Blogger's Note: This is the only family Christmas letter I ever wrote where I actually received requests for copies from people I didn't even know. Apparently fudge sees a lot of folks through those tough holiday patches. Being both a humanitarian and a religiously devoted fan of fudge, I'm reprinting it for the world at large. Meaning, of course, the roughly seven people who read my blog...
While I agree that, through most of the year, a sugary treat like fudge is a junk-food luxury in which to indulge sparingly, at Christmas time I firmly believe that fudge becomes an essential, almost medicinal tool in surviving the holiday craziness. So, this year I present you with my recipe for saving your sanity, as well as an Advent Calendar of sorts, celebrating 25 perfectly good reasons to have marshmallow fudge available at all times.
"Migraines (reverse R) Us" promised a towering supply of the one Lego set on which your son has pinned all his Christmas hopes and dreams. But despite your having arrived three hours before the store opened, the only item remaining in stock is a long metal peg with a price tag and a "sold out" sign taped to the end. The fudge, in this case, may be launched from the Lego Catapult (Castle Collection, item #8114) directly onto the assistant manager's windshield. It's a '92 Honda Civic, parked in a space marked "Obstructionist People Hater of the Month". He's won 35 consecutive awards; one more and he gets the coveted blue vest bearing the invitation to "Ask Me For Help So I Can Smack You Upside the Head". This is true no matter which "Migraines (reverse R) Us" you're patronizing.
It's only the 2nd day of December, but you've already watched "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer" 43 times without going bonkers when they change the dentist-elf's name from "Herbie" to "Hermie" and back again. Couldn't anyone read a script in the 60's?? (Eat the fudge straight out of the pan for this one; you've earned it.)
Today, that ONE Christmas letter arrived, the one everyone gets, from that ONE family that is so peculiar their kids should just marry each other and be done with it. The letter always opens with something like, "This year Buffy discovered a natural gift for the theatrical arts." Everyone knows, of course, that this really means old Buffy is the butter girl at the popcorn counter at the local Cinemax 64. Eat six pieces of fudge, each one celebrating the glorious averageness of your own clan of knuckleheads.
Tonight was the church Christmas party, which allowed the prepared to test the endurance of their Valium. Of course the kids maintained the sacred holiday tradition of vandalizing the chapel and somehow managing to get green Jell-O INSIDE the basketball net, and then griping all the way home that Santa was really Brother Knoppfler because only Brother Knoppfler has breath that smells like the time you left milk on the counter and then went on vacation for two weeks. Put the little whiners to bed and take half a pound of fudge with you to the tub.
Today, a whole flock of Christmas cards arrived from distant loved ones! You can't wait to hear how they're doing, what their kids are up to, their ups and downs, joys and sorrows, the sharing of which keeps us close even when the miles and busyness of our lives drive us apart. Sadly, it turns out that each card is merely a photo and a neutral, pre-printed sentiment like "Glad That's Out of the Way. Signed, The Wehateyou Family". Heavy sigh, and pass the fudge.
Tonight, you introduced friends to "A Christmas Story", quite possibly the finest holiday entertainment since the angels did their live concert for the shepherds. However, when it was over, your friends' assessment of this classic was, "We hated when that kid stuck his tongue to the flag pole." While you stood in stunned amazement at how such seemingly normal people could have such appalling taste in movies, they went on to defend that wretched movie starring Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sinbad as being "second only to 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' in artistic significance and cinematic brilliance". These people wouldn't appreciate fudge anyway. You'll be giving them a couple of stale carob bars and a copy of "Elf" on VHS for Christmas.
And speaking of "A Christmas Story", you get three pieces of fudge every time you sing "Fa-ra-ra-ra-raaaaa-ra-ra-ra-raaaa!"
You're preparing roughly 1,739 "plates o' goodies" to distribute to the neighbors, who will return the favor by reporting you to the Homeowners' Association when your kids' basketball hoop remains in the driveway longer than 2 1/2 minutes. (You may want the dog to deliver the 'fudge' to some of the more cantankerous residents, although you'll very conscientiously keep her on a leash as per H.A. Regulation 436692 sub-paragraph Q line-item twelve "Domestic Animal Restraint Constraints", because you know the rules are there to benefit all of us.)
You attended the Middle School Orchestra Christmas Concert tonight. In this case, it made the most sense to simply jam the fudge directly into your ear canal. Even if the fudge contained big walnut chunks, it was still more pleasant than actually listening to the performance. Middle School Orchestra Concerts are reportedly being used as interrogation tools in the fight against terrorism. ("Tell us where Bin Laden is, or we'll play 'Sleigh Ride' again!! Don't think we won't!!")
You get a whole pound of fudge if you resist the urge to drive your SUV through the neighbors' inflatable SpongeBob Santa. Two pounds if you don't.
The guy across the street, the one who doesn't celebrate Hallowe'en because it's a sinful, pagan holiday rife with overtones of death and mayhem (and who clearly has not read the fine print on the ancient rites of winter solstice which are the embarrassing ancestors of our own Christmas celebration) has rented a cherry picker from which to string nearly 17,000 lights and assorted holiday icons from every square inch of his house, yard, and children. This has annoyed your husband, who was hoping to get away with plunking a Santa hat on the front porch light and calling it festive, but is now feeling those inconvenient stirrings of "Quien es Mas Macho", and is checking with NASA to see if they have an extra shuttle he could mount on the roof behind the eight live reindeer he's having FedExed from Lapland. Pull out a couple of lawn chairs for you and the neighbor's wife, break out the fudge, and watch the magic unfold. (Keep the Bactine and rappelling gear handy.)
(More tomorrow! And I'll include my recipe for Marshmallow Fudge at the end!)