Upgrading The Holidays

I love the holidays. It’s a time, a season, unto itself within the year. It’s still fall, so you get the clarity of the light and air you don’t get in the summer, with enough chill to break out the sweaters and coats. Things slow down a bit, as people get with the merrymaking. It becomes seasonally appropriate to listen to Christmas music (and entire radio stations dedicate themselves to this task). Decorations go up, and little twinkle lights are seen just about anywhere you go. It may be cold, it may be darker, but none of it seems to matter until January 2 (at which point we’re all instantly tired of it).

But, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t want to bitch about things regarding the holidays, so of course I went ahead and made a list for you.

Black Thursday
I don’t get this concept at all, but then again I generally think Black Friday is stupid as well. But to each his own: if you want to get up at 3am on Friday after Thanksgiving, go stand in line for a chance to get a couple hundred off a flat screen TV, I really couldn’t care less. I’ll roll out of bed around 10, hit up the turkey and stuffing leftovers and flip up the Amazon website. But, in some sort of weird arms race, the retailers now seem hell-bent on destroying their workers’ Thanksgivings by opening earlier and earlier every year. Soon we’re going to see Black Friday sales starting at the 4th of July. There are certain businesses that need to be open on Thanksgiving, but Walmart and Target are not among them. I will be forever avoiding (in so much as it’s possible) any Black Thursday offenders.

Jewelry and Car Commercials
You’ve seen these – the basic messages that you need to buy your girlfriend/wife/mother/daughter/next-door-neighbor/woman-who-stepped-on-your-foot-on-the-subway a 35 carat diamond bracelet or Lexus SUV for the holidays, or else your life will essentially become a living hell. I mean, really? Is anyone out there doing this? These commercials are almost as disingenuous as the Cadillac commercial which told you never to take a vacation so one day you could afford the American dream – which, of course, was a Cadillac.

New Years Limitations
Want to go out to dinner on New Years Eve? Look for a 30-40% mark-up on a “fixed-price” menu at your local eatery. Want to have a sip of champagne at midnight? Watch out for the breathalyzer on the way home (though I have nothing but respect for those looking to limit drinking and driving). Mostly, after Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Years always seems to be a bit of a let-down – it’s expensive, overcrowded and difficult to do much given the checkpoints. In a lot of ways, it would be better if New Years preceded Christmas at the holidays, much like it does on the Russian calendar.

Old-Timey Christmas Movies
I know I’ll get a lot of flak for this one, and maybe it’s because my family inundated me with these growing up, but Miracle on 34th Street sets my teeth on edge, and the holiday musicals make me want to take a holiday snooze. For those of you who agree with me, I recommend the following, modern day classics of the holidays: Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, The Holiday, Family Man, Serendipity and, of course, Die Hards 1 and 2, and Iron Man 3 (YES – Bruce Willis and Marvel have their place at the holidays too!). Any other modern favorites out there? Hit me up in the comments.

Cranberry Sauce on Turkey
What ancient hell is this? Does anyone actually like this crap? At my table, you’ll get gravy and you’ll like it.

What would the holidays be without a little bit of complaining (probably made you feel like you were right at home). I hope all of you had a terrific 2014 and will have an even better holiday season.

This will be the last “blog” post of 2014, as I will be putting my focus squarely back on Patriots and Tyrants for the next six weeks. For those of you familiar with the film (and thanks to those of you who are), I’m working on a follow-up, called “Served Cold: Patriots and Tyrants”, starring the terrific Madeline Louden (production in first quarter of 2015), as well as an untitled feature film following the exploits of Josh Mallory and Sam Bellini, which precedes the short films in the P&T timeline.

Though the blog is being shut down for six weeks, this won’t be the last you’ll hear from me. Stay tuned for a special announcement sometime early in December, some recipes from my cookbook, and I might jump in here and there with a few messages and such. The blog will be back in full force on January 12, 2015.

Happy holidays!