Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.

The Motley Monk, who is a pretty good cook, has 10 tips for your Holiday Cheer and Dining.

We are instructed that these rules are the “essence of Christmas dinner” at his place.

  1. Always avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare… You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
  8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. Have some standards!
  10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

It now seems appropriate for me to post the link for Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. rakesvines says:

    Your blog seems to follow the formula of the Greek classics where posts that gradually rise to an intense summit is followed by a fall (a less serious topic) to somehow ease the pressure. This is certainly a relief after reading the Pope’s statements.

    And as the Greeks, Aristotle in particular, would have it, “In medio stat virtu” so hopefully there won’t be a need for Confession after the Christmas parties.

  2. RichardT says:

    Mashed potatoes with milk?

    Mashed potatoes are made with butter and cream. Both full-fat, of course.

  3. lizfromFL says:

    Love #1 and #5. Carrot sticks have no place at Christmas. Except maybe for Santa’s reindeer.

  4. Animadversor says:

    I was on board up until ? 9, though perhaps the person who wrote this has never had good fruit cake.

  5. asophist says:

    Gluttony, eh? Tsk, tsk.

  6. kab63 says:

    The disrespect for fruitcake is a fault in an otherwise excellent list. However, fruitcake is a topic that requires its own rules (Rule #1: anything colored green is forbidden), so the Motley Monk can be forgiven for his ignorance.

  7. Carrot sticks are clearly a tasty hors d’oeuvre, not a dinner dish. That said, candied carrots are yummy. So’s carrot cake and carrot bread. Nor is there anything wrong with carrot shred-bearing yellow Jello molds upon the groaning festive board. Be thou not disrespectful of the orange vegetable!

    I agree about eggnog, and especially eggnog custard and eggnog syllabub. I disagree about gravy, because it sorta dilutes the goodness of mashed potatoes. (If the turkey’s dry, then yeah, pour it on and pray. Otherwise, a dab’ll do ya.) And I agree about pies.

    Good fruitcake is yum. Bad fruitcake is yuck. Don’t make little kids eat fruitcake, because most kids don’t have the tastebuds for it yet. You don’t want to put them off for life, just because they don’t like the taste of alcohol yet.

  8. Stephen Matthew says:

    I have been a long time reader of this blog, but registered to respond to this. I quite simply could not allow the ninth point to stand uncontested.

    I will have the readers know, that not only is there such a thing as good fruit cake, but that it is one of the greatest of the Christmas treats. Not only that, but the best fruit cake to be had is that made by monks. In particular, the Trappist monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani (best known as home to Thomas Merton) in Kentucky makes nearly ideal fruit cake (having gained the endorsement even of the Wall Street Journal). Their fruit cake does contain candied cherries of both the red and green sort, so one of the other posters may need to revise his theory. Further, the monks at the abbey also produce excellent Trappist cheeses. They do also produce a bourbon fudge, but I find it a bit heavier on the bourbon than I care for.

    Also as to the first point, I will put in a good word for baby carrots so long as they are used as a means of indulging in ranch dip. I could eat baby carrots and ranch dip very nearly to bursting.

    While on retreat at Gethsemani I heard the interesting story of a minor scandal. Apparently the monks are able to purchase bourbon make in Bardestown (just down the road) without paying taxes since it is an ingredient used in the fudge and fruit cake. However, they must keep account of its use as an ingredient. On one occasion the state came around to check the books and discovered the quantity of bourbon being purchased and the amount accounted for did not add up. The explanation was that the monks felt the need to do occasional quality testing on the bourbon and that the recipes were more of an approximation… and of coarse they couldn’t very well deny the occasional medicinal needs of their brother monks… In any case the monks were informed that in future the quantities being purchased tax exempt had better line up with the amount recorded as going into the fudge and fruit cakes. That at least is how I remember the story being told to me.

    Otherwise I would generally agree with the above advice, though I don’t much care for the common form of eggnog found at most parties and I am likely to pass on most of it.

  9. MargaretC says:

    Most commercial fruitcake is unfit for human consumption. It must be made at home.

    If you have a pet rabbit, it would probably enjoy carrot sticks for Christmas dinner. Everyone else should get glazed carrots. Feeding carrot sticks to friends and relatives at Christmas is a sin against charity.

  10. Lirioroja says:

    1. Hey, I like carrots. You gotta have a good dip though, otherwise pass. But rum balls – mmm, now you’re talking!
    2. I’ve never tried egg nog. Unfortunately I’m lactose intolerant and the lactase pills don’t work for liquids on me. So that’s sadly off-limits.
    3. Mmm, gravy… *drool*
    4. Again, that lactose intolerance thing. It really puts a crimp in the holidays.
    5. Lately I’ve been suffering from horrible acid reflux (another thing that puts a crimp in the holidays.) I find I must eat a little bit every few hours or I will be very ill. Otherwise I’d be totally on board with this one.
    6. What is this exercise thing of which you speak?
    7. This one’s a no brainer.
    8. I don’t like pumpkin. Or squash for that matter (except for zucchini and summer squash.) And I’ve never had a mincemeat pie and I’m not likely to come across one. So does that mean I can have three slices of (my favorite) apple pie?
    9. I have one word for you: panetone. Mmm, nom nom nom.
    10. Again, the acid reflux thing. It’s been really, really bad lately. I’m currently on the mend but with no job right now (and therefore no health insurance) I can’t afford to be ill. If I were well I wouldn’t mind making myself sick for a day all in the name of Christmas cheer. But when you’ve had it for seemingly days on end, you really don’t want to go there.

  11. AnAmericanMother says:

    Brine-marinated turkey cooked in a smoker for a L-O-N-G time. My dad’s specialty.
    Italian style eye of round – rolled in kosher salt and herbs and flash roasted. My specialty.
    Homemade stuffing with lots of onions, water chestnuts, and any other goodies in the fridge. My mom’s specialty.
    Homemade brown gravy (from saved drippings since the turkey drippings are WAY too salty and the beef drippings really are too, what there is of them.)
    Whipped sweet potatoes with lots of bourbon, butter, and brown sugar, in orange halves. My grandmother’s recipe, begged from the New Perry Hotel. Have always preferred these to carrots. Even “copper pennies” – a traditional Southern carrot salad.
    Homemade mashed potatoes – lots of butter and garlic.
    Rice pilaf or risotto with lots of parm, depending on what’s in the house.
    Indian style green beans with black mustard seeds, garlic and cayenne. I no longer fix green beans any other way. The recipe is in Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook.
    A nice big green salad.
    Julia Child’s pumpkin (souffle) pie for dessert. You don’t need any other kind of pie. With a little spoonful of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of nut brittle it is divine, even for people who don’t like pumpkin. (OK, I’ll make a Key Lime pie if you insist . . . )

    Then we will quietly settle down into post-prandial coma . . . .

  12. kat says:

    Wow…well, admittedly after singing Midnight Mass, coming home at 2 am, having to wait until ALL the children are asleep before we can allow Santa to enter the house, crawling into bed at…uhm, oh, maybe 3:30 AM…
    Then the children awaken around 8 AM. Have some kind of sweet yummy fattening breads with cocoa; open stockings and gifts; run out the door to sing 9:30 Mass, come home and collapse…well, Christmas dinner just isn’t that big a thing. Mom and I decided a couple years ago that life would be easier for us, and for those who stop by at Mom’s on Christmas day (my siblings, nieces, nephews, etc.) if we just order a platter of submarine sandwiches , and when people are hungry on Christmas afternoon they can eat them with chips, and then eat , what else, Christmas cookies!!
    On Sunday will be the big “family Christmas” with Mom and all my siblings even from out of town, and THAT will be the big meal day when we all bring something and have the turkey and ham and all the good stuff.
    Christmas day we just like to keep nice and relaxed these years…at least as relaxed as it can be with 6 children under the age of 14!

  13. The Cobbler says:

    Carrots are delivious raw (cleaned, but raw — preferably fleshly cool or coolly fresh) or dipped in appropriately vegetablish dip. Cooking, glazing or otherwise adding totally foreign flavors to their taste or mushiness to their consistency is an abomination.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    There certainly is such a thing as great English fruitcake, but it must be:
    a) made at home by a woman of British ancestry who knows what she is doing.
    b) more fruit & nuts than spiced dark cake and so dense you have to bake it slowly in a pans lined with paper. In November. So it can be doused with good whiskey or rum a couple of times and wrapped & re-wrapped during aging.
    c) sliced thinly and eaten delicately. It’s very sweet and heady.

    Not for children!!
    a) they don’t have the taste buds for it yet,
    b) young ones can’t handle all the lumps, and
    b) it’s too um…alcoholic…..for youngsters anyway.

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