Thanksgiving was interesting. Two days before feast day, my back went out. I don’t remember a Thanksgiving when I haven’t cooked and this year it was supposed to be my show once again. Being the control freak that I am, I trust no one else to mash the potatoes, flay the apples, or puree the cranberries into proper submission. God forbid the stuffing has the wrong ratio of fresh sage to breadcrumbs. I personally break the fresh bread into stuffing sized pieces. Hansel and Gretel have nothing on me. Hence the name of this blog.

But this year, with my back seized up,  I moved more like Frankenstein’s Monster than cheery forest frolicking children. So I was forced to supervise the preparations from a recliner or the floor of the kitchen. Every hour or so I would get up and lumber from pot to pot, barking orders to my sous chefs. I was just like chef David Bouley (if he were a zombie) as I directed my minions. But everyone seemed to manage quite well without my actual hands touching the food. The only snafu was that they stuffed the turkey with lavender instead of rosemary. To their credit, herbs can be hard to tell apart in the garden.

The good news is that I still had my prescription pills from the last back-disaster squirreled away. They help. One unfortunate consequence of those otherwise enjoyable muscle relaxers: I bought a handbag made from an armadillo. I was doing some Christmas shopping on Etsy for my vintage obsessed daughter. However the handbag was purchased for me. I told Scarlett that next time I take muscle relaxers she must take away my computer.

Now we are in the opening salvos of Christmas. Although the city is decorated from top to bottom with the hopes it will inspire us to spend even more money- I still look at it with the joy and wonder of a girl from Small Town and stand amazed that I live here, rampant commercialism or not. Something about the twinkly lights and the smell of evergreen and I go all “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” However, that fat man in a red suit is me. A role I was born to play. I delight in hunting and gathering that perfect gift for my loved ones at Christmas. You really, really, want to be my friend in December.

On the home front preparations have begun. The tree emails have been exchanged with a lovely farmer from the Union Square Market. I am determined to acquire one fresh enough that it will not be dropping needles the week before Christmas. It kills me to see ornaments hanging on for dear life over still unwrapped packages.

Years ago I would go upstate somewhere to get the tree, but these past few years I’ve been at the mercy of the local Tribeca tree vendors, who clearly sell trees cut months ago. Those rosy red-cheeked, plaid shirt wearing, hipster vendors all lie like rugs, despite their wholesome appearances.  And this next bit may be politically incorrect, but I’m going to go there; I think they’re the modern equivalent of gypsies, selling inferior products for exorbitant prices and then disappearing into thin air. Until next year. I’m waiting for one to offer to tell my fortune.

I have a confession. My name is Kate and I have tree OCD. My needs for a tree are specific: tall and thin. This is not a Park Ave. affectation, it’s a matter of the tree going to the ceiling and yet not taking up the floor space of a Volkswagen Beetle. Once acquired, I spend days decorating it. I weave twenty strings of lights through to the trunk, winding each branch, and then add clusters of white and clear balls collected for years from a little store on Christopher Street. The ornaments representing our lives come out of their carefully labeled boxes and the kids and I recount the history of where they came from.  Each one has a story and part of the tradition is the remembering.

Wolf the Cat

It goes on from here, the garlands, the wreath, the monstrous gingerbread house, (which deserves a post unto itself), and the sweater for the cat. Yes, I did say sweater for the cat. The kids have outgrown the blinking antlers I used to put on their heads. The cat sweater is retribution visited on the “next generation.” Clay and Scarlett delight in embarrassing Wolf the Cat by stuffing him into a medium size dog sweater. He’s topped 28 pounds, so he may need a large this year.

Okay Real Santa, I know I’ve been naughty this year, and been remiss about posting, but I will rise to the occasion for this very special season. There are too many tales to tell not to share.

You could call this is my version of the Christmas letter. Be afraid, be very afraid.

ho ho ho


Last years creation.