Some “New to Me” Favorites for Christmas 2014

Christmas traditions are wonderful, but sometimes it takes something completely different to put a real holiday sparkle in your eyes. Here are some of my absolute favorites from this year…that I didn’t know existed in December 2013.

1. The Song: “Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” by the EEls

Where has this song been all my life? (“Tiny Trees” by Guster would be a close second…if my friend Felicia hadn’t put it on a Christmas 2011 mix for me. enjoy it here: 

2. The Movie: If I told you that in addition to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Love, Actually” (and “When Harry Met Sally”) and “Miracle on 34th Street” (the original) my favorite Christmas movie is a holiday horror flick from Finland, would you be surprised?

Fans of Grimm, Wallander (the BBC or the cooler Swedish series) and classic Christmas symbols (Reindeer! White Bearded Men! Seriously Amazing Handknits!) this is a must-see. We found it playing one night only at the Alamo Drafthouse…and it’s well worth hunting down.

3. The Religious: wpid-img_20141224_151316_424-1.jpg

Matthew 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

As of fall 2014, we have a new pastor at our church with the best pastoral name ever. Dr. Chappell Temple. Seriously. He’s thoughtful, extremely well-traveled & well-educated, a good speaker…and has a blog here. And although no one at our church knew that December in our household was Space month…at the Christmas Eve Children’s Service the pastoral staff dressed up to present the play “A Celestial Conversation” between Polaris, the “Lone Star,” the Hollywood Star, little Twinkle (spoiler: she ends up as the Star of Bethlehem), and Pastor Dr. Temple as the Moon. We attend every week but this certainly qualifies as one of my favorite religious moments this  year. We did rejoice with great joy to see this…wouldn’t you?

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Rev. Dr. Chappell Temple as the Moon Rev. Linda Summers Pierce as the Hollywood Star Rev. Dan Conway as the Lone Star Rev. Preston Morgan as Polaris

4. The Delicious: Have you heard of Tunis Cake? I hadn’t, until I met Tim. For years, his mum would track down a McVitties Tunis Cake or a Tunis Cake from Waitrose…and mail it to him for Christmas. To me, it tasted like a dry yellow cake with a very rich chocolate ganache on top and a trio of marzipan fruit as decoration. To Tim, it tasted like the holidays. Over the years this cake became harder and harder to track down…so it’s been at least four years since he’s had one. Jane and I scoured the internet and came up with a likely looking recipe here.wpid-img_20141224_171836_894.jpg

I did need to do some serious conversions (hello metric system, why are you so tricky for us Americans?).I also did not cook the cake for the recommended 90 minutes. Thanks to the hardcore power of my Texas stove, the Tunis cake was more than done in a mere 50 minutes. Jane handled the majority of the marzipan decorations and we have some alarming marzipan animals leftover, too. So the Tunis Cake itself is not “new-to-me” in 2014, but the making of one is.

And it was pronounced “an excellent first effort.” Then mention was made of maderia in the cake, which there wasn’t. Hmmmm perhaps a more in-depth investigation will be in the works for 2015? 

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5. The person. I saved the best for last. If things worked out in perfect alignment, my new niece for December 2014 aka Space Month would have been Stella, but she and I have known each other for years. Years and years and years. (Okay, five years, but that’s how many she has…so it’s a lifetime!)

Our “Person of the Year” for Christmas 2014 is Cora Lee.

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Isn’t she gorgeous? Also a niece (but Stella’s cousin, not her sister). Welcome, Cora! We are so excited you’re here and we know big sister Emma is taking good care of you. You are the very best that 2014 could possibly have offered and we are so blessed by your arrival!

“Love came down at Christmas; Love all lovely, love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Stars and angels gave the sign.” Christina Rossetti

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