on nativity scenes

I’ve wanted a nativity scene for years. I’ve put off buying one, though, mostly because I’m never home for Christmas but usually at my mom’s or my dad’s for the three-day Christmas stretch (or, ahem, partnered with someone who does not see the merit in Christmas decorations). I saw these the other day and instantly fell in love.



both images via 22 Words

And then I saw this post over at Rachel Held Evan’s blog, talking about the difficulty of finding a “fair-trade, biblically-accurate, ethnically-realistic, reasonably-priced, child-safe” nativity scene. And while obviously RHE is spoofing this a little bit, it’s actually one of the reasons I liked the minimalistic sets so much–no dominant representation of what the Holy Family looked like, and when it comes to the colored blocks one, not even labels marking those as present. If only because, in our family, it would make perfect sense for a dinosaur to be there, too.


gobble gobble gobble

I was reading the paper this morning (the Dutch Volkskrant), and I read an article that said that Dutch turkeys were safe until Easter – apparently, the Dutch still don’t eat much turkey, and Germans mass-order at Easter, not Christmas.

This has got to change. Not because I think turkeys shouldn’t be allowed to live long and happy lives, but because roasting an entire turkey is something magical that fits very well with Christmas. Imagine, everyone is busy at home, wrapping presents, playing games, fighting with each other, eating too much crap, enjoying the snow, and in between all this organized chaos, you’re checking on the turkey every hour, basting it, smelling the sweet smell of turkey and stuffing. You call for your significant other, or your kid, or your mom to come help you, and at the end of the day, when the family is sitting around a dinner table piled high with so much good food, you come in with a magnificent bird that everyone oohs and awes over. Sounds good, right?

Marisa McClellan


Plus, if this tableau isn’t your thing, turkey is just plain delicious. It has a more defined taste than chicken, and it’s healthy, and it goes well with everything. Think turkey bits in enchiladas, or turkey burgers, or minced turkey with pasta. My local supermarket occasionally carries it, but it’s expensive enough that I don’t buy it regularly – only when it’s discounted. Then I stick it in the freezer and spend days planning what I’m going to do with it. I can’t wait until I’m living in a house with a good oven, and I can roast an entire turkey all by myself and eat myself sick on the stuffing.

I think it’s clear: I take my turkey seriously. Now all I need is for the rest of the Dutch population to do the same.

ho ho ho on the first of december

Ha, it’s December again! Which means it’s snowing on my blog (you’ll have to click over from your feed reader to see the tiny flakes of snow falling on my words) and it’s time for a new poem of the month. A Christmas poem, of course. Actually, what to me is the Christmas poem: “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” (more correctly titled “A Visit From St. Nicolas” but it’s not known by that name at my house and I’m sticking with tradition here).

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

It’s often attributed to Clement Clark Moore but it’s rumored that he didn’t actually write it, but that Henry Livingston did. I don’t know about that. All I know that I’ve heard this poem every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember, and that it’s not Christmas without it. I used to be almost word-perfect on it, but that skill is no longer mine, alas. (As an aside, it feels more relevant to use words like “alas” when it’s cold outside. Am I the only one that does this?) It would be fun to memorize it again. Maybe I can make that into a New Year’s resolution, thereby sticking to my resolve to never make any serious New Year’s resolutions. That would be killing two birds with one stone, or poem, in this case. I’ll let you know how that works out.