Patterico's Pontifications


Christmas Gifts

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 2:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It looks like I’m in charge around here now that our host is apparently on his way to his native land, which means I can post on all the goofy things that are on my mind.

Right now the main thing on my mind is Christmas. The best thing about Christmas is that our kids are old enough so we don’t have to find a must-have toy but young enough to still want to be home with us. We adults are young enough to be healthy and active and old enough to know how to savor each moment. That’s a win-win right there.

While there aren’t as many gifts under the Christmas tree now that the kids are older, we eat well now that we’ve become Food Network aficionados (thanks Ina, Giada, and Tyler) and the kitchen is a fun place to be around the holidays.

Our most extravagant Christmas gift was a red two-seater Fiat convertible purchased almost 30 years ago – long before the kids were around. It was so much fun but it was so expensive to maintain. Our auto mechanic, with whom we became good friends as a result of that car, told us Fiat stood for Fix It Again, Tony. He was right.

In recent times, my favorite gift was also vehicle-related but it didn’t cost near as much as the Fiat. We live in West Texas and traveling anywhere is a long drive. You learn to stay on the road if you want to get anywhere so we don’t stop except for gas.

Texas is dotted with historical markers and I’ve always been interested in them. I guess other people also wonder what the markers say but aren’t willing to stop and read them, because there’s a book entitled “Why Stop?” that catalogs most of the Texas historical markers. My family gave me that book for Christmas a couple of years ago and it’s still my favorite gift, not only because they cared enough to give me what I really wanted but also because they (reluctantly) have let me read aloud what every sign says. In fairness, while that book is my favorite gift, it might be my family’s least favorite.

However, one thing never changes. The worst Christmas gift is always fruitcake … but rum cake is pretty good.


14 Responses to “Christmas Gifts”

  1. About the Fiat:

    My father had a Fiat (1970 Spider 850) that was fairly reliable. He said the trick was the shifting pattern. Normal cars were to upshift at 3000 rpm, downshift at 2000. With the Fiat, if you changed that to upshifting at 4000, downshifting at 3000, it reduced the wear and tear on the engine and transmission.

    James (4ca02b)

  2. Now you tell me!

    DRJ (09f144)

  3. My mother had a book like that, too. We whined about her reading from it, but we actually liked to hear about the obscure history bits.

    From West Texas 2 (f28dac)

  4. FIAT= Fix It Alla’ Time

    But the Spyders, both the 124 and the 850, were cute.

    Mike Myers (31af82)

  5. What’s the matter with Paula Dean?

    hazy (d671ab)

  6. She’s great but too much fried food and mayonnaise for our house.

    DRJ (09f144)

  7. Fruitcake is the BEST Christmas gift…because it is an automatic, no guilt re-gift. There is always some fruitcake you know that likes fruitcake that you can give all your fruitcakes to. They also never go bad. I’m not sure why, though. I’ve had a Twinky and a Fruitcake on the shelf in my woodshop for 13 years. The Twinky is a little stale, but still edible. The fruitcake is as moist, dense and disgusting looking as the day I put it there.

    Chris Farley (6a96d1)

  8. Those books are great, but are immediately out of date, at least here. Pennsylvania has a similar historical marker program (my wife coordinates it), and we add dozens of new markers a year, out of heaps of submissions. The PA Historical & Museum Commission has a feature on its Web site allowing variable searches of existing markers. Of course, that doesn’t really help when you’re zipping along at 70 mph.

    Todd G. (55b2ab)

  9. Fruitcake isn’t too bad. That is, if you remove about 65% of the recipe items. There are some strange and mystifying ingredients that are very likely the reason for a two decade shelf life. Following said removal, you’re left with a pretty decent coffee cake. But there’s goes all that utilitarian function of door stop and safety wedge block for when you have the truck jacked up. Works well as a forgiving anvil surface, too. Wonder why no one’s tried them as an artificial reef. Could be the toxicity test calc’d out too high.

    allan (2b94c7)

  10. You leave out Saint Alton Brown???

    Heritic!! You will burn in the Rostiserie of Pain for your hubris!


    Merry x-mas, DRJ…

    Scott Jacobs (4133ae)

  11. Merry Christmas to you, too, Scott.

    I haven’t watched Alton Brown much but I did see one of his shows a couple of weeks ago and I was impressed. I’m considering adding him to my FoodNetwork TiVo list.

    DRJ (09f144)

  12. “She’s great but too much fried food and mayonnaise for our house.”

    I agree re her food being too fattening and heavy – but to me she personifies goodness and kindness and the ability to love just about anyone. What a gift she has!

    Dana (44f154)

  13. I got my first Christmas gift, from my neighbors who insisted that I open it right away. The Hillary nutcracker. Honest Injun.

    nk (c87736)

  14. DRJ, I think “Good Eats” will become a household favorite… Science and cooking? How can you go wrong?? Equipment suggestions/guides? Full of Win!!

    And NK, you have the best neighbors ever…

    Scott Jacobs (4133ae)

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