Celebrating Christmas should be all about merriment - not about early birds and catching worms.
Last year, my family collectively came to the realization that we are not morning people and decided to do gift exchanging on Christmas Eve instead. There were no arguments, fit-throwing or headaches. It was marvelous and that is the word I'm preaching today: Christmas morning should be for sleeping in.
When I told my mother that I would be writing about Christmas Eve celebrations this week, she said, "But what about the kids?"
OBSERVER Photo by April Diodato
Celebrating Christmas should be filled with merriment and (if there are no children involved) should not involve getting up early. This is my Lola enjoying last year’s Christmas Eve celebration.
All of the good buzz about “Black Swan” is right en pointe.
"Mom, my column is not intended for children," I said. "I don't think they're going to be mixing cocktails."
One could counter that the kids on the show "Mad Men" were mixing cocktails for their parents; in the early 1960s, a child could serve as a mini-bartender for their parents and no one would bat an eyelash. Sally Draper made a mean Old Fashioned and I don't see what the harm in that is, as long as they're not sampling the sauce kids have so few responsibilities and should make themselves useful.
Anyway, I wholeheartedly believe that all children should get to experience the incomparable glee that is felt when creeping down the stairs in the wee hours of Christmas Day and seeing the bounty of gifts that Santa Claus has delivered, waiting underneath the Christmas tree. But when there are no children involved, getting up early on Christmas just seems senseless. There is likely an impending holiday gathering (perhaps with traveling involved), tensions are high and no one is camera-ready.
"Why didn't we do this sooner?" I asked.
My family helpfully reminded me that it was me, and me alone, standing in the way of rescheduling our Christmas celebration because I didn't want to ruin tradition. Because that's another integral part of Christmas: giving credit where it's due.
Cheers and Merry Christmas, one and all!
WHAT REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS
I've done some antiquing all throughout the greater Western New York region as part of my Christmas shopping and I have some complaints. I've found that some antique stores' hours of operation are "by chance or appointment." I want to buy your wares. You presumably wish to turn a profit. Take those two ideas and fuse them together. Logical conclusion: be available to your patrons.
I've also noticed that antique proprietors are either super-helpful and friendly or are inexplicably nasty, like a troll guarding a bridge. What gives?
It is winter and it is award season, so all of the good movies are coming out now. As I attempt to do each year, it is my goal to see all of the nominees. I got a jump start within the last week.
The gist: A ballerina unravels as she pushes herself to the limit (and beyond) in preparation for her role in her company's production of "Swan Lake."
The verdict: A near-perfect horror movie that should sweep the awards this year. Darren Aronofsky captures the isolation and the descent into insanity that comes with a quest for perfection.
Ingredients: "The Turning Point," Roman Polanski's "Repulsion," the psychotic mother from "Carrie," and a pinch of Dario Argento's "Suspiria."
Who should see it: Perfectionists; fans of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in what might be their best performances to date.
Who shouldn't: People who don't like good movies; the squeamish.
"Black Swan" isn't playing in the Dunkirk area but is now showing at the Regal Quaker Crossings, the Regal at the Galleria Mall, the Eastern Hills Mall Cinema, which has phenomenal popcorn, and a few other theaters in the Buffalo area.
The gist: A boxer struggles to reach his full potential, spending more time fighting the influence of his problematic family.
The verdict: A gritty and raw account of Micky Ward's (Mark Wahlberg) hard-fought journey to the Welterweight Championship, with some moments that are touching, amusing and hard to watch. It's just as much about Micky as it is about his brother's decline; Christian Bale completely transforms himself for his role as Dicky Ward, a former boxer turned trainer.
Ingredients: "Rocky," "The Wrestler," A&E's show "Intervention"
Who should see it: Fans of inspirational sports films, without the glitz and glamour; guys who are really into ladies with mall hair, ill-fitting pants and wicked nicotine habits.
Who shouldn't: Anyone who might find it difficult to see a realistic portrayal of addiction.
"The Fighter" is showing at the Dunkirk Movieplex.
DRINK OF THE WEEK
I personally find eggnog to be gross but for everyone who doesn't, here's a drink that includes the stuff before it's taken off the shelves for the season.
The "White Christmas" includes 4 oz. eggnog, a 1/2 oz. white chocolate liqueur and 1 oz. Southern Comfort. Mix and serve with chocolate flakes on top.
And for everyone else who is also grossed out by eggnog, here's one free of nog called "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" you'll need 1 1/4 oz. light rum, 1 1/2 oz. lemon juice, 1/2 oz. grenadine, and cranberry juice. Mix the first three ingredients, add ice cubes and add cranberry juice to taste.
Both of these cocktail recipes were found thanks to help from Google.
"My Strange Addiction" premieres on TLC Wednesday, Dec. 29 on TLC.
April Diodato is the OBSERVER Lifestyles editor. Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org