Eating Christmas: Tales of Toffee, Snow, and Christmas-Loving Jews
In this week's paper we bring a little preview of what's to come Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Crescent Ballroom: the second annual Eating Christmas. Our writers gnawed hard on the holidays, and they'll be serving up the fruits of their labors at the event. You can also read each piece (and catch a couple of comics) on Chow Bella, starting next week. Admission is free and the reading begins at 7 p.m. -- with musical mash-ups by Jason Woodbury. Here's a sneak peek of what's to come....
Unwanted by Julie Peterson
Despite being beloved and spoiled and having found a way to do just about everything I want to, I occasionally lapse into self-pity about how rarely I "get what I want." This is ridiculous, of course. Even having the luxury to think about what I want instead of struggling for what I need puts me so far up Maslow's hierarchy that I should suffer from constant vertigo. It's fairly dysfunctional to think you're deprived when you really aren't . . . but I know I'm not the only one.
Not "getting" to have relationships with particular people should not count, I tell myself -- those people are free adults with rights and, despite their abundant charms, don't exist to be won and possessed any more than I do. And if I want a particular job or skill or vacation or a muscle car or something like that, it's really up to me: my personality, my metabolism, and what I'm willing to bring to the table. I know this.
But let's say you thoughtfully ask me what I want for Christmas and I thoughtfully give you a range of options, including "a slab or two of English toffee from such-and-such a shop," and you present me with a box of cat-turd-shaped faux Almond Roca from some other local chocolatier. It is awful.
I love you, the giver, no less, but my inner diva is raging. Why did you even ask? Now, even I know that what I want is not always convenient. I don't want anyone to stress out or lose sleep finding it. I like surprises. I would adore getting no gift at all and simply enjoying your company. What I hate, far more than is reasonable, is getting what I specifically do not want. Especially after I've gone the extra mile and told you. (Because expecting you to magically know without being told is, after all, my preference.)
I also hate delicious homemade sugar cookies that have been decorated until you can't taste them anymore. But, more than anything I've already mentioned, I really, really hate hot ham. I like ham in a sandwich -- a cold sandwich -- and that's about it. The color, the texture: Ham, you are not an entrée. Being a married person with two places to eat Christmas dinner and, typically, having spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with the ham-lovin' side, it's been completely logical to skip Ham House and stop by later for dessert and parlor games, generally the best part of the entire holiday anyway.
This year, though, we have the most wonderful new Jewish nephew-in-law who will be visiting from out of town. He loves Christmas trees. He loves ham, and he has come to terms with the unholy volume of gifts received by his bride, our baby, our pet. (I was her predecessor in the role, and I still get far too many gifts.) I will almost undoubtedly attend dinner at Ham House. Maybe I will drink my entrée and bring my own damn cookies. Because getting what you didn't even know you wanted can actually be pretty great.