Merry Christmas – And One Woman’s New Year

Merry Christmas everyone!

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The Menace Household Christmas tree. A close look reveals a large number of robots, spaceships, and chickens.

To be honest, the responsibility of writing a post that will update on actual, factual Christmas has been weighing on me a tad – it’s a big responsibility! Plus, what’s a lady to do? I can’t give you gift suggestions – it’s already too late! Smalerie and Cartoon Sara have covered us on comics and specials pertaining to the holiday spirit. And there’s no way I can top Tiny Doom’s craft from last year!

But then I realized – beyond wishing those of you who celebrate it a joyous holiday, I don’t need to focus this post on Christmas at all! Because hot on its heels is another holiday I can help you prepare for – New Year’s Eve.

Frankly, I’m not someone who does it up big on NYE. Living near Boston, if I wanted to there are no end of parties, entertainments, and festivities that I could attend. But they’re often expensive and crowded, and the weather is typically somewhere in the ‘teens that night. So I tend to stay home with Mr. Menace and celebrate in a more quiet fashion.

So what’s required for a low-key but festive New Year?

Two words: Chex Mix.

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Hello my salty beauty.

You might have thought I was going to say champagne, but you’d be wrong, wrong, wrong – I hate champagne! Toast the death of the old year and the birth of the new with whatever you like, says I!

But hear me out on the Chex Mix thing.

I’m not talking about the pre-packaged, bagel-chip filled, over -salted monstrosity that General Mills puts out. That stuff is fine when you need an everyday snack but we are talking about a holiday here, people! We’re talking about putting in a little effort.  A little love.

We’re talking about making your dang Chex Mix from scratch like your grandma used to.Or in my case, my dad.

When I was a kid, my mother, who’s a nurse, always had to work New Year’s to make up for the fact that she took off Christmas. Since she usually worked the graveyard shift, that really meant working New Year’s Eve, so she and my dad never went to parties – she went to work, and he stayed home with us girls, which he always turned into its own kind of party. We’d have ginger ale in champagne flutes (and he’d have Asti Spumante, since he doesn’t much like champagne either) and tons of snacks, none of which was more sacred than the Chex Mix. He made it (actually, he still does) in massive quantities according to the recipe used by his aunt, Mary. Great-Aunt Mary’s recipe is fairly similar to the one they’ve been putting on the box since 1952, but with a few key variations.

First, the pretzels should be stick pretzels, not minis. This change is necessary to mesh with the other one, which is that Cheerios need to be added to the mix. Until recently, Chex and Cheerios had two different makers, so this was a rather scandalous addition, but an important one. For starters, the Cheerios suck up the butter sauce that coats the mix like nobody’s business, resulting in delightful little flavor-bombs. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, without Cheerios, what would you use as the wheels of your tiny Chex car? The pretzels are the axles, the Cheerios are the wheels, and the rest of the car can be completed with Chex and if you’re super-fancy, other snacks glued to the contraption with dip.

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Single model Chex car. If you click through to my photos you can see some variations.

Now, I can’t promise that if you make Chex Mix for your New Year’s Eve that the next year will bring you luck, wealth, or happiness – this isn’t a plate of black-eyed peas or anything. What I can promise is that your party, whether it’s just you on the couch in your PJs, or with hundreds of your closest friends in finery, will be more delicious and possibly more fun for having it. And that’s a pretty good start to any year, if you ask me.

Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years to all of you, from all of us!

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