Good Monday Morning, friends, and welcome to the last Jolly Monday post of 2017. Next Monday will be Christmas, and I expect to be otherwise occupied, and so, I’m certain, will you. So we will celebrate the holiday together today. I won’t ask how your weekend was, for if it was anything like mine, it was busier than you might have liked, and you are now looking at your bank balance and scratching your head, looking at the mound of gifts in the closet to be wrapped, and scratching your head some more, and asking yourself how in heck all this stuff is going to get accomplished in under a week. Take heart, for you did it last year, the year before, the year before that, and every year since you reached the age of consent, so it will get done this year too. And what doesn’t get done, for there are always a few things that don’t, isn’t that important anyway and you won’t even remember it by next year. We set our own selves up for this every year, so we have only ourselves to blame. Might as well laugh about it, yes?
And now, let us enjoy a few special moments together before we all enter that last minute fray, let us have a few moments of peace, a chuckle or two, and a nice warm beverage (sorry Steve, I just didn’t have time to bake goodies this morning) to begin this week, shall we?
The Cow Who Didn’t Believe in Christmas
Not everyone likes nativity scenes, probably least of all any live animals involved. A cow named Storming recently hoofed it from a Philadelphia church’s long-running seasonal nativity scene. She escaped from her holding pen and took to the streets before police were able to round her up and return her. But you can’t keep a good cow down, and she escaped again just hours later, essentially dragging the pastor into a nearby parking garage as he tried to lead her back. Of course Storming was once again returned to her pen, but maybe it’s time to give her what she so desperately wants this Christmas: FREEDOM!
A Life-Sized Gingerbread House
Gingerbread houses tend to be associated with either the holidays or the gruesome story of Hansel and Gretel. If the fairytale witch of lore left her forest cottage for the city, she might build a house such as the one displayed in the Fairmont San Francisco hotel’s lobby, most of which is edible.
Every Christmas, the hotel’s engineering and culinary departments team up to produce a building on a Hansel and Gretel scale. Flat gingerbread bricks line the house’s facade, and smaller pieces curve to line the windows. Each brick is attached with snow-white royal icing. The hotel’s culinary team also uses the icing to pipe in the cracks between bricks, sealing them firmly together. This sweet cement is made of egg whites, vinegar, and sugar.
The house’s entire footprint is thirty-five by ten-and-a-half feet, and it’s 25 feet tall. The bottom floor has a a toy-filled workshop, where children (and the occasional adult) press their faces against the glass for a look inside. Another nook houses a six-foot tall nutcracker. The second floor is off limits to visitors, but features a spinning Christmas tree. Modeled after one of San Francisco’s Painted Lady Victorian homes, it’s a structure that visitors can both wander through and peer into.
For the last five years, the gingerbread and candy has decorated an ever-expanding wooden frame. Each year, the candy covers a new (and larger) layer of Masonite siding. Though competitive gingerbread house makers and purists might object to non-edible substances being used, it’s necessary to support the combined weight of 10,250 gingerbread bricks, 3,300 pounds of icing, and 1,650 pounds of candy.
This is executive chef Oscar Gonzales’s second year working on the house, and chief engineer Richard David’s fourth. It started out small, Davis says. Its first iteration was as a display surrounding the entryway to the hotel’s Laurel Court restaurant. Since then, the house has expanded each year. The most recent addition is a dining room for 12 guests.
OH WOE … Those Tangled Lights
Folks seem so flummoxed by their knotted piles of holiday lights that a Tesco supermarket is launching the UK’s first ever Christmas light untangling service—and currently hiring for the position.
While it is too late to apply for the job this year, exceptionally gifted cord untanglers should keep the job posting in mind for next year. (I won’t bother to apply, for I cannot even keep my headphone cord untangled!) Job description details for Tesco’s designated “Christmas Light Untangler” are provided on the careers page of the British grocery chain.
“Located in Wrexham, Wales, the part-time position offers a “competitive salary” and a 36-hour week.
Responsibilities include manning and managing the Christmas Lights Untangling stand as well as being knowledgable about the service being offered. The ideal candidate should be able to untangle three meters of Christmas lights in under three minutes. They should also be passionate about Christmas.”
If you can’t afford a Christmas Light Untangler, online detangling tutorials might be able to help. Either way, the most important thing to remember when untangling lights is to put on your favorite holiday music and pull up your comfiest armchair.
Looks like demand for this service extends far beyond Wrexham. Take television chef Rachel Ray, who recently admitted (while revealing a fantastic Christmas light trick) that she’s gotten so frustrated with tangled lights that she’s thrown out perfectly good sets and bought brand new ones.
Rachel Ray is undoubtedly not the only one guilty of this. Untangling lights is clearly a challenge that overwhelms countless well-wishers eager to celebrate the holidays. All things considered, it’s really about time that stores started hiring staff for Christmas Light Untangling.
World’s Largest Gingerbread City …
In the center of the town of Bergen, Norway, the sweet smell of cloves, cinnamon, and allspice emanates from an old public swimming pool arena. Inside is a massive baked and sugar-coated city made out of gingerbread—claimed to be the largest gingerbread village in the world.
Every year since the Christmas tradition began in 1991, Bergen’s community comes together to construct the miniature wintery wonderland. In the video above of this year’s Pepperkakebyen (Norwegian for “the gingerbread village”), you can take a virtual tour through the rows of delicious houses, towers, trains, cars, and ships that are almost entirely made from real gingerbread. The city contains over 2,000 gingerbread houses flanking a mountainside and dotting around a lake.
Building gingerbread houses has been a holiday pastime since the early 1800s. It’s said that after the publication of the Grimm’s fairytale Hansel and Gretel, German bakers began creating ornamented candy houses out of gingerbread. The city of Bergen has taken the tradition to a whole new level.
Even though the inedible components have prevented it from beating New York’s Gingerbread Lane (a 1,020 gingerbread structure) for the Guinness World Record, Bergen’s Pepperkakebyen is still an enormous and impressive feat. You can see the Gingerbread City on display at the Sentralbadet from November 19 till December 31.
And with that, my dear friends, we should all get busy on our appointed tasks. I hope your week is wonderful, even if busier than you might wish. And I have a special request. Please take a few moments to remember those who may have less than we do, who may be alone and sad, some may not even have a home. Give a smile, give a hug, give a few dollars if you can spare it. I love you all … Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Joyous Kwanza! Happy Holidays!