Christmas Favorites: Part I
At this particular moment, I am fighting the urge to begin this entry with a cliché lyric from a very popular Christmas carol. I will not promise that it won’t sneak in somehow, but for now… The coast is clear. Since it is Christmas, I decided it would be fitting to write about my most favorite parts of the season. Of course when someone asks you what your favorite aspects of the holiday are, you are supposed to be politically correct and respond “Spending time with friends and family.” Yeah, yeah… I get it. However, I will be sharing my favorite music, food, movies, and books instead. Being politically incorrect can be fun.
As I write this, I am enjoying my third serving of peppermint tea for the day and listening to my Christmas playlist containing my favorite songs. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the only light filling the room are all of the tiny bulbs adorning the Christmas trees (there are two in this room alone) and garland lining the mantle and doorway. Given the Christmas ambiance I am surrounding myself with, part one of my Christmas favorites will be covering foods and drinks as well as music.
Every holiday is guilty of associating itself with certain foods and drinks. Christmas is no exception. As Christmas nears every year, I suddenly find myself craving certain things. At the top of this list is peppermint. Honestly I could care less how I get it, I just need it. As I said before, I’m now on my third fourth cup of peppermint tea for the day, but no worries, having no calories or caffeine helps to alleviate the feeling of guilt. My brand of choice is Celestial, which is nice since its extremely easy to come by and only costs about $2.50 for twenty tea bags. Can’t beat that! Keeping with the drinks, hot chocolate is an obvious favorite for everyone, myself included. However, I challenge everyone to spice it up a bit! Predictably, I recommend peppermint hot chocolate. This can be achieved simply by buying peppermint syrup at the grocery to add to regular hot chocolate. Simple and delicious. For those looking to try something very different, I suggest trying the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Starbucks. Sure, it may sound like a mouthful, but trust me when I tell you to go ahead and order a venti.
Leaving drinks and moving into food candy, my weakness is peppermint bark. Shocked? Didn’t think so. Homemade peppermint bark is delicious, but I have a soft spot for Ghirardelli’s take on peppermint bark. It is simply perfect. Also equally enjoyable are candy cane flavored Hershey Kisses. You’re welcome. My last favorite candy is a reasonably new discovery: red velvet cake balls. Delicious. To say more would ruin the effect. Only three things are needed: red velvet cake mix, cream cheese icing, and white chocolate. Once again, you’re welcome.
Without music, Christmas just isn’t the same. There is just something about a Christmas carol that will put you directly into the Christmas spirit within minutes. Being a child of the nineties, I have a soft spot for awful pop-Christmas songs. Specifically Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by *NSYNC, My Only Wish (This Year) by Britney Spears, and All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey. Now that I’ve admitted my love for pop-Christmas music, you can imagine my excitement when Michael Bublé released Christmas this year with All I Want for Christmas Is You. Though I love this rendition, other stand-out songs on the album include Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. The whole album is amazing as was his EP, Let It Snow released a few years back. On this five track EP, the two best performances can be found in I’ll Be Home for Christmas and Grown-Up Christmas List though all of the songs are worth listening to multiple times through the season.
Straight No Chaser provided me with yet another Christmas CD to love following their release of Holiday Spirits in 2008. Christmas Cheers arrived in 2009 and it has a studio version of their popular rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas as well as one of my favorite versions of Let It Snow. Both albums offer a cappella twists to Christmas classics and remain perennial favorites.
Since I’ve recommended Christmas tunes dabbling in jazz influences, pure pop, and a cappella, it is only fair to throw in some alternative Christmas songs for good measure. For this, my favorite is The O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah. This album consists of eight songs by various artists featured on The O.C. during the Chrismukkah (a Christmas-Hanukkah hybrid) episode. My two favorites are Last Christmas by Jimmy Eat World and Maybe This Christmas by Ron Sexsmith. Maybe This Christmas provides a darker take on Christmas illustrating the hope that this Christmas will be better than years past. Last Christmas is the song we all know, made famous by WHAM!
I won’t mention all of the classic Christmas songs we have all grown up with such as Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Jingle Bell Rock, but of course I love them as well. What the most important thing about Christmas to remember while you enjoy a mug of peppermint tea while listening to Michael Bublé is: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Oops… It sneaked in.