Chernobyl for Christmas

Still from HBO’s Chernobyl Docudrama

No this isn’t about the war in Ukraine although I trust Ukraine over Russia when it comes to managing the site. No, this is about my family’s choice of Christmas viewing.

Christmas Day conversation revolved around 9/11 and the survivors and the physical toll on them. That led to talking about the HBO docudrama on Chernobyl.

So Boxing Day we’re all watching Chernobyl because that’s how we roll. And that led to some Google for history and where are they now answers and did you know that more people died in the holiday snow storm in New York than the Russians and therefore the UN admit were killed by Chernobyl? The official death toll for the nuclear accident is 31.

This led to a discussion of what happens when society conditions you to believe that lies are truth. And both sides of the political aisle are guilty of misusing opinion as facts. Try looking to see where the often quoted statistic about 50% of marriages end in divorce came from you’ll find it’s an estimate not actual data. (Latest estimate is that almost 60% of first marriages will last until death parts them, it’s the 2nd and additional after that that skews the data up to over half of marriages fail).

But back to Chernobyl – the scene that hit many of us hardest was the “it can’t be graphite, you must be mistaken” and the one where it’s pointed out that 3.5 is the maximum reading their detectors can register. People are willing to accept misinformation if it fits their narrative. It’s how we start believing social media is reality even if real life doesn’t match the screen.

So ask yourself – what beliefs am I looking to support when reality doesn’t match? What facts and reality am I ignoring in order to support my beliefs? Are there any beliefs I hold that should be re-examined given the reality happening outside of my screen?

Just a random thought

And totally out of season.

If the Third Reich hadn’t committed the holocaust, how long would eugenics have continued to be popular in the rest of the Western world?

How did Covid change Christmas for you?

With the lockdowns and illnesses, supply chain changes and resulting inflation, has anything changed in your Christmas traditions?

During 2020 the last of our kids moved out (L is back though as mortgages in Utah are less than rent in California) and we scaled back the decorating as no one would be coming to visit the house.

I moved from 3 trees visible from the street to a single tree. The hardest of the old trees to give up was the one that had graced my father’s company lobby and my house for 20+ years but let’s face it, it was showing it’s age. The stand had broken and it never really fit right anyway so the tree always leaned to one side or the other but oddly it was a happy connection to my extended family. I guess that really sums up my family relationship. My happy memories are working for my father. Sadly, his memory is not that I was an integral part of the family business but he was “helping me” by letting me have a secretarial job. For those that don’t know, I never was a secretary. When I explained my week to the MBA entrance board they said that what I did was director level at least and more accurately described as a VP of operations.

But I digress. In 2020 we went to a single tree and it was white – and then after Christmas we took off the ornaments and put on New Years decorations (including a Hat, blower noisemakers and a Welcome 2021 banner). February was Valentines, March – shamrocks and green tinsel for St. Patricks Day. April was Easter, Mother’s Day in May covered it in flowers. July was Red, white and blue, followed by pencils, crayons and rulers for back to school and then my stitched Halloween ornaments.

Following Halloween it was donated to the thrift store so we could make space for a genuine Stickley couch that we got at a bargain price. And we got a tiny tree for 2021. This year the 3 foot tree is back sitting on the chess table. And on Dec 18 it’s the only decoration besides my Mirabilia Christmas Elf. That’s right, I haven’t gotten out the boxes of tinsel and wrapping, of bells and the giant Santa poster, there is no garland on my stair rails.

I’m also seeing less of the holiday baking pictures on my social media. Did we all switch from Instagram and Facebook to somewhere else? I’m not a TikTok fan and it’s actually not suggested based on my new job in Cybersecurity. Or are people not baking this year?

I have had more Christmas parties this year than in the last two years but that’s because my new employer had a party and my old employer didn’t believe in spending money on holiday parties (waste of tax dollars). And with DH volunteering, we were invited to a volunteer appreciation party (with a drawing for gifts). If there are any extended family parties this year, I haven’t been invited to them. But if it’s true to form, some evening soon I’ll get a phone call asking, “Why aren’t you here?” To which the canned response is “Where is here and when did you tell me about it?” Then I will be told the location where I’m supposed to be and the event (that I was also not invited to) where plans were made and everyone notified by iPhone. (I’m an Android user and for some reason never get the group texts sent by iMessage).

For those thinking I sound really grinch and should get out and do things for other people. Yes, I probably should. That would maybe help me get more in the Christmas spirit. But today, I’ve sat in the front room working on a piece I’ve barely stitched on all year and listened to Christmas music in order to catch the feeling and I’m just not in the mood to leave the house at all. Maybe that’s the biggest change for me, after a year of hunkering down at home, I still haven’t figured out how to restart my extrovert. This ambivert is reveling in the solitude of just those close to me around. I know I would probably be energized by groups of people but it sounds like so much work to put on actual clothes instead of sweats and pajama pants.

Maybe I’ll just tuck into a Hallmark movie or a good Christmas book instead?

Comfort Food

I haven’t seen as many posts about cookie baking this year as I usually do around the holidays. Maybe it’s the algorithm that social media has forced on me but again it could be the inflationary cost of sugar and the lack of decent butter. I know that I had to resort to Amazon to get the candied fruit for my dad’s annual “applesauce cake” (we can’t call it fruitcake, it’s an applesauce cake because nobody would eat a fruitcake).

Around the holidays there are comfort foods that I make and long for – Mimi’s cookies (which I make with butter not Crisco). Mama’s Peppermint Marshmallow Pie that no one else likes so I don’t make it anymore.

My husband wants to make a proper Victorian mincemeat if he can source suet.

Thanksgiving this year made me realize that turkey soup is a comfort food. I’m not even talking good turkey soup. I’m talking the over cooked bone broth, mushy potatoes and carrots that Mama used to make. That and the turkey sandwiches with Miracle Whip and cranberry sauce that my dad did before becoming vegetarian. Although Miracle Whip doesn’t have the same texture it did when I was a child. Something in it has changed it’s more goopy and sticky, not as smooth.

I remember someone telling me that tomato soup and grilled cheese was a comfort food because their father would never let them eat it. They only had it when they were home alone with mom. As an adult she once asked her father why he wouldn’t let them eat it. To him it was poverty food and reminded him of growing up with nothing else available for supper. He had determined to always provide better for his family. Knowing that about her dad made it even more comforting.

The two meals that my grandfather would never allow served were stuffed bell peppers and Navy bean soup. He said bell peppers gave him gas and he had eaten a lifetime’s worth of bean soup in the Navy and he never wanted to eat it again.

Speaking of never eating something because of the military, my husband came back from TDY and announced that there would never be Chicken ala King on our table. For 2 weeks straight 3 meals a day his unit had been served the Chicken ala King MRE. If he never ate it again it would be too soon. So I have never fixed chicken ala King for my kids.

Just so you know, some of the other comfort meals for me are corned beef or tuna gravy (commonly known as S**t on a shingle), creamed peas and potatoes, mujadara, and S&B Mild Curry Roux with potatoes, carrots and peas over rice.

As long as the mujadara is eaten with rice, they’re all high carb foods which makes sense as carbs help the brain release serotonin and that makes you feel better. Do you have any comfort foods that aren’t heavy in carbs? What are they?