Busy, busy, busy! Wrapping presents and slugging down Jameson-laden wassail leaves little time for research and quality writing, so we are lucky to have guys like Jeff from Shakesville around. In the wake of this week's kerfuffle at work, I was happy to run into his well-written summary of precisely why it doesn't make a rat's ass of a bit of difference whether you wish someone a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Mithra-Rah-Rah-Rah at this time of year.
When someone says "Happy Holidays" to me, I take it as an expression of friendliness, a wish that I might enjoy whatever I celebrate, however I do it, and that is the wish I return when I reply "Happy Holidays" myself. Despite being a recovering Catholic who is far enough along in the process to be certifiably atheist, I still call my own celebration "Christmas" and do it up with all the trimmings and traditions from my childhood, just minus any belief in Baby Jesus. If somebody else calls it Solstice and someone else simply "Holiday," it doesn't diminish the season or insult anyone any more than does my retaining the name and trappings of Christmas without what would seem to be a pretty requisite underlying faith. For Chrissakes, it's all about kicking back with friends and family to celebrate generosity and a little bit of peace. The name slapped on the substance of the celebration is irrelevant. Besides, the fucking Puritans conservatives so love to invoke would have put us all in stocks in the town square for participating in modern American-style Christmas revelry anyway, since they thought Christmas celebrations were unbiblical and paganistic and--even worse--Papist, so don't give me that "traditional Christmas is under attack" bullshit.
Speaking of kicking back and promoting peace and Jameson-spiked hot beverages, it simply isn't Winter Holiday Time at Boltgirl's house without gallons and gallons of wassail. For your consumption:
Brew in large stockpot or cauldron:
1.5 quarts strong black tea, such as Irish Breakfast
1 gallon apple cider (unfiltered Gravenstein juice from Trader Joe's works well)
slightly more than half of a large can of frozen OJ concentrate
~2 pints cranberry juice cocktail
~2.5 pints grapefruit juice
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water (truly spitting in a hurricane, but it's in the recipe, so...)
handful of cinnamon sticks
handful of cloves
Bring to a simmer and adjust juices to taste, simmer for hours but don't bring to a boil. Fantabulous on its own, more so with the addition of some Irish whiskey, bourbon, or rum. Keep the pot on the stove until it's gone for continuous wassailing pleasure; it won't go bad on you in just a couple of weeks.