I love Christmas. I really do. I enjoy almost everything about it. But it’s around this time every year that I begin to have panic attacks. These attacks usually take the form of one of two voices in my head. During the day the voice sounds kind of like a Jewish mother: “You’ll never lose weight if you eat as much as the whole city of Minsk.” “What? Your parents are such a black hole of doom that you have to move 600 miles away from them?” and “Don’t talk to me like that, you ungrateful child.” Annoying, but manageable.
It’s at night that the voice in my head takes on a more sinister aspect. It sounds sort of like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” but without all the warmth and charm. “You will never pay off your QVC bill, you pathetic jewelry addict.” “You know you can wear your stomach as kilt, don’t you, slob girl?” “Your liver/kidneys/heart/whatever will explode if you don’t get up off your fat ass and exercise.” It would be helpful if the voices could just stay focused on one of my shortcomings at a time rather than highlighting them all at once.
Why now at this festive season should I suffer such anxiety? Do I not suck the other 11 months of the year? Of course, I do! So, what’s causing this December existential crisis? Buying Christmas presents.
I am embarrassed to admit it, but I truly hate the whole present-buying nightmare. Here’s where you, my vast reading audience of two, find out what a horrible person I really am (although I’m sure you already had your suspicions). I simply can’t get excited about buying presents for people who don’t need anything. There. I’ve said it.
While I really do love my gift recipients, none of them need anything. At this point, they either need money, youth, or health—none of which I am able to dispense with any degree of success—or they already have everything on the planet. To be fair, I don’t need anything either (unless it’s a David Yurman cable bracelet with smoky topaz cabochons) and I’d rather have folks donate money to the SPCA.
I suppose some of my crankiness stems from the realization that I have once again screwed up my Christmas club account at the bank and have unwittingly been draining it of funds to pay for pizza and Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Hey, I never said I was a math whiz. But the end result is the same: either I supplement my Christmas funds with grocery money or a credit card. Great. We don’t eat now or we don’t eat later.
Now, there are those of you who would simply say, “Just tell them you won’t be giving presents this year.” Or, “Oh, it’s the thought that counts. Just make them something.” Uh huh. Those of you who have been stiffed on the 25th or have been the recipient of one too many hand-made potholders will understand the flaws in those tactics.
So, until that last present gets wrapped, I have either “Aunt Sadie” or “Linda Blair” in my head regaling me with tales of my own worthlessness. Maybe they wouldn’t kvetch at me so much if they ate today’s recipe.
This one was sent to me by my oldest friend, Wade. We’ve known each other since 1969 and he’s never steered me wrong once. Serve this with, well, pretty much anything.
Roasted Yukon Potatoes
6 to 8 medium (about 1 ½ lbs.) Yukon gold potatoes, cut into wedges
8 cloves garlic, left in their skins
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss the potatoes, garlic, and rosemary with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange potatoes cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast until fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.