Playlist of the Month: A Very Cookies + Sangria Christmas

Can you believe that Christmas is just DAYS away, you guys??? Unless you’re Jewish, or celebrate Kwanzaa or are the Grinch, so this doesn’t really apply to you. For this month’s playlist, the last and final one of 2013, we decided to stick with a traditional theme and go with our favorite holiday songs. I’m sure by now you’ve heard plenty of them on rotation already, but what’s a few more? Happy listening! And Merry Christmas/Happy Belated Hanukkah/Happy Kwanzaa/Happy December to all!!!

Click here to listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!
spotify:user:122917273:playlist:2SiQGCxAAb7WB1jPEf7nU9

Traci’s Picks

If Everyday Could Be Christmas – 98 Degrees

I’m warning y’all now, my portion of the playlist will be pop heavy and seem like a tween in 2000 made it. Mainly because I still feel like I am. I’m starting off with 98 Degrees, because I think this album was overlooked by a lot of people (I don’t blame you), but I think it’s actually their second best album out of anything they’ve ever released. Their strong suit was always their acappella skills, and it’s prominently shown in this song.

(PS: That video is ridic but the only version I could find!)

Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith

Anyone out there celebrate Chrismukkah? Anyone out there celebrate Christmukkah because of Seth Cohen? Well we can thank our fave faux Newport Beach resident for bringing that term into our lives, and we can also thank The OC for bringing great songs into our lives. Music was always an integral part of the show, and come Chrismukkah time, it was no different. I’ve been listening to this song ever since it was on one of the holiday eps and it never gets old.

Last Christmas – Glee Cast Version

Last Christmas is possibly my favorite modern day holiday song, and obviously many artists have covered it. I opted to choose this song featuring Lea Michele and Cory Monteith. I’ve never been a real hard core fan of the show, but for some reason his death really got to me and still gets me to this day. But it’s nice to know his talent and legacy will live on through the show and its music.

My Only Wish (This Year) – Britney Spears

This song was featured on the Platinum Christmas album which was released in 2000. For those who didn’t grow up listening to this like I did, it featured the biggest names in pop music including my beloved BSB, ‘N Sync, Christina Aguilera, TLC, Monica and more. I personally think this track by Brit Brit is one of her best in general, it’s just so fun and uplifting and you can’t help but dance to it. Speaking of dance to it, my friend and I may or may not have made up a ridiculous dance to this song in college. Private viewings available for a fee.

What Christmas Means to Me – Hanson

Snowed In. Classic Christmas album of the 90s and beyond. Zak sounds like a baby here, but hey, they still sound better than I ever did as a teenager.

*Ed. Note: We usually pick 5 songs each, but I couldn’t decide, so here are two bonus songs for as your Christmas bonus this year ūüôā

It’s Christmas Time Again – Backstreet Boys

I like the Backstreet Boys and you can’t stop me from putting them on this list. So suck it. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson

It’s about time KC did a Christmas album and her lead single is reminiscent of Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas is You. Although it’s nowhere near the popularity of MC, Kelly is giving her a run for her money with this jam.

Molly’s Picks

I Wish It Was Christmas Today by Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan

In the 2000 years of Christmas songs, is this really one of the best EVER? If you go by the giddy Christmas-y feeling you get every time it airs on the SNL Christmas episode, maybe it is. The great thing about this song – and I’d say this of¬†the original SNL cast performing Winter Wonderland as well – is that while it somewhat pokes fun at stupid Christmas songs, it does so without being nasty or cynical. It’s pure holiday happiness.

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey

90s kids know what I’m talking about. If you can, get your hands on All I Want For Christmas Is You (Extra Festive). How can you make this song MORE festive, you may ask? Well,¬† add some bells and shit and make the beginning of it sound like a song from Beauty And The Beast: The Musical. By the way, of course Ariana Grande has covered this and of course it’s amazing.

Once In Royal David’s City by Sufjan Stevens (cover)

I won’t fill the playlist with them, but my real favorite Christmas songs are all¬†traditional hymns that are a little less common than Silent Night and Adeste Fidelis. So, imagine my delight that Sufjan Stevens has covered Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming, The Friendly Beasts, Once In Royal David’s City, Bring A Torch Jeanette, Isabella, and I Saw Three Ships

The Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne

Leave it to Jackson Browne to cut through all of the sap and remind us what we message we really should be taking from the Christmas story.

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues

Sometimes you need a Christmas song with lyrics like ¬†“you’re a bum, you’re a punk/ you’re an old slut on junk”.” Besides, I’m making my list first and in the spirit of the holiday, I should probably leave some of the White Christmas/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas-like classics for my friend.

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12 Days Of 90s Christmas Episodes

Christmas Eve is only a week away, and if you haven’t gotten yourself into the spirit yet, it’s time to start — unless you don’t celebrate Christmas,¬†in which case,¬†carry on as you were. In the spirit of the season, we present you with a dozen days’ worth of 90s Christmas episodes, because if there’s a perfect cross-section of things we love, it’s 90s, tv, and holidays.

Enjoy a restrained viewing experience of an episode per day from now til the end of Christmas week, or spend a solid 6-12 hour block binging on holiday cheer. Extra-awesome: the episodes are ordered chronologically, so you can follow all of the wacky hair trends, silly fashions, and political references (this is probably the only Christmas post you’ll read this year that mentions the Clinton impeachment).

DAY ONE

Family Matters – Have Yourself A Merry Winslow Christmas (1990)

Family Matters never shied away from showing you the weird love-hate, codependent, mocking¬†relationship the grown-assed-adult Winslows had with the sad, outcast teenaged boy next door. In this episode, Steve ruins the Winslows’ Chrismas (of course!) but is invited over after Laura finds him alone in his basement, abandoned by his real family. Shouldn’t somebody call child protective?

Babysitters Club – Baby Sitters Special Christmas (1990)

Don’t they mean SUPER-Special Christmas? Come on, Ann M. Martin! Believe it or not, this is streaming on Netflix

DAY TWO

Saved By The Bell – Home For Christmas (1991)

Everybody gets mall jobs and then they make friends with a homeless girl who we never see again. What’s not to love? (Teen homelessness).

The Cosby Show – Clair’s Place (1991)

Cliff builds a special room for Clair, the family decorates the tree, and there are cookies. Christmas is honestly just a backdrop for an entire episode built on the theme “MAMA JUST NEEDS SOME ‘ME TIME'”.

DAY THREE

Rugrats – The Santa Experience (1992)

Hard to believe that mere infants at the time this episode aired are now of legal drinking age. As are Tommy and the gang, come to think of it. There’s just too much good stuff in this episode – a coveted Deluxe Cynthia toy, the adults getting thwarted when they try to dress as Santa, a Gift of the Magi situation between Phil and Lil, and a cozy getaway cabin.

DAY FOUR

Roseanne – White Trash Christmas (1993)

In the most Roseanne-y Christmas move ever, the family rebels against neighborhood decoration rules by decorating their house real trashy-like. Also, Fake Becky works at Fake Hooters.

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air: ‘Twas The Night Before Christening (1993)

Sure, it isn’t the best Christmas episode ever, but it is the only one featuring Boyz II Men. Good news: they perform at Nicky’s christening. Bad news: That one guy doesn’t start the song by talking all low and deep, something like “Boy… today we dedicate you to God. But first, I dedicate my love… all of my love… and this song” and then they all start doing a dance with folding chairs. That’s how I’d have played it.

DAY FIVE

My So-Called Life – So-Called Angels (1994)

Some of the best Christmas episodes don’t as much warm your heart, so much as cut it open¬†like a merry Yuletide knife. I mean, Angel Juliana Hatfield? Little Ricky with his little candles? Brian on the helpline? MSCL always tugs at my heartstrings (remember Rayanne with Sesame Street and the song about the car?), and this episode¬†just proves why Claire Danes has been making us all ugly cry for 2 decades.

DAY SIX

Full House – Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1994)

This episode is from Full House’s golden age, and boy does it show. It has a Michelle-centric plot, a person stranded away from family before Christmas (Jesse gets arrested), a guest star who’s probably too good for this (Mickey Rooney), and my all-time favorite Christmas episode trope — the characters helping a crotchety old man reconnect with his family at Christmas.

DAY SEVEN

Living Single – Let It Snow, Let It Snow Let it Snow… Dammit (1995)

The crew celebrates Christmas in a Canadian cabin, there’s a Mountie, Synclaire dyes his Santa suit pink, and we all learn the Real Meaning Of Christmas (TM).

Home Improvement – Twas The Flight Before Christmas (1995)

You know, tv had me believe that I’d be stuck in an airport during major holidays way more than I actually have. Bonus: this episode aired at the height of JTT mania, so you can watch this and try to remember what we were all thinking. This episode has such a truly witty and spectacular title that it was re-used by an episode of the Disney show Dog With A Blog (which sounds like an insult someone would use if they hate me and also think I’m ugly).

DAY EIGHT

The Adventures Of Pete And Pete – O’ Christmas Pete (1996)

If anyone dares question why us millenials have been flocking to quirky independent comedies since our teen years, I’d point them to The Adventures Of Pete And Pete. Unlike the shiny neon Nickelodeon shows of today, Pete and Pete was decidedly offbeat. This Christmas episode shows what happens when a kid follows the universal desire to keep Christmas going as long as possible. Even as an adult, I still hate that 12/26 slump.

DAY NINE

Seinfeld – The Strike (1997)

My family celebrates Festivus off-and-on. I hold my own in the Airing of Grievances, but¬†the Feats Of Strength didn’t go so well as an 11-year-old girl with two giant older brothers.

DAY TEN

 Ally McBeal РMaking Spirits Bright (1998)

Vonda Shepherd sings, there’s a Christmas party at the office, Billy defends a man who claimed to see a unicorn, and we find out that Young Ally also saw a unicorn, because she clearly has a lifetime history of hallucinations that she probably should have looked into at some point.

DAY ELEVEN

Saturday Night Live – Alec Baldwin (1998)

Fond, awkward family memories: my whole family – grandparents, siblings, aunts, etc – were all watching this episode when the Schweddy Balls sketch aired. We all tried to stifle our laughter – to no avail – while keeping my Grammy in our peripheral vision. She was super-proper and prayed the rosary every day. An all-around good episode, it also aired at the height of the Clinton impeachment scandal, and included a sketch where Molly Shannon plays a clown with weird feelings about a little girl who looks like a grown man, a Bill Brasky segment, and a Harlem Globetrotters Christmas cartoon.

DAY TWELVE

Friends – The One With The Routine (1999)

You know, you should really watch all of the Friends Christmas eps, but I like ending our series with this one because it’s also a New Year ep. Favorite parts: the “AZ” and the routine, which I compulsively rewound with my friend Jenny to learn all of the steps when we were supposed to be watching her baby sister.

Thanksgiving Foods That Say “Screw It” So You Don’t Have To

Every Thanksgiving has one: the participant who¬†just doesn’t care. If you’re thinking “I don’t know, I haven’t really cared enough to notice who that would be,” then it’s you, buddy. It’s you. It’s hard to have a dismissive attitude toward a holiday that’s based around gratitude and food, but these folks manage. ¬†Asked to bring a dish to pass, they’ll bring, at worst, a literal empty dish, and at best, one of the following items.

Obviously if you’re bringing one of these because you were asked to, because it’s your tradition, or because of financial or dietary reasons, I’d never judge you. But if that isn’t the case, please realize that nobody is picturing you traipsing through the supermarket squealing “Oh, goody! I’ll bring the canned cranberry sauce – what a treat!” We picture you tossing the jar into a basket on the way to dinner, with a shrug and a resigned “Eh, screw it.” And if you don’t literally say “eh, screw it,” these foods will do it for you:

Can-Shaped Cranberry Sauce

If you’re supposed to bring the cranberry sauce, and you serve a can-shaped loaf of congealed cran-slop, it better be a joke. Like, maybe your friend group thinks it’s funny when food takes the shape of its packaging, or maybe your family always made fun of¬† your grandma’s canned cranberry sauce – which presumably she brought because she was drunk or hated all of you.¬†Okay. Fine.

But really, if you have been trusted with cranberry sauce, don’t turn it into a joke dish unless you know everyone’s on board — because seriously, can-shaped cran-sauce is the gag gift of Thanksgiving. If everyone’s bringing silly dishes, go for it! It’ll be like a jokey Yankee Swap but with foods instead of dollar-store items. Think hard, though: do you really want the person in charge of meat to bring Spam? Because that’s where things are headed when you serve canned cran.

Instant Mashed Potatoes

In college, the dining hall publicly posted comments and complaints. Despite our youthful desire to send in some sort of filthy comment, my friend ended up writing a wholly serious question: “What with the instants?”

Again, I ask to you: what with the instants? At their most basic, mashed potatoes are as easy as it gets: boil, add some kind of dairy or dairy-equivalent, mash. There’s really no need for instants, which by the way look like soap flakes. I think they probably taste like soap flakes too – but I can’t be sure, because I don’t know any little boys from the 1920s who got soap in their mouths because they sassed their parents.

Burned Canned Crescent Rolls

If Thanksgiving Dinner is high school, the turkey is the homecoming queen or head jock, the stuffing is the cool indie kid who knows all the good music but doesn’t play the popularity game, and the rolls are that kid who you see in the yearbook Senior year and say “wait… does he go here?” It’s no surprise that a lot of us don’t bother with homemade rolls, or even ones from a good bakery.

Rolls are clearly a low-tier Thanksgiving food, and usually Pillsbury’s will do just fine. But if your job was to handle the rolls, and all you can produce is burned crescent rolls, you really didn’t try hard. I think that about 3/5 of food-related arguments on Thanksgiving include the phrase “ALL you had to do was the ROLLS.” Another 1/5 will contain the related complaint: “We gave you ONE thing. ONE.” The other 1/5 are usually weird family stuff that you should probably deal with.

Spaghetti

No no no no. There was I guess a “campaign” a while ago to make spaghetti carbonara the official Thanksgiving food. Yeah. That’s about as much of a campaign as when the Yippies ran a pig for presidential office in the 60s. Not gonna happen. I think pasta is fine on Thanksgiving – as a vegetarian, it gives me a nice main dish. But you know, don’t we have enough carbs? As long as some dumb-dumb didn’t burn the rolls?

What it comes down to is, if there’s going to be pasta it should at least require a reasonable amount of effort. My grandma used to make lasagna every year. Lasagna is¬†fine. Stuffed shells are fine. Spaghetti is NOT fine unless someone brought a toddler who’s going through a spaghetti-only phase or something.

Frozen Corn, Defrosted

A lot of people feel like you’re supposed to serve some kind of a “vegetable” on Thanksgiving. Me, I like my dinner to be a food version of trash fiction: 50 Shades Of Brown. Even these vegetable folks usually pay lip service to the whole well-rounded diet thing by defrosting a pack of¬† frozen corn. I suppose defrosting the corn yourself isn’t quite as bad as handing your host a bag of frozen corn and asking them to do it, so there’s that. To make it more like the first Thanksgiving, you can call the corn “maize” and steal it from your neighbors.

Green Been Casserole

Let’s be clear. This dish says “screw it” to complicated recipes. It says “screw it” to health. It says “screw it” to pretension. However, it says a resounding “hell yes!” to deliciousness. Yeah, we all know you didn’t have to slave over the green been casserole – but we all love you for your lack of effort. Of course, I’m talking about the kind made of frozen beans, canned soup, and freeze-dried “onions” (“astronaut onions,” if you will). By far the best – and dare I say, an essential – lazy Thanksgiving dish. This dish is why someday I’ll finally get that “sodium 4ever” tattoo, or maybe a salt shaker inside of a heart, and just hope that I’m never in a situation where I want to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. I’d forego that for this dish.