Merry almost Christmas, friends! I had such great intentions of creating several holiday cocktails, but somehow the time has escaped me. Doesn’t it always work out that way? I anticipate the arrival of Christmas all year, and when it finally arrives, it comes and goes in the blink of an eye. I suspect it’s that way for most wonderful things in life: weddings, births, and the many celebrations in between. What’s left is a few memories of time well spent; and, if you’re lucky, the ability to recall the joy felt in those moments.
When I look back on the 30 Christmases of my life, I can tell you with certainty that I don’t remember more than a handful of gifts I’ve received. What I do remember: Reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas each and every year, first my mom reading it to me, then my sister reading it to her kids, and now my nephews and nieces reading it to each other.
I remember a letter from Santa written by my dad, one that he spent hours creating—complete with a hole burned into it (from Rudolph’s nose, naturally) and two reindeer prints so realistic that a part of me still believes St. Nick is real.
I remember candlelight services at church, mini-roadtrips to view Christmas lights, and messy cookie-baking. I remember the faces of my nephews and nieces waking up to see that had Santa come. I remember the magic of the moments that we rush through and that rush through us.
So, as the 25th grows nearer, I’ve been trying to slow down and appreciate these little moments that add up to one busy holiday season. As I wrap my gifts, I try to think about the person who will receive them and how I hope the gift makes them feel. I try to wrap up that hope as well.
As I decorated the tree, I paused a second longer to hang my most meaningful ornaments. This was the first year Kyle’s childhood ornaments graced our tree, so I took care in nestling them amongst my own, as our pasts continue to merge into one shared life.
Over the next few days, there will be many opportunities to let such moments slip away from me—and an equal opportunity to stay present in them. Cocktails with old friends, dinners with couples we see only a few times a year, a lazy Christmas breakfast with my family—these are what joy is made of. And if I can hold onto even an ounce of that joy, and carry it with me until next year, it will have been a very merry Christmas, indeed.
As we close on 2014, I hope you’ll include this cocktail in your celebrations. It’s simple and bright and cheery—just like the holidays should be! And, in my opinion, December just begs for a little bubbly. Cheers!
- Cranberry purée (recipe below)
- Sparkling wine
Fill Champagne flute about one-third of the way up with the cranberry puree; tilt flute and slowly pour sparkling wine down the side of the glass to create an ombré effect. Sip merrily and enjoy!
makes enough for about 6 cocktails
- 1 c. gin or vodka (I tried both and preferred gin)
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 c. fresh cranberries
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree at least 1 minute, until no chunks remain. At this point you can use as-is, or strain through a fine sieve. I liked it with the seeds, but Kyle preferred it strained. Up to you!
Barware notes: My Champagne flutes were a Christmas present from my sister, Jen, from CB2. I love their modern take on a classic shape. The striped napkin was a Crate & Barrel outlet find.
Sip + Skim
My favorite finds this week, boozy and otherwise
- This coming year, I want to experiment more with beer cocktails. Taking a cue from Beautiful Booze’s Whiskey & Gingerbread Porter Sour could be a good place to start.
- This thoughtful New York Times piece, quite appropriate for the season, called “Abundance without Attachment.”
- Treating myself to a luxe pair of Christmas jammies (on sale!) and then re-watching last year’s classic sing-along, Christmas Jammies, in which a family raps to the tune of Will Smith’s “Miami.” It’s the best.
- I was reunited with one of my favorite shops of all time, Fish’s Eddy, during my visit to NYC this month—and am keeping their online shop on speed-click for the coolest and quirkiest wedding presents (including, um, maybe a few things for my own registry)
- End-of-the-year “best of” lists are basically my favorite thing ever. I’m carving out some time to spend with this one, TED’s top talks of 2014.
- Mourning the ending of Serial with this great list from Slate: What to read, watch and listen to when Serial ends. [Sidenote: I think Adnon did it. Dana’s point in the last episode about him being in too many “bad luck” situations is so spot-on. That said, I still think they should have acquitted him. There was clearly not enough evidence to prove him guilty without a reasonable doubt.]