Christmas is a challenge.
There’s people to see, things to bake and sweets to eat.
It’s expensive and with highway closures left, right and centre, it can be difficult to travel. Yet, there’s magic.
Each year, my friend Kristina and I have Christmas challenges.
We come up with six different tasks each and have from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24 to complete them.
This is our tradition’s fifth year.
The tasks have varied from building gingerbread houses (mine looked like it had suffered a house fire) to knitting graffiti and writing personal ads in the local newspaper.
For the latter, since the task didn’t specify the ad had to be me, I did one for Petunia, my 23-year-old sourdough starter. It read: “Food is everything to me.”
The photo was her on a road trip, buckled in with sunglasses and a cap. She got no inquires. Perhaps it was the line, “gassy after eating” that scared them off.
Kristina, on the other hand, wrote a personal ad in a Saskatchewan paper, seeking a man that knew the words to Kenny Rogers’ song The Gambler, owned a onesie and was a smooth talker.
Several days later, she had a phone call from the Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary.
An inmate had seen the ad and was interested. Needless to say, he knew the song, was in an orange prison onesie and Kristina confirmed he was indeed a smooth talker.
The conversation never went beyond the one phone call, but Kristina got to chat with someone new.
Some tasks in the past are downright embarrassing, such as ski to the post office to mail letters, which wouldn’t be bad if there had been snow.
I’m still waiting for a reply. Hopefully, they’re just lost in the mail.
Another awkward one was eating a dinner in a restaurant. Blindfolded.
The tasks aren’t always Christmas-themed, which annoys my friends. They did in the early years and then something happened. I don’t know what, but something.
This year, the challenges include to make a Christmas wreath, sabre a bottle, bake something from a television show, make a statue (medium of choice), create a snow globe, recite a two-minute poem (I’m currently practicing Casabianca by Felicia Hemans), do a five-minute presentation on a random topic, paint and decorate eggs, make a pair of our own underwear and wear them (for some stupid reason I made a pair out of fruit roll ups. Lets just say if this whole journalism thing doesn’t pan out, I don’t think a career in undergarments is a viable option), wear a mask to an event, make a 100-foot hopscotch and hide a treasure and make a map for it.
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Christmas Challenge #1. Making something from the television. This is chocolate babka from @seinfeldtv episode 77 “The Dinner Party”, when the bakery Elaine and Jerry go to sell out of chocolate babka and they buy cinnamon, which Elaine calls “lesser babka”. I could not do lesser, so chocolate it is. I’ve always wanted to make it. I always though it was cake, but alas! It’s a brioche dough! It’s much easier making brioche with @kitchenaid_ca mixer than by hand like on @cbcbakingshow. My gosh. #greatcanadianbakingshow #brioche #babka #housespellsyummy #isitcake #orisitbread
So far, I’ve only completed three. I’m behind.
If I don’t finish before the end of Dec. 24, I’ll have to refer to Kristina as Your Majesty for a year and present a monthly tithe. That. Cannot. Happen.
Yes Christmas is challenging. Yes, these tasks don’t make it easier.
But, they’re fun and an excuse to try something new. Christmas is about traditions and these challenges are one of mine.