Friday, December 23, 2011


It’s getting close to noon on the Friday before a federal holiday weekend (and a major one at that) so I am hopeful in a fashion that borders on over-entitled expectation that very soon I will get an e-mail announcing exactly how early the office will be closing. Mostly I’m hopeful; a tiny part of me is genuinely worried that so many people, including high ranking bosses-of-bosses, have taken off already for Christmas vacation that there is no one left in the entire Big Gray complex who is properly empowered to authorize the mystical 59 Minute Rule. We shall see!

But in the interest of getting a fifth and final (probably?) post in on Christmas week, I did want to mention something from last weekend. On Saturday I went to a cookie swap party, hosted (and almost exclusively attended) by old college friends. The party is an annual tradition and I spent the better part of the last year planning on baking something special for the 2011 edition: a Krampus Cake. I like cake, I think the Krampus is one of Christmas’s most insanely awesome lesser-known bits of folklore, and I had a notion of how I could fairly easily convert a round cake into a shape approximating the ferocious horned visage of Santa’s terrifying disciplinarian minion.

''The demon would then carry the dismembered bodies back to the underworld and devour the human flesh at his leisure.''
It turned out to be a little trickier than I expected but I did manage to get the cake baked, carved up, reassembled, frosted and detail-decorated in time for the party. And then, en route to the gathering, I started feeling shame and remorse. What was I doing? The cake was too weird, the reference too obscure, everyone at the party would look at me askance and wonder (possibly out loud) “What is wrong with you?” A Krampus Cake? Seriously?

I got to the party and headed straight for the dining room table with my cake (and with four dozen cookies, too, because I wasn’t trying to weasel out of the whole party concept altogether) and saw some of the offerings already on display, which caused the first words out of my mouth to the hosts to be, “Dude, are those gingerbread ninjas?” Because of course they were.

Clearly between my long commute, my house upkeep, my two small children, my wife whose work schedule is staggered from mine by design, and sundry other things, I don’t get to hang out with my college friends very often, at least not often enough to always remember that they are all as weird and geeky as I am and the strange things I do to entertain myself do not constitute outlying behavior among the group. (It turned out about half the people at the party knew what a Krampus was, and the other half were moderately amused to be introduced to the concept.) In fact, the gingerbread ninjas (or ninjerbread, if you prefer) were the least of the dorkiness on display at the party, which had been stealthily given a Star Wars theme including Wookiee Cookies and Yoda Soda. I only wish the theme had been publicized earlier – with minor modifications my Krampus Cake could have been a Wampa.

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