…and clearly it’s time to see a heartwarming and cinematic 4-minute ad for Norway Post about Santa finally finding love. (Bonus: Show it to your super-conservative extended family if you see them for Christmas and watch their heads explode.)
(via my friend Mike)
1. Today is my last workday and then the agency is closed until 2021. I’m going to sew a coat and eat a lot of cookies and not post anything, so here’s some things to read until then.
2. Watch this before it gets taken down: The full 1986 special “A Muppet Family Christmas.” I didn’t see it in 1986 and it wasn’t even on my radar until I read this Paste Magazine article about it (which includes the best summary of the Muppets ever: “The variety show icons remain, at their purest, a family of co-dependent anarchists”). We watched it last week and I nearly died from happy nostalgia–the Muppet Show cast! The Sesame Street cast! The Muppet Babies! The Fraggles!!
3. If you think about it, training an AI to do classical voice leading makes sense. Blob Opera from Google Arts & Culture is a lot of fun (and can play Christmas carols if you want, too).
4. Don’t fall for any articles coming up about how productive people were in 2020. We went through a pandemic that didn’t have to be this bad and oh, also an attempted coup and a whole bunch of other rage-inducing stuff, on top of whatever we were dealing with personally. As Anne Helen Petersen says:
“Whatever you’ve done this year in your personal or professional life, it’s enough. […] You are beloved and worthy of rest. Not because of your capacity to work, or your relative capacity to subsist on fumes. You are beloved and worthy of rest because you are human, not a robot. This year has emptied us. Give yourself permission to continue to seek fullness.”
5. And finally, even in a year that wasn’t full of exceptions, every single one of them bad, Christmas is hard for a lot of people. Maybe it’s bad memories of early family trauma. Maybe it’s missing someone who isn’t here now. Maybe it’s thinking, like Charlie Brown, “I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” Guess what? Whatever you are feeling is how you’re supposed to feel. Feelings are just feedback, like being cold or hungry. So be nice to yourself. Listen to that feedback. Do you need to not do that holiday thing that makes you feel bad? Don’t do it! I, a person on the internet, give you permission to feel and do what you need, rather than what you think you “should,” this Christmas (and always).
My work is doing an ornament exchange-by-mail and, in a moment of being a team player, I signed up for it. The company is small enough at this point that I thought I’d get someone I knew pretty well, but no, I got the one person I almost never work with.
So, I broke out the felt and made a generic tree. Everyone likes trees, right?
I forget how fun it is to play with felt–I just found an image I liked on the internet and then layered the felt as I went. I was able to use the embroidery stitches on my machine for the first time, too.
The felt was all leftover from the stockings I made my brother’s family back in 2014 and I just threw this in an envelope with a couple stamps for mailing, so it was a zero-cost project. Not bad for some (grudging) team player holiday spirit.
This seems appropriate to the season and today’s weather:
by Bernard O’Donoghue
Despite the forecast’s promise,
It didn’t snow that night;
But in the morning, flakes began
To glide all right.
Not enough to cover roads
Or even hide the grass;
But enough to change the light.
I remember the Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar a little late every year, but I do remember it. Head over to The Atlantic to see a photo from Hubble every day and get some good perspective.
“This galaxy, known as NGC 1032, is located about a hundred million light years away in the constellation Cetus. This view is looking right at the edge of what is actually a spectacular spiral galaxy, with a broad disc of gas and dust dimming some of the light of its many stars along the middle.”
I ordered a bûche de noel for Christmas Eve dessert with Matt’s family. Normally I make something fancy but my heart just wasn’t in it this year, so I decided to make it easy on myself. I was so pleased picking up the bakery box the morning of–until I got home and saw the 16″ log had cracked in transit:
Not gonna lie, that was the nadir of the season for me. My attempt at a new tradition didn’t work; nothing worked; Mom wasn’t here; she was never going to be here again; why bother with any of it?
I just walked away and was sad for the day until about 15 minutes before we left for dinner. Then I thought, “I bet I can push this together and smear some frosting over it,” and reader, it worked:
As a metaphor for the first holiday season without Mom, I’ll take it.We were broken but we pulled it together. And we filled the cracks with frosting.
I got a cold in my nose for Christmas but my sickbed was very festive, Toby didn’t leave my side, and the celebrations and thoughtful presents were still wonderful.
I’m a few days late to the party, but The Atlantic is hosting Alan Taylor’s 11th annual Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar, a favorite around here. I used to talk about space a lot more, but things like this still get me (those are all mostly galaxies):
And via Kottke, I found A Christmas Movie A Day, which so far has featured great writing, old movies I want to add to my list (and also Batman Returns), and this gif of Katherine Hepburn dancing to bongos: