitement at the prospect of a new project and all the creative possibilities.  My only guideline was that I wanted a good-sized utilitarian tote that made use of the original buttons, making the bag recognizable as my Dad's coat.  I intended to make a gift of it to my Mom for her birthday, and it was important to me that both my parents see the resemblance without me pointing it out.

Sandy turned the coat around in short order, and I ended up with not one, but two stylish and useful bags with crazy sentimental value (I can assure you I have no other bags about which I can make that claim).  One was the tote that I had requested, complete with the original buttons as trim, the original coat pocket flaps on the outside, and the original inside lapel pocket incorporated into a pocket inside the bag.  The second was a clutch put together with the scraps of suede and blended with some brown leather scraps from another project.  I was delighted beyond measure.  My plan was to let my Mom pick the one she liked best and keep the other for myself, but when my Mom received them, she loved them so much that she refused to part with either one.  I guess I'll have to wait for them to be left to me in the will...

Here are the before and after shots:

The Old Suede Coat

The New Custom Tote and Clutch
In Action to Get a Feel for the Size

If you have any old, dated leather items taking up space in the recesses of your closet, you might consider having Sandy remake them into a bag that better fits with today's fashion sensibility.  Or, if you're looking for a nice leather bag that has been "up-cycled" from an unappreciated cast off, stop by and visit Sandy's shop at 162A West St. over the holidays to see her current inventory and watch her work her magic in person.  She really does nice work, and her enthusiasm is infectious.  You can't help but wish for her to succeed.

The bags are not inexpensive.  There's a slight discount for providing your own leather, but you pay a premium for her custom work and for the satisfaction of knowing that you've acquired something of beauty and function that was nearly left to rot on the trash heap of humanity.  It seems especially worthwhile in the case of an item with sentimental value attached to it.  She will be open on Thursday evening from 6 - 9 PM for Midnight Madness.  Bring your leather goods with you if you want to have her give you some ideas.  You can always contact her through her website, and you can also find Uptown Redesigns on Facebook.

I will be stopping in to see Sandy on Thursday night with another dinosaur of late 80s/early 90s attire from my closet- a full, suede skirt that is nearly ankle length.  It's not a length that I can wear today without looking like a cross between Pocahontas and Susan B. Anthony, so I hope to have Sandy lop it off to a flattering knee length and make me something new and interesting from the ample leftover leather.  The skirt has been hanging in my closet for 20 years.  It's well overdo for a 21st century update by a 21st century entrepreneur.

Hope to see you downtown on Thursday!

Images of Things to Come - Brrrr!

Cape folks have been sending in pictures to our CSC community mailing list of Cape St. Claire in the winter.  It's the time of year that I first saw and fell in love with the Cape.  They were nice enough to let me share them on the Cape Blogger (thanks Laura and Debbie).  If you click on the Cape Photos tab beneath the big picture, you can take a look and start to think about what might be on the way this year for our little enclave in the way of snowfall.  (Word of the day - enclave - "enclosed territory that is culturally distinct from the foreign territory that surrounds it" or "territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory" - I had to look it up to be sure I was using it properly, and I kind of liked the idea of that word to describe our little Cape universe...)

What do you think?  Another record breaking blizzard in store this year?  Who knows.  Has anybody checked an almanac?  While scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the reality of humankind's effect on the increase in average global temperature, winters like the one we saw last year make me wish it had not been called "global warming".  Americans as a group have a little trouble appreciating certain issues from a "global" perspective.  One winter of heavy snow in our neck of the woods and the theory is clearly disproven.  But I digress...

Feel free to send me any pictures of the Cape you would like posted - bitter cold rebuttals of global warming or otherwise.  Here are a couple I took last year - not from the same storm, though.  Brrrr!!!

During the Feb. Blizzard

Frozen View Down the Creek

Frozen View Up the Creek

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cape Holiday Events

Ready or not, the Christmas season has arrived full tilt.  I still have one foot in the "not" category, but I'm coming around.  The Hanukkah folks are well into their 8 days of celebration, so I guess I should be glad for the few extra weeks at our disposal.  I'm in good shape with respect to shopping, but I'm having trouble getting into the decorating spirit.  I see that many of our Cape neighbors are ahead of me with respect to lights and trees.  I'm hoping by this weekend to catch up a little, at least with some preliminary decorating.  It will be another week before we bring home a tree.

For those of you with more shopping to do or looking for some cool locally crafted holiday items, check out the 28th Annual Bruin Holiday Craft Bazaar this weekend up at the high school.  It will be held on Saturday from 9:30 - 3 and supports Broadneck Athletics.  For those of you with young kids, you don't want to miss the annual Breakfast with Santa held in the Cape clubhouse.  This year's event will be on December 11th from 8:30 - 10:30, hosted by our very busy Strawberry Festival Committee.  I think they need to rename themselves since they do so much more than Strawberry Festival planning.  The registration form and information can be found in the November Caper online.

Back to tree trimming, we are in the "later" camp when it comes to putting up our tree.  Growing up, my family always bought and trimmed the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, but my husband has never adopted that schedule.  It's all I can do to get him to bring the tree home by the middle of the month.  His argument is that the tree dries out too much by Christmas otherwise.  I've actually come around to this approach during our 17 years of marriage.  We try to get the tree up a couple of weeks before the 25th and then take it down on New Year's Day.  That gives us a solid 3 or 4 weeks to enjoy it, and by then, I'm ready to be done with all things Christmas.

One tree trimming tradition that I've frankly never understood is the Christmas Eve trimming.  I guess if that's how it's always been done in a family, then tradition must be upheld, but it's a little foreign to me.  The only pro I can come up with is that it gives a family something to do in that Xmas Eve downtime that can be tough to fill sometimes.  And then, I guess you're obligated to leave it up well past New Year's.  Again, once January 1st arrives, I want Christmas out of my life for the next 10 - 11 months, but that's just me.

As for this year, we are shooting for December 11th to put up our tree.  I think I'll be ready by then.  We've found in recent years what works best for us is to put up a small artificial tree in the basement and decorate it with all our goofiest ornaments - the ones the kids made in preschool and elementary school that are composed of bad photos and pasta, primarily - maybe the odd plastic spoon.  Then upstairs in the family room, we put up our live tree with the train around it.  The kids and I work inside on the trees while Dad works on the outside lights.  I am in charge of repairing any light strands that won't light.  Ugh...

When all is trimmed and lit, we settle down for a bowl of homemade chili, some hot drinks (cocoa for the kids and something more interesting for Mom and Dad who are in need of a stiff drink by this time), and our annual viewing of a true Christmas classic - no, not Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life.  Our post-tree trimming movie tradition is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  It's truly therapeutic to watch the Griswolds navigate the holidays after our own day of fun mixed with frustration.  The movie never gets old and is always right on the mark.  Links to some of the classic scenes:

Where you gonna put a tree that big?

Kiss my a$$

Christmas Lights


Hap Hap Happy

Turkey Carving

Sorry, got carried away...

What are your tree trimming traditions?  Have you given up on live trees (solving the dried out tree problem)?  What about your other Xmas habits.  Does Santa leave gifts out in the open or does he wrap?  What's your Xmas Eve tradition (for us - sushi at Joss followed by Lights on the Bay, which is always a little lame - the lights, that is - but we do it anyway).  What's your signature Xmas cookie?  Eggnog, yum or yuck?  Anybody like fruitcake?  Anybody ever injured by one?  It's a whacky season, but you gotta love it.  Happy holidays!