My Christmas miracle

My most cherished holiday tradition is baking Christmas cookies.  When I was a kid, all of my cousins, my sister, and I would go to my Grandma Hope’s house and bake Christmas cookies all day long then have a slumber party that night.  (I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes, including the one for Grandma Hope’s candy-cane cookies).  Those early experiences baking in my grandmother’s kitchen are the reason I love to cook today (watching Airport ’77 during the slumber party is why I don’t fly).  Long after the annual tradition faded, I kept baking and decorating my own cookies — I cleaned up one year at the Fair, 13 ribbons–thank you very much and my Christmas cookies were blue ribbon.

Over the years, I’ve added my own special touches to the cookie baking tradition (which, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit is on hiatus this year, and kind of was last year…and the year before that too) — for starters, it is now a two-day process because it’s just not possible to bake 800 cookies all by yourself in one day.  But the most important change I’ve made to the baking process, and one that really is integral to my enjoyment, is Yentl.

No, I’m not lying.


…and I’m warning you, don’t hate on Yentl.  The ire I have for the prop8 crowd will be dwarfed by my intolerance for Yentlphobes.

It started when I was in college.  I was working at Suncoast Movie Company, back in the day when movie store employees were allowed to select the movies that played in the store.  Someone opened Yentl.  I hadn’t seen it before, and I was instantly hooked.  (Then someone else opened The Jazz Singer, the Neil Diamond version, and equally important to baking Christmas cookies).  So I bought both movies on VHS — this was around Christmas — and that year when I baked my cookies, I had Yentl and The Jazz Singer on the whole time…all day for two full days.  I was living in an apartment at the time and the kitchen overlooked the living room so I could watch and sing along the whole time.  In any case, Yentl & The Jazz Singer became inextricably linked to Christmas for me…they are more Christmas to me than It’s A Wonderful Life and The Christmas Story.  Oh, how I wish for a 24-hour Yentl/Jazz Singer-marathon on TBS Christmas Day.  

My one complaint with our current house, is that I cannot see the t.v. from the kitchen and thus it is impossible for me to combine my two true loves and my joy whilst cookie baking, in particular, has suffered. But now, we have the computer in the living room (because Hope’s crib displaced the computer in the bedroom), and the computer plays DVDs.  There’s only one problem.

Yentl is not on DVD.

wtf???  It’s 2008 and no Yentl on DVD?  What are we?  Barbarians?

I still have it (and The Jazz Singer) on VHS, even though I don’t have a VCR anymore.  But it does me no good.  But sometimes I just like to hold them.

Then, last night at 8:32 p.m., my friend Christa called to tell me that Yentl was just starting on TCM.  By 8:35 I had the DVR recording and in a Christmas miracle, Yentl ran commercial-free and un-edited…yes I even got to see Mandy Patinkin’s butt.

I still can’t see the t.v. from the kitchen, and I still don’t have a useable copy of The Jazz Singer–so there’s little point in preheating the oven.  (Yentl is due out on DVD in 2009, so next Christmas there may be cookies).

The Christmas miracle isn’t just that I now, at least, have Yentl on the DVR and can watch it anytime I want to (even if it really is a Christmas movie)–it’s that Grace likes Yentl.

Two nights in a row now, she has sat on my lap in the blue rocker and watched Yentl with me.  Yes, she too got to see Mandy Patinkin’s butt.  I have no idea what she understands, I just know she likes the music…and the papas, there’s lots of papas in Yentl.  I’m going to encourage her Yentl-love, this year is princess Christmas, maybe next year will be a cross-dressing Yeshiva boy Christmas.  One can only hope.

Tammy, who has never embraced my love for Yentl at Christmas…or my love for Yentl period…thinks we’re freaks.  She just doesn’t understand the miracle of Christmas.

p.s.  I feel badly, I didn’t do The Jazz Singer justice in this post…it really is an equally important part of Christmas.  And once I get it on DVD, Grace and I will be even bigger freaks.

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