We are managing to be festive in spite of our lack of daughters in the house.

#2 son is an adventuresome cook. He is adventuresome in the sense of making difficult things, and also in the sense of particularly liking odd recipes. If it is cooked on a plank or a skewer, includes weird ingredients, or requires a lot of tools to prepare, he is on it. This boy has actually made the Coke Cake.

So yesterday, along with spaghetti and hot bread, he decided to make Hot Gingered Cider and Hello Dollies. The cider is a Better Homes and Gardens recipe. Here it is:

1 liter ginger ale
4 c apple cider
1/4 c mulling spices
2 T lemon juice
1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced.
Combine all ingredients and heat through.

This is really quite good, and not too sweet.

Hello Dollies are called Magic Cookie Bars by the Eagle Brand company, but around here, where you meet them at every potluck, they are called Hello Dolly cookies. I have no idea why. I had never even eaten them before, let alone made them, but you might want to try them sometime. They are not made as a normal cookie is. You take a hammer to a sleeve of graham crackers and put the crumbs into a pan, pour condensed milk over them, and then layer on various goodies such as chocolate and nuts, depending on the variation you have chosen to make. You then bake the unlikely-looking stuff. They are very easy to make and turn out a nice rich, gooey treat. We had trouble getting them to cut neatly into squares, but have no other complaints. I snuck some into the freezer to keep for Christmas.

We had a productive day, actually. We mailed Christmas cards, delivered jars of marmalade to folks we wouldn’t be seeing in the coming week, got the shopping done, ordered the meatitude for Christmas Eve, and cleaned house. I soldered the remaining jump rings on and cleared away the crafting mess which has possessed the kitchen table for a week. The boys washed the dogs in something called “Fur So Fresh” in an effort to lessen the overall dogginess of the atmosphere. Presents arrived in the mail from my sister and #1 daughter, much improving the look of our Christmas tree. I knitted another inch or two on Pipes.

#2 son also had the inspiration to teach his dad the expression “Bah, Humbug!”

You may be thinking that this is a middle-aged man who has spent more than half his life in the U.S. and must therefore already know about “Bah, humbug,” but you would be wrong there. My husband’s ability to ignore his adopted country rivals that of the Brits in India in the time of the Raj.

#2 son thought it would be funny to get his dad to say “Bah, Humbug!” in response to “Merry Christmas.” I discouraged this. But then he was telling us that his American friends are asking him whether he has finished his Christmas shopping, done his decorating, and so on.

He could of course draw himself up and say, “I am Buddhist” in a chilly voice. Instead, he smiles sweetly and says, “My wife does that.”

The other day one of his friends asked him, “Has your wife thrown you out yet?”

So we suggested that when people ask about his holiday preparations, he can say, “Christmas! Bah, Humbug!”

He wrote it down. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Today is the Big Music in church and more baking and cleaning at home. I am hoping that there will also be a nice Sunday afternoon nap, or at least a good bit of reading and knitting.

I heard a cute song, new to me, on the radio, and it could make a good song for the day if you are wrapping things or shopping or baking or something like that. “I Want to Hitch a Ride With Santa Claus” was recorded by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters, ansd also by Bing Crosby with a little boy, perhaps one of his sons. I could not find sheet music or the tune online, so here is another option, in the public domain: “Good Christan Men, Rejoice!” This song, to the tune “In Dulci Jubilo,”  is really just as sprightly as “Hitch a Ride,” though in a different mood. Of course, nowadays we sing “Good Christians all, rejoice” or “Good Christian friends, rejoice” since there is no reason to suppose that the women are all off shopping and baking and have no time to rejoice. This link, however, will take you to a rather cool image of old sheet music showing a group of men in knee breeches Good_Christian_Men_8a_smallgathered around a table singing very seriously, perhaps while they wait for someone to bring them dinner.

(Ummm, if that link doesn’t work, you can click here and scroll down the page and click on the thumbnail… it might not be worth it, though. Sorry.)