Orphans, Bread, and Holiday Cheer!

1. Canada, you are a drag.

This morning, on Caillou:

CAILLOU: “Does he have a family, too?”

ZOOKEEPER: “I’m afraid not. You see, his mommy died.”

Really, children’s television writers? REALLY? It wasn’t a Very Special Episode about death, it was a trip to the zoo. I was two sips into my first cup of coffee. It was not yet 7am. Why, what better time to discuss death and motherless children with my four-year-old!

(Also, why not just say “not here!” or even “no” without elaboration? If my preschooler asked a question about a baby otter’s family and some zookeeper took it upon herself to answer with a tale of maternal woe, she would be scrambling for purchase along the inside wall of the tiger pit.)

2. According to Simone, the extra cherries are hair.

This morning we went over to my mother’s to bake loaves of Schmutzli and Santa bread. You can buy these all over in Switzerland during the holidays, and Santa’s pipe and Schmutzli’s switch were saved from my mother’s last store-bought pair. Here they are before going in the oven:

And here is Schmutzli after being served for lunch alongside cheese and butter (turnabout is fair play, Schmutzli!):

3. Oh the weather outside is frightful…

We were supposed to be traveling this weekend to see my in-laws, but the forecast calls for a winter storm Saturday night, so instead we are staying home to do cozy winter things, like make cookies and finally decorate the tree. Right now it is up but bare, this hulking dark piney mass in the corner of the living room. I can’t wait to get the lights strung and watch Simone festoon approximately one third of the available arboreal real estate with ornaments.

I have surprised myself by turning into a Holiday Person over the last couple of years. I liked the holidays fine in the past, but they were just there, pleasant but generally devoid of poignancy, a few days of presents and laughing with family and drinking hot liquored things. All of which are still integral components of the holiday season, obviously, but ever since Simone became old enough to be delighted by Christmas, I’ve become someone who listens to Christmas music starting December 1st, who organizes holiday crafts and can sit gazing at the tree for a disturbingly long while. Baking, shopping for presents, drinking hot chocolate when it’s snowing and white outside…I’m gleeful, even reverent, over all of it—perhaps absurdly so, for an atheist—and this year feels more exciting than most,  because Twyla is our last baby, which means we are finally all here.


  1. Lorraine says:

    We are also finally all here, and these years with a teenager and a toddler are probably the best holiday years I (a fellow atheist) will ever have. I am cherishing them, getting all crafty and buying too much wrapping paper.

    As for the sad otter situation, all I can say is that I don’t think I can make it through Beasts of the Southern Wild even if that little girl is the most adorable thing ever. My threshhold for heart-wrenching is just incredibly low now….

  2. Kristin says:

    I came to the comments to tell you how much I loved your last line, but I see others have beaten me to it. You have an amazing way with words, lady.

  3. Kimberley B says:

    Ouch! Canadian here. Caillou is a terrible show in general, but, please, let’s not criticize an entire nation over one questionable episode of a generally crappy TV show? I mean, Canadians aren’t down on Americans despite your horrible productions of Private Practice and Long Island Medium. Just sayin’.

  4. Anne says:

    I am rolling after reading your post about the Caillou episode. I know that one. We’re big fans of Caillou at our house, but sometimes they do delve into topics that make me want to frantically wave my arms at the screen to get its attention and then make dramatic “CUT!” motions with my hand. You know the episode where Caillou wakes up crying with bad dreams about monsters? That SINGLEHANDEDLY planted a fear of monsters in my almost four-year-old, so that every night now, he asks if there will be monsters while he is sleeping. It doesn’t matter that Caillou’s daddy explained that monsters aren’t real, etc. The seed of fear was planted.

  5. Fran says:

    Oh, I know – we are neighborhood agnostics all about the holiday, as well. The kids (2 and 10) are just so excited. The little one doesn’t even relieze there are gifts involved for her. She’s going to freak (in a good way). She was a bit skittish about the tree in her house but loving it now. I plan to introduce Schmutzli to the older one later today. Prepare for historic posts page views to jump as one would be foolish not to use your interpretive wisdom.

  6. Sandra says:

    Calliou first came on the air when my 14yo son was young… my husband say it ONCE and said “We are never watching that whiny brat in this house again.” Good call, Daddy. Good call.

  7. camille says:

    Caillou is a whiny douche and our three year is always noticably unpleasant after she watches him. Poor themes and dialogue aside, that the only Asian character looks like a samuri is stereotypical at best. As expat-Canadians in the US we usuallly embrace exposing our toddlers to anything from Canada. Caillou is an exception…annoying kid, annoying family, avoid at all costs! Also, is anyone concerned that their four year old is still bald?

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