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December 3, 2010

The Big Qustion: Small Pleasures Edition

Filed under: Holidays,The Big Question — Miss Plumcake @ 3:45 pm

You guys…no seriously, you guys…can we take it to the reals for a minute?

I know we’re all excited about the holidays and the orgiastic consumer frenzy we’re all supposed to get in, and I get it I swear. I mean like Orgiastic Consumer Frenzy is my middle name but I think we need to step back from our spittle-flecked high-interest credit cards and reflect what this season is truly all about.

That’s right. Haviland Orange Thin Mints.

OMG I love these so hard. They remind me of that orange/mint body wash my Dutch boyfriend used to get shipping from Den Haag when we were in college. But there’s chocolate! And I don’t need to worry about it using all the hair product.

I don’t really get excited by candy. I like those gummy ginger bears because if it’s ginger, I’m pretty much guaranteed to put it in my mouth eventually and the chewing relaxes my jaw so the tension of the day doesn’t cause me to grind down my pearly whites into pearly nubs OF RAGE, but when I saw Walgreen’s had these gorgeous little silver dollar-sized goodies back in stock I nearly wet myself all over a non-sectarian blue aluminum holiday tree, and frankly since I nearly burned my church down this time last year (it wasn’t NEARLY as big a fire as you’d think) I can’t really risk that sort of electrical malfunction.

Anyhoodle, Today Miss Plumcake wants to know:

What’s your favorite seasonal small pleasure? Tangible or not, I want to hear it.


  1. Reed & Barton silver Christmas bells….hubby and I were given one by a delightful Aunt for our first few Christmas holidays and after she passed away, we continue to buy one for ourselves each year.

    It’s a ritual involving a local jewelery store who has us on the ‘list’ and calls us every Oct to let us know our bell is in.

    And Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and port on Christmas Eve

    Comment by Thea — December 3, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  2. It’s simple but I grab any of the ice cream that has candy canes in it! Yumm!

    Comment by Monica Quijada — December 3, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  3. What a lovely tradition Thea! I have no such customs but I look forward to Peppermint Bark candies and Baileys with milk all year. I know I could have both at any point before the Christmas season but I like to create artificial demand. The payoff is soooo worth it.

    Comment by lucy — December 3, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  4. Generally I’m far too classy to have any flavors adulterating my fine coffee (or better, single estate Assam tea). But when Dunkin’ Donuts starts putting up the Gingerbread and Eggnog latte ads they might as well be putting “free cashmere” signs in the window for all my powers of resistance.

    And once I’m in there are gingerbread donuts too. Ginger and nutmeg are my sweet food siren songs.

    Comment by cedar — December 3, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  5. My favorite seasonal pleasure has to be the cayenne cheese wafers that only my mother and I know how to make. Of course I COULD make them at any time of the year but I save this joy for Christmastime. Actually, it’s probably the only part of Christmas I enjoy.

    Comment by L — December 3, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  6. Mint M&M’s and eggnog and gingerbread coffee creamer. I drink my coffee black the rest of the year but indulge at this time of year.

    Comment by Jane H. — December 3, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  7. The employees of the Chicago Transit Authority take it upon themselves every year to decorate a Holiday Train. It’s decorated with thousands of lights and plays holiday music. There are conductors in every car giving out candy canes. It makes a run on every line in the system, with Santa riding an open car. There is a schedule you can use to look up where it will be and when, but what I love most is seeing some tired, harried commuter who has no idea the Holiday Train is coming and just wants to go home start grinning at the sight of the train pulling into the station. It’s truly Christmas magic.

    Some pics are here:

    Comment by Orora — December 3, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  8. A good viewing of the classic White Christmas (Rosemary Clooney in that black mermaid dress, amiright or amiright??). No year is complete without me and my girlfriends goofing around the living room singing “Sisters” and knocking over martinis. :-D

    Comment by Leah — December 3, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  9. The meatballs in cheese sauce my Mother makes for the Christmas Eve buffet every year. Basically, it’s meatballs in a rarebit. OMG. Yum. *ded*

    That and sitting quietly in my house with all the yule decorations up and lights on enjoying the moment.

    Comment by Miss B — December 3, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  10. @Leah: OH YEAH!!!! “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing!!” I know that there are people who are addicted to the original “Holiday Inn” with Crosby and Astaire, but “White Christmas” is, IMHO, much, much better (and there is something about Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen in red gloves!). OK..I’ll calm down now…

    Comment by Toby Wollin — December 3, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  11. @Leah: YES, I too have quite the soft spot for White Christmas. I actually have quite the soft spot for Christmas in general. I think it comes from my mother, who gets pretty ridiculous about Christmas, but in an entirely secular way.

    My favorite seasonal small pleasure is Trader Joe’s Peppermint Joe Joes. They’re like Oreos, but with candy cane flavored filling and much tastier chocolate cookies. They are crack. Both I and my husband love them, so we end up hoarding about a dozen boxes every year. I have totally eaten them for breakfast.

    Comment by Emily — December 3, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

  12. I’m so pleased that I’m not the only who must watch White Christmas every year! I must also watch Miracle on 34th Street. Bailey’s in hot coco, candy canes in hot coco, and apple cider with buttershots in it!

    Comment by Jessica — December 3, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

  13. @ Leah – I too enjoy White Christmas, it’s not Christmas unless I watch it at least once.

    My favorite seasonal small pleasure is indulging in baking (and eating ) the 10+ varieties of Christmas cookies my mom and I make each year.

    Comment by dr nic — December 3, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

  14. Ganong Chicken Bones — they’re a hard, oblong cinnamon candy with a bitter chocolate centre. Only in Canada, and only at Christmas. Pair that with the trippy stop-animation of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas special, and it feels pretty festive to me!

    Comment by La Petite Acadienne — December 3, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

  15. 3 ounces of Beluga.

    Comment by annie — December 3, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

  16. “Love, Actually.” Egg nog. The Eat’n’Park Christmas Star commercial.

    Comment by Tiff — December 3, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  17. Brandy slush. Drinking Jack & Coke and eating chocolate peanut butter balls. Chocolate covered cherries.

    Comment by jewels — December 3, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

  18. I have my grandmother’s gingerbread cookie recipe that, even if it weren’t my grandmothers, are the best gingerbread cookies ever. She left her recipes to me when she passed away (she had a bakery) and they are Christmas and my Nanna in one delicious bite

    Comment by klee — December 3, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  19. mint M&Ms (thanks for the reminder!)
    A Christmas Carol
    Christmas Story
    And I make some kick-ass cookies: Chocolate-peppermint pinwheels, Jammie thumbprints, chewy gingersnaps, lemon bars, and sugar cookies (so simple but so damn good!)

    Comment by g-dog — December 3, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

  20. Spinach dip, Totino’s pizza rolls (yeah I know!), gingel ale and the aforementioned White Christmas all enjoyed by the light of the tree. Ahhh…can’t wait!

    Comment by AmazonAngelle — December 3, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

  21. Christmas on the River….basically a parade of decorated boats.

    Eggnog lattes, milkshakes, coffe creamer, but not eggnog itself…*kanye shrug*

    Brown butcher paper for sale in the post office. Lots of people use the plain paper to showcase great big southern satin bows…

    Comment by Jeanine — December 4, 2010 @ 12:14 am

  22. Eggnog from our local dairy. I’ve had commercial eggnog, I’ve had handmade, and this stuff is the best hands down. Sweet but not too, definitely eggy and nutmeggy, thick but not too thick to swallow, goes well with brandy OR rum OR bourbon, and is delivered to the door. (What, doesn’t everyone get milk delivery? Oh well.)

    We get one quart for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas and sip it in small quantities because it is that good and that rich.

    And my advent calendar. I get one every year. And unlike when I was growing up, I get to open every single one of the doors myself because my husband doesn’t care.

    Comment by TropicalChrome — December 4, 2010 @ 12:18 am

  23. @ La Petite Acadienne:

    I lived in St. Stephen NB for about a year, many years ago–I am sure (I was told!) I was one of the only people in town who regularly went to the Ganong store to buy those chicken bones. I love those to death but I’m afraid having access to them all year while I was there made them a non-Christmas candy. They’re a perfect breakfast candy, though. That’s for sure.

    Maybe they do come out at Christmas only–but I always bought them in bulk…and kept them on hand! Seems like it’s time to go out and find some here in Upper Canada, cause I want them now.

    Comment by ChaChaheels — December 4, 2010 @ 5:15 am

  24. My Advent calendar scratcher which I know is totally blasphemous, but… There are even extra prizes to be scratched on each Advent Sunday.
    Snowballs – Dark chocolate with marzipan inside and a white candy coating with absurdly sharp chunks of sugar. Mmm.

    Comment by Rebekka — December 4, 2010 @ 7:19 am

  25. I make my own eggnog and Vanillekipferl, which I promise you is better than it sounds. :)

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — December 4, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

    Those slice-and-bake currant cookies (recipe on the back of the Sun*Maid currants box! Yes!)
    The approaching Holiday Inn/Love Actually Christmas movie marathon cuddled up with boyfriend!

    Comment by JB — December 4, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

  27. peppermint bark. all its variations.

    Comment by Violet — December 4, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  28. Swedish “wish cookies” -thin, gingery and oh so good.
    Egg nog.
    My Mom’s cranberry arctic salad made with real whip cream–excellent therapy for a holiday hangover…….I have heard….
    Swedish rice pudding–if you find a whole almond in yours, you get a special present! (my gramma put an almond in all the pudding cups)

    Comment by kimberly — December 5, 2010 @ 12:24 am

  29. Making felt tree ornaments – I’ve been embroidering initials since October for everyone in my large family. After Christmas dinner, everyone gets to take theirs down and keep it as a gift. I love it when there is a new addition to our family and there’s a new name to add. This year it’s my daughter!

    I also love wrapping presents and obsess over cards, ribbons, wrappers etc for days before.

    Comment by retna — December 5, 2010 @ 12:27 am

  30. I love making hot chocolate with Abuelita syrup. You might be able to find it in the Latin section of your local store. You can also get it in tablets (if you have a blender and can froth it up that way), but I love mine thick and covered with marshmallows.

    Also, my stepfather’s homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. HEAVEN.

    Comment by Sealink — December 5, 2010 @ 12:51 am

  31. Mistletoe candles by Yankee Candles. Love that Christmas tree scent in the house.

    Comment by Lora — December 5, 2010 @ 3:21 am

  32. My families generations-old recipes for wassail and shortbread, savored while dozing off in front of the Christmas tree.

    Comment by pamici — December 5, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

  33. Good things: Eggnog with brandy much too nice to put in eggnog and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top, watching White Christmas and dancing to all the good numbers, stockings on Christmas morning (I’m 31, my mother still fills my stocking, and it’s still my favorite “present”).

    But my favorite thing is sitting in church on Christmas Eve when all the lights are dimmed, and everyone sings “Silent Night” by the light of their individual candles. That’s the time I really feel the magic of the holiday, the Christmas spirit, if you will. I cry every year.

    Comment by mywhimsey — December 5, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  34. I hate traffic, but there is something about a clear, cold, busy night this time of year, with cars and lights and you just KNOW that people are Christmas shopping in the stores. Something about it gives me the sappiest, most sentimental feeling of the whole year. I’m filled with images of giant bows and pretty packages and poinsettas. (I work in retail so I only enjoy this if I am outside or in my car.) Also, eggnog and my Nana’s baklava.

    Comment by dangermarie — December 5, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

  35. Midnight Mass
    ‘White Christmas’ (though I’ve been known to watch it in June)
    Mom’s homemade candies (caramels, fudge and toffee)
    My cayenne ginger snaps
    The Magic Tree (
    Making paper snowflakes and Christmas cards

    Comment by Emi!y — December 6, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  36. @ Tiff, I just spent Friday night with friends decorating their tree (‘No, No, you have to weave the lights up and down!’) and watching ‘Love, Actually’. It definitely kicked off the season for me.

    Comment by jojo.k — December 6, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  37. @Thea: that sounds so sweet. I won’t buy a Chocolate Orange because I’ll eat the whole thing and make myself sick, but you’re right: Advent marks the beginning of port by the fire.

    @Monica Quijada: Oh hells to the yes. Peppermint ice cream is the only ice cream I’ll eat, unless you count a scoop of coffee-flavored Haagen Dazs in a pint of Guinness, which is also delicious.

    I totally get you with artificial demand. I do the same thing with Mister Kiplings’ Mince Pies. I could order them any time of year (mostly) but I refuse until the first week of Advent.

    Comment by Plumcake — December 6, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  38. @Cedar: I judge you for the coffee adulteration, and yet I’m pretty sure any food that starts with the word “ginger” is going in my mouth eventually. YUM.

    @L: I love a good cheese wafer. So if you’d ever be willing to share the recipe let me know!

    Comment by Plumcake — December 6, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  39. @Lisa: I love a good nog! The best thing about one of my exes was his homemade eggnog that was pretty much a fifth each of cognac and bourbon, plus enough cream, eggs and spices to give Santa a coronary. Delish!

    @JB: Hell yeah gluehwein! I make excellent spiced wine and of course there’s my traditional Viking Sangria made with glogg. Mmm.

    @Violetta: Mmm, peppermint bark. I was JUST thinking about making some peppermint bark for the weekend.

    Comment by Plumcake — December 6, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

  40. @Kimberly: Is it rice pudding with cardamom? I LOVE that stuff!

    How wonderful! Everyone on my father’s side has little crocheted stocking with our names on it. I’ve got a quite long name though so mine gets a bit cramped at the end!

    @Sealink: I just can’t get the Abuelita love…I try it every year and fail. Cajeta envinada in hot milk though = muy sabrosa!

    Comment by Plumcake — December 6, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

  41. @Lora: I love that candle! I generally object to having anything yankee in my house, but I figure as long as I’m setting it on fire it’s okay. I love Jack Frost, which they’ve released under different names along the years.

    @pamici: ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little wassail!

    @Mywhimsey: I can’t tell you how much your Silent Night story meant to me. As a church worker, Christmas Eve isn’t a magical time as much as it is a pain in the ass of epic proportions to make sure to give the church experience to parishioners who show up twice a year (we call them CEOs, Christmas/Easter Only). I rarely get home before 3 in the morning and I spend the whole next day recovering from the trauma. It makes me happy knowing it’s still magic for at least some parishioners.

    Comment by Plumcake — December 6, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

  42. @Miss B: You had me at rarebit. I’m also with you on the quiet sitting and enjoying. I don’t generally put up much in the way of decoration at Château Gâteau other than my Nativity set (sans Jesus until Christmas and magi until Epiphany) my Advent wreath, but on Sunday nights in Advent I always light the appropriate candles, put a fire in the fireplace, sing the appropriate verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel and sit quietly with my cognac. It’s heaven.

    @Toby: I think the White Christmas vs Holiday Inn people are like the Sharks and the Jets…I’m a Holiday Inn person, for the record.

    Comment by Plumcake — December 6, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  43. My Grandmother’s homemade Christmas jam (cranberry – strawberry) which I still make in her honor.

    By Dec 20 I will be singing Christmas carols happily to myself most of the time.

    The soft peppermint ball candies that melt quickly in your mouth – also good in hot coco. Chocolate oranges – it’s just fun to whack them.

    Baking at least 7 – 12 different types of cookies to pkg and give away. Making praline coated pecans then making pound cakes, pies, and more pies for various friends. Sometimes fudge and divinity are also on the list but not every year.

    A Christmas Story.

    Wrapping presents with beautiful handmade bows. Decorating the dining room including the chandelier w/ribbons, branches, and ornaments. If it does not cause wonder then it needs more work. :-)

    I also decorate a tree, mantle, and stair banisters but the dinning room and wrapping presents are special to me.

    Christmas Eve Services.

    Homemade sticky buns or a dutch pancake for Christmas morning.

    Comment by txbunny — December 7, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  44. Hot chocolate with a shot of 12 year old Jameson. Popcorn made on the stove top with coconut oil. Watching The Muppets Christmas Carol with my (grown) daughter, who is also a kid at heart.

    Comment by Lilly Munster — December 8, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

  45. (stops cold) There *is* Abuelita syrup?! (logs off to go to the mercado)

    Comment by Lili Bitmore — December 11, 2010 @ 2:48 am

  46. I’m late to the party, but I want to put a vote in for pierogi. More specifically, my mom’s pierogi, which she only makes for Christmas and Orthodox Easter. They are the Platonic ideal of what I think a pierogi should be.

    Comment by Mary (of Doom) — December 13, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

  47. I hate to say this… but I’ve never seen Holiday Inn. I shall be adding it to my viewing list this year. Thanks for the tip, ladies!! BTW- thought of perhaps making a drinking game out of White Christmas viewing. Drink whenever there’s a gratuitous leg. Drink when there’s a continuity error. Drink when you want to wear what Rosemary Clooney’s wearing. Drink when Vera-Ellens costumes make her look icky-skinny. Not sure I’d make it to the end of the movie….

    Comment by Leah — December 16, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

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