The Recipe for Christmas Spirit: More lights, less milk.

As Norris and I made our way back to his car late Saturday night, bundled against the dropping temperatures, watching our breath expel in billowy tufts, I admired the block on Tasker where we parked: every house had been decorated differently, with strings of white, colored, and blue lights, blinking reindeer, light-up snowflakes, lights even hung clothesline-style from one side of the street to the next. Albeit hodgepodged, this spectacle transformed the small strip of street into a magical wonderland.

And in that moment, I fully embraced the Christmas spirit.

Christmas lights are always the thing that get me this time of year. I guess that’s the point: take the darkest time of the year and brighten it by adding twinkling lights to just about everything. It doesn’t just make the short days and cold temperatures prettier; it makes them bearable.

But beyond the twinkle lights, the many festivities of the past weekend helped get into that nostalgic, excited mindset, first starting with our Christmas office party Friday night.

The office has been abuzz about the party since I started–actually, before I even started. Immediately after receiving/accepting my offer letter, the next order of business was receiving the invitation to the holiday party. And admittedly, I was pretty worried about this event, fearful of making a good impression while not making an ass of myself. But after I started, I was told by just about everyone that making an ass of myself was precisely the way to fit in. And who am I to disappoint?

This was by far the most all-out holiday office party I’ve ever attended. It was held at The Lambertville Inn, a fancy little hotel/restaurant in the middle of the town. There was tons of food, an open bar, and a Hangover-inspired speech from the President of the company. And by God, there was dancing! Lots of sloppy, silly drunken dancing–and I wasn’t the only guilty of it :) And forget “drinking in moderation.” The girl I directly report to was literally double fisting all night (one of my favorite moments was when she did the “turtle” on the dance floor–completely on her back, legs and arms in the air, whilst still holding on to *both* her beer bottles).

And keeping with the company standard, there was schwag! Light-up martini glasses at every table, along with a little gift bag at the hotel room, filled with pre-game goodies (a medium size bottle of Baileys along with 2 shot glasses made of chocolate), along with post-party treats (snack food, bottles of water, Tylenol…). And did I mention the hotel was also paid for by the company? Because there weren’t enough rooms to accommodate everyone at the Lambertville Inn, a handful of us ended up at a super cute B&B right down the corner. The room reminded me a little of the Wes Anderson short, Hotel Chevalier, which was perpetuated by Donnie playing “Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)” by Peter Sarstedt (the song from the film) while we got ready. I did my best channel Natalie Portman’s cool sophistication, but instead cut myself shaving and got a runner in my pantyhose (good thing I brought extra…).

After the party was over, a group of coworkers made their way to the bar down the street. It was a bit of a walk, especially because it was so cold. We were quite the motley crew, stumbling loudly through the streets, some girls taking off their shoes after deciding the cold asphalt was less painful than their tall heels. Once we got there, the bartender informed us they were closing early and we only had 20 minutes, but the head of the company, who had organized the bar meet up, talked to her for a few moments and they agreed to stay open. He rewarded the whole bar by paying for everyone’s drinks (including the people who were already there, not with our party).

Although I had been drinking pretty steadily at the party (Oh Captain, my Captain!), the bar is definitely what did me in: first a round of beers, then car bombs, then more beer, then shots, then more beer. Did I mention the company paid for all of it?

I pretty much passed out the minute I got back to the room and sorely regretted my transgressions when I woke up the next morning (good thing the company thought ahead with the Tylenol…). But after a shower, the free breakfast, and a quick power nap, D and I were up and ready to explore Lambertville and New Hope!

We walked around for awhile, stopping in a few shops here and there and hitting up the little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint whose owner sounded like Buster Poindexter. We hit up the hot sauce shop we had been to before to pick up a giant bottle of Cholula and I stopped in my favorite consignment shop ever, which also has locations in Philly and Princeton (this one was definitely not as good as the others…). While I was in there, I got a random text from my cousin. “How you liking Lambertville?” I was a bit puzzled until I read the follow up text, indicating she and her boyfriend were also in town and had just passed me and D on the bridge.

We then met up with them at Triumph Brewery, whose Philly location is one of our favorite spots to hit up in Old City. We hung out there for awhile, enjoying their homemade brews and shooting the shit before we parted ways. Then it was off to see Chris at B&N on the way home and take full advantage of his employee discount (scored a couple QPs of Fables and a Betty White calendar to bring to the office). We grabbed dinner and then headed back towards home.

By the time we got done with all our visiting, it was pushing 8 p.m., so I had D drop me off in Philly to meet up with Norris so we could hit up Elle’s “Very Economical” Christmas party (complete with a “Very Economical” Polyana. I brought a Farmer’s Almanac–also purchased at B&N–and received a pack of tealights in exchange). A good time was had by all, and in my still-hungover state, I ended up raping the food table and eating more pizza bread than I care to mention. By the time Norris dropped me home, I was full, content, and very ready for sleep.

As much as I wanted to do nothing but lounge on Sunday, groceries were needed and fudge production had been promised (that sounds… odd and dirty?): work was doing a cookie swap, and being that I don’t bake, I thought fudge would be an easy and tasty alternative (which somehow astoundingly did not end up being the case, but I’m jumping ahead of myself). So, off I went into the cold to run the necessary errands. This trip made me promise myself to NEVER step foot in a craft store after December 1st. Sweet Jesus and Mary, you would think artificial flowers and candy molds were gold bars the way these people hunted the aisles. I guess when you have a lot of crappy crafts to make for friends you don’t actually have, you get pretty stressed out.

After that, I indulged in some sushi (no lunch special on Sundays, but the sushi IS 30% on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday omgwhydoIknowthespecialsbyheart?!) and then it was off to Wegmans, where I wandered idly sans shopping list and then settled on the most random items to make for meals: a box of Goya rice, 2 bottles of Mexican Coke, assorted vegetables, 2 different kinds of cheddar cheese, and one potato knish. I also indulged and got myself one of the pretty Christmas cookies from the bakery aisle.

“Can I just get one cookie?” I asked the lady working the counter.

“Absolutely.”

“OK, awesome! I’ll take the Christmas tree-shaped one. The one with all the frosting. Because I’m five.”

I guess the woman sensed my true excitement for their baked goods because she then asked slyly, “So… do you like coconut?”

“Yes…?”

“Would you like to try one of our macaroons…?”

“Yes…?”

I was waiting for a catch. But there was none. One batch came out a bit browner than “what they liked” (who is “they”?), so they had cookies to spare. Free cookie! While getting ANOTHER cookie! Seriously, you would have thought someone just told me I won the lottery. I walked around the store like the fucking pope. I even put my cart away in the designated spot in the parking lot, I was so fucking happy.

And after that, I made fudge. Well, sort of.

I’m not going to go into the whole process, because there’s not a lot to say. It was a 3-ingredient recipe. Literally. So I don’t know how I fucked it up. I can only surmise that I used more evaporated milk than I should have because I ended up with a lovely fudge sauce but not actual fudge. D picked up a few more bags of chocolate chips today, so I’m hoping the delicious goop can be salvaged (even in the freezer all day and it wouldn’t fully solidify. wtf?).

So, there you have it. The bottom line? I might not have the perfect recipe for fudge, but I know just what’s needed to create some good ol’ fashion Christmas spirit! Huzzah!

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