Pretend Villages and Free Cookies
by Nicole Freire
Merry Christmas from the Snow Village at Chez Freire!
This little village, while being incredibly cute, is not something I ever thought I would own. I used to think it fell squarely into kitschy land until I had one of my own. Please note that I won this charming snow village in a drawing, the kind where you fill out your name 25 times on teeny cardboard tickets and stick them all into a coffee can covered in holiday gift wrap.
But my ticket was drawn, my name was called and now I own two houses, one brownstone-type building, and three ceramic trees with fake snow on them and did I mention that they all light up? They do! And not just plain old white lights, no, my houses have colored lights that blink on and off, and I think there may be some fiber optic ones in there too.
When we set up the village, we add some other small (fake) trees to the scene. To give the illusion of rolling hills (our village is placed somewhere in the Alps I think) we stack up our dictionaries and the Norton Anthologies I used in college. Then we take a strand of white lights, wind them around the stacks of books and then cover the whole underground with some white cotton fabric.
Then we place the houses and the little trees on the fabric, plug the whole shebang into a power strip and sit on the couch and admire our handiwork.
This is about as Christmassy (is that a real word?) as I can get this year. We did pull out the big Rubbermaid plastic boxes that have our collection of Christmas books, the Christmas cd's and our copy of "A Christmas Story". But that's it. I just do not have the energy to pull out the fake Christmas tree and the 8 boxes of ornaments and set it all up. And real trees are lovely, but even a small one costs money.
With my husband out of work and the economy scaring me, I just cannot summon the energy to do all the usual holiday things. In fact, not five minutes after we found out that my husband lost his job, I thought to myself, "Hey! Here's my excuse not to do Christmas cards this year!" I will not be forcing my family to sit still for photos and I will not be sending them out to everyone in my address book.
But we are still knee-deep in cookies here at Chez Freire. So far we have made six (6!) batches of gingersnaps and four batches of shortbread. And this week, while my children are home for winter break and get to spend unexpected time with Dad, I expect even more cookies to be produced in big batches, because while we were able to give cookies to everyone at my daughter's school, there is still Crisco and sugar aplenty and many more cookies to be made before we sleep.
And as far as Christmas trees go, we'll be at my folks for the holidays, so this is the part where I remind my mom that SHE has to put up her fake tree and get out the ornaments (make Dad help you with this, Mom!).
We will still have gifts under the tree, many of them handmade or purchased months ago, before the big unemployment news hit our family and since we'll be at my parents, my father will work hard to ensure that nobody will go hungry, even for five minutes.
Christmas will still be Christmas at Chez Freire. Some things never change, even without a fake tree laden with ornaments. We have family and friends and good health.
We also have cookies. And because we have cookies, we want to share them with you.
Leave a message in the comments about your favorite part of the holiday. I'll put all your names into a coffee can (ok, not a coffee can, but we do have a big oatmeal can) and have my kids blindly reach in and choose a lucky Edhat reader.
The lucky winner will receive one batch of gingersnap cookies and one batch of shortbread cookies, festively packed into red glittery plastic tubs, which were on sale at Vons.
The cookies in their plastic tubs will be delivered by yours truly, your favorite Wednesday columnist. I will even wear a Santa hat when I deliver them, because this is the only time of year where you can wear a furry red and white hat and no one will think it odd.
And sorry out of town readers, this cookie offer only applies to denizens of Santa Barbara and Goleta. Ok, Montecito too, but that's as far as I'm willing to drive.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.