November Obsessions: Feeling Festive and Full

I find that my holiday spirit varies from year to year. There have been times when come Christmas Day, I still wasn’t in the mood for so much joy and cheer. I remember ages ago when I worked at mall portrait studio, we began the festive themed props as early as November 1. It struck me that in recent years, people have gotten really judgmental about starting to enjoy the season “too early.” and I thought, who cares? As much as people complain about how quickly Christmas always seems to arrive, doesn’t it make sense to embrace the spirit early on so that you’re enjoying it for as long as possible?

People want to start hanging lights and singing carols and get a tree, by all means, let them enjoy what makes them happy. You don’t want to, fine. Hey, I’ve been there, but no need to take it away from others. In fact, you may find yourself embracing a bit more of the spirit yourself when you stop judging and complaining about it. If you need a little help, here are a few ways I’m filling my soul (and belly) with holiday cheer this month.

Christmas Movies

I discovered early on this month I was in the mood to watch Christmas movies. Classics like Elf and Christmas Vacation. Certainly Veterans Day/Armistice Day seemed like the perfect time to watch Joyeaux Noel. So far this month, I’ve already watched several from my favorites list: The Family Stone, The Holiday, Die Hard, and Home Alone


Crimson Crown

I created this shrub cocktail last year, and love how well this goes with Thanksgiving dinner, and carries through the rest of the holiday season.

It’s pretty simple really: equal parts Crown Royal and cranberry juice over ice, 5-7 frozen whole cranberries, twist of orange peel, garnish with shrub of rosemary and top with red wine (here is where you can really experiment because different red wines create so many various flavors of this drink). This year I’m going to experiment with adding a splash of Cointreau. You might be skeptical, but trust me, there’s a reason I’m still obsessed with this concoction.

Themed Thanksgivings

Speaking of Thanksgiving, this year happens to fall on my son’s birthday, and so, as we’ve done in the past at his request, we’re doing something a bit more “themed.”

The last time his birthday was on turkey day, he wanted a 50s diner style dinner— shredded turkey sliders with cranberry slaw, sweet potato fries, classic apple pie, pumpkin milkshakes. It was a ton of fun. So much so we decided a couple of years after that, for no particular reason, to do Mahalo-giving. Yes, you guessed it, Hawaiian themed— Khalua smoked turkey, cran-pineapple relish, sweet bread stuffing, macadamia nut pie— complete with Mai Tais by the pool (well, ok, since it was 30 degrees outside we sat in the hot tub, but close enough). So what’s the theme this year? Southern food. Fried turkey, baked mac and cheese, hush puppies, collard greens, and bourbon pecan pie, to name a few.

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There’s something special about making a traditional feast with a twist. Have you done a themed Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear about it, or whatever other movies or cocktails help you get in the spirit! Here’s wishing you an enjoyable holiday season.

ObsessionsJulie Kanta