Making my Spirits Bright

I spent the last few days of the semester sitting in the Barb until late at night, becoming genuinely confused as to how I was working non-stop for weeks, getting little to no sleep, and still having so much work to do. I was still finishing work at my parents’ house well into my winter break, writing and rewriting my two fifteen page essays for my Modern Jewish Literature class and Psychology of the Creative Process class, hoping beyond hope that I was still making sense even when it felt like I was operating on a limited number of brain cells.  

After everyone else went home, I had to finish up my RA responsibilities, which I am fairly certain I did not do properly, and then hung around LaGuardia for several hours, trying to finish writing the psychology paper on barely any sleep. I then tore into town on two wheels a couple of days before Christmas, where I blundered around trying to finish up some last minute shopping that nearly decimated my bank account. 

I’ve spent the season listening to the Christmas songs that I swear I don’t like but actually kind of do (cough, cough All I want for Christmas is you cough, cough, Last Christmas) and watching all of the Christmas episodes of The West Wing. I want to do a set number of things at Christmastime: wrap all of my gifts in purple, drink Brandy Alexanders, read “A Christmas Carol,” and watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” on repeat. I ask for very little, aside from the ridiculous amount of gifts that I expect to see under the Christmas tree. 

Purple

I did all of this in an attempt to make my spirits bright and not break my spirits. At this point, I was going to need to inject the holiday cheer directly into my bloodstream if anybody still expected me to be merry and bright. I should have been jolly and filled with mirth. Instead, I was bitter and cranky and in dire need of sleep. 

So here is a full and exhaustive list of all of the things that I attempted to do in the name of my own peace and prosperity: 

The Decking of the Halls 

I replaced my spider web condom door with a blue seasonal door that had white paper snowflakes that I made myself. It was a tasteful arrangement of condoms stuck to white paper snowflakes, surrounded by bits of snow beneath the same condom-centric poem that I had above it previously. Being my mother’s daughter, I refused to waste any paper but it was a colossal waste of my time to find new uses for the remaining scraps of paper. I took the silk dams that the school gave me and formed a wreath in the hallway that promptly fell off the wall. Consider the halls decked. 

Ninjabread men

My friend Alyssa and I made “ninjabread men,” gingerbread men striking combat poses, which did in fact get me in the holiday spirit, because, honestly, how could that not? Since we did not have a blender or a whisk, we made the dough with a fork. We then were expected to roll the dough on a lightly floured surface that I mistakenly covered with piles of flour. This resulted in mostly clumps of dust that tasted like pure flour instead of the human-shaped cookies on the side of the box. They mostly fell apart in the oven and the two that didn’t got slathered in vanilla icing and flecked with hard candy balls that were made of pure sugar. Most importantly, however, we had loads of fun making it. Why is it that making disastrous food can sometimes be more fun than making food well?

Holiday music fest

Throughout the week, I had to walk past groups of my peers while they were singing Christmas songs obnoxiously loudly and intentionally poorly and thinking that it made them all comedians. So you can imagine my relief when I went to an event where people could actually sing holiday songs. The event was called “Holiday Music Social with Julian Day, Josiah Levon + friends” and was brilliantly performed and impressively emceed. There was “Santa Baby,” “River” by Joni Mitchell, “Last Christmas,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer,” and “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” performed with the gender roles reversed. The whole thing lasted about two hours that fell in the middle of conference week and at the end of a day that I had spent worshiping at the altar of my school assignments. Alyssa performed and since my friend has a liquid-gold-voice, it made for a well-spent two hours of my life, providing me with a welcome distraction for the first time in weeks. 

The Nutcracker

I overdressed for a matinee of the New York City ballet’s Nutcracker at Lincoln Center with Sig. This resulted in a fabulous time, despite the blistered feet, in yet another example of what we could maybe call, “Raquel doll moments.” Raquelle is Barbie’s brunette friend, and although it’s spelled differently, I sometimes succumb to the fabulous nature of a well-tailored, stylish doll that teaches little girls about femininity and fashion. The ballet was excellent and worth every penny despite falling directly in the middle of my conference week, because I did not think an ounce of it through when I bought the tickets months in advance. 

A Christmas Carol

On December 19th, my first day back in town, my only plan for the day was to crack open “A Christmas Carol” and read it for the first time since it was published on that day 178 years ago. Instead, I had a last minute assignment to turn in and did not end up cracking the book open until after midnight. 

(Bah Humbug!)

This is as ugly as I’m willing to go in terms of sweaters
“Merry Christmas you old buildings and loans!”

Christmas Eve Eve

Twas the night of Christmas eve eve and I found myself going to an event where I could quite simply eat a buffet, drink a cosmopolitan, and then go home. Per my usual, I overdressed, wearing an outfit that looked more like New Year’s Eve than Christmas Eve Eve. The outfit consisted of a big black coat, a sequined black and white dress, glitter earrings, white glitter eyeshadow, and hair that I had curled earlier that day. Meanwhile, my grandmother showed up half-blind, having just had eye surgery, and still looking fabulous.

Exhibit A, your honor

Christmas Eve

For the first time in a year we could have people over to our house on Christmas Eve, so we did. I spent the evening acting like the duchess of my household, with the same dangling sparkling earrings, a dark green dress, and a plaid dark green cape from my great grandmother, Stella. I made Brandy Alexanders with nutmeg and cinnamon sticks, which aren’t just pretty, but are actually quite tasty, I discovered. Frozen Brandy Alexanders are like classy, alcoholic milkshakes. That, plus the cinnamon and sugar-rimmed mimosas I made throughout the night, became the fastest ways to make my spirit bright. Mission accomplished. 

Overall, it was a great holiday season. I narrowly avoided getting COVID, which puts me a step above where I was last year (Good times). Now, as I’m bringing the curtain down on 2021, I hope to maintain these well-lit spirits and lack of COVID into the New Year. 

Wish me luck in that endeavor. 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

The Tragic Queen,

Raquel

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