Fresh Ideas: Cranberries and fuzzy snowballs

Here we are in the holiday season where everyone thinks nonstop about the holidays. About gifts and love and family drama and happiness and lights and snow and starting over. Candles and celebrating the lives of those we’ve lost. How short or long winter will be this time around. Bringing all the animals inside and wishing you had a fireplace to sit next to with some hot chocolate. But you don’t, so you watch Christmas movies with a heated blanket instead and you feel like that’s almost as good. The end of darkness and movement toward longer days and the summer to come that seems years away. Santa Claus. Religion. Homemade gifts of candles with coffee beans that don’t actually end up smelling like coffee but you wrap it in bits of burlap and a little ribbon and give it to your mom anyway. Making sugar scrub for everyone and coloring it in red stripes like a candy cane but when they use it in the shower, the red gets everywhere and it looks like a blood bath. “Die Hard.” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” VH1 80s rock videos and mixed cocktails and Living Room Dance Party.

The people all got married in June and are snuggly and excited to spend their first holiday season together. Thinking about their new forever. Thinking about starting their own family traditions.

Family traditions of giant fuzzy fake snowball fights with the whole family all over the house every Christmas Eve. Everyone screaming and laughing and totally nailing each other. Buying one ornament a year for your kid so when she moves out, she’s got 18 ornaments for the first tree of her own. Or 26, depending. Pea soup and potato soup that somehow end up being called “Sea-Poop” and “Sater-Poop” and everyone calls it that forever. A family eggnog party on the living room floor on your tiny little red trunk you used for stuffed animals as a kid. Teaching every dog you ever have to nose the cat away from the tree. Cross country skiing at Spooner Summit under a bright, full moon. Taking Mom’s paper calendar off the wall where she took notes of every event. Going through it month by month, and then placing each page into a fire.

That ancient recipe for ambrosia.

My favorite was stringing cranberries and popcorn into long, long pretty ribbons. Two cranberries and one popcorn. Then six cranberries and 17 popcorns. And on it went until my fingers were sore because every year I forgot again to use a thimble.

Those ribbons of color went into buckets and the puffy jackets and big mittens and hats and snowshoes went on and off we went into the forest. We’d find a perfect little tree and drape our creations all over it and sing all the traditional songs and wonder how many little animals we were feeding and wonder how long it would be until it was all gone. The purple and blue and white string decorating nests in the spring, holding up the happy little baby birds while they have their first look at the world.


And something to last a new forever.

Jodie Gullickson is almost a native Nevadan. She enjoys outdoor stuff, adventuring, and drinking beer. She lives in Reno with her husband and three fur-kids.


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