24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 14: Go for a walk

I know what you’re thinking – I’m out of ideas and sick of writing these daily entries. You’re… not entirely wrong.

But this is a real thing that I’m advocating! It’s not just filler like Elf Bowling was! I think that taking a half hour out of your day to go for a winter walk is such a nice, relaxing activity. And you may very well need it after a stressful Monday at the office. I know I often do.

I find that the best times to go out are either early in the morning, or somewhere after dinnertime, when fewer people are out and about creating a ruckus. Natural calm and quiet tend to make for the best walks. The evening is especially nice for a winter walk, when the sun is down and there are lots of decorative lights to enjoy. Even just the regular streetlights and whatnot can lend a calming iridescence to the snow-covered landscapes.

This is all assuming that the weather is decent, of course. You go out on a windy day and you’re going to have a bad time. But if there’s no wind, you could feasibly go out when it’s like -15 and not be too uncomfortable. Bonus points if there’s a light snowfall in progress.

I, in fact, went out for a very pleasant stroll on Saturday, and it was the exact day that winter really started to show up. About -6 or so, with no wind and just the lightest of snowfalls. Basically, the perfect day for a walk. If only I had spent more time enjoying the snow-covered scenery, instead of being totally absorbed by Pokémon GO. But such is the burden we bear on Community Day!

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 13: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Earlier this year, there was a massive online outrage over the purchase of the Peanuts specials by Apple. I didn’t follow it too closely, so I think that people assumed this meant that the specials would no longer be shown on TV, and the collective internet freaked the heck out.

But then Apple confirmed that the specials would still be on TV, and the galaxy was at peace once again.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is the only Peanuts special I’ve ever felt compelled to purchase on physical media. Possibly because it’s the only one I would watch annually on TV as a kid. I’m pretty sure I stopped watching it once I outgrew YTV, and that it was completely purged from my mind at that point, because when I started watching it again in recent years, it felt like I was watching it for the first time again.

You probably know the special – it’s about Charlie Brown becoming disillusioned by the commercialization of Christmas, and trying to find ways to properly get himself in the holiday spirit. It’s a little preachy, and I think that every holiday special that came after would project the same general message. By the time 1970 rolled around, “the true meaning of Christmas” would be a dead horse, beaten year-after-year by every holiday episode and special ever made. Or at least that’s my perception of it.

The funny thing is, I don’t know how much I actually like this special. I watch it because it’s tradition, but I don’t really get a whole lot out of it. There aren’t any especially funny scenes, nothing that really makes me feel particularly strongly in any way, not quotes that I feel compelled to parrot out at every opportunity. Mostly I just spend a lot of time thinking about how much time they pad with that same shot of all the kids dancing in the auditorium.

If I had to make a recommendation… Maybe watch It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, which is the 1990 special. It’s not incredible either, but at least it’s got some jokes. It also has a lot of Peppermint Patty and Marcie, who are my favourite duo of the Peanuts gang.

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 12: DIE HARD

It’s the best holiday movie. I will not waver on this.

Man, it’s DIE HARD. What else do you want me to say? I watch this every year. Though if I’m honest, it’s typically on in the background while I’m baking cookies or doing something else. I don’t remember the last time I sat down to watch this movie with complete focus from start-to-finish, but maybe 2020 is the year. Maybe 2020 will also be the year that I watch Die Hard 2 for the… second time ever?

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 11: Elf Bowling

It’s December 1998. The world is a simpler, kinder place. The internet is still young, and social media is thankfully many years away. My family doesn’t even have the internet yet, so I don’t even know what it’s used for at this point. It’s just a thing that I hear people talk about now and then.

Then one fateful day, my uncle introduces us all to the biggest phenomenon of the decade: Elf Bowling.

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24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 10: Festive Cookies

Come on. This is basic. Do I even really have to write anything?

I suppose that I could try to give out some ideas on making more creative cookies, but… I usually just go with the classic chocolate chip. Toss some red and green sprinkles on there and suddenly they’re seasonally appropriate. Oh, and when I’m doing a batch just for me, I also apply just the tiniest bit of peppermint flavour. I’m a big fan, but focus group testing has suggested that most people aren’t into it. An unrelated test showed that those same people are big dumb poopy-heads.

Truth be told, I did actually go all out last year. I dyed half of my cookies green and half of them red. I then glued one of each together with some vanilla icing to make really incredible chocolate chip cookie sandwiches. They were probably the best cookies I’ve ever made. And then at both Xmas and New Year’s, everyone proceeded to ignore them completely and I ended up taking them all home to eat myself, resulting in me re-gaining all the excess weight that I’d lost over the course of the year.

And that’s why I’ll never bring anything to family gatherings again.

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 9: Holiday Reading

I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck don’t have any reading material that’s holiday-appropriate by any means. There may be some good holiday novels out there, but in my experience it’s all sappy dreck. So I don’t know why I thought that this was a good idea.

Oh, wait! There’s a faint glimmer of light in the darkness – comics!

Yep, I’ve pored over all the comics I own (which is not many, but probably still more than you would assume), and I’ve found… exactly one special issue. Well, it’s something!

From Hack/Slash Omnibus Volume 4, we have The Gift of Hack/Slash. Now, you’re probably not familiar with Hack/Slash, and honestly I wouldn’t blame you for it. This is a comic series which -to put it very briefly- is about a duo of vigilantes who hunt down “slashers”, which is a cute way of saying “villains inspired by horror movies”. And also sometimes there are crossovers with actual villains from horror movies.

Truth be told, this isn’t really even much of a holiday special. It’s four pages long and you have to squint really hard to see any holiday-related meaning. It’s all in that cover. And that’s all I’ve got.

I did once win a more holiday-themed novel as part of a raffle prize basket, but I immediately gave it to my mom because it was clearly just shlocky romantic nonsense. And I do not tolerate romance in my shlocky nonsense.

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 8: Gingerbread House

Back in the day, one of the most exciting things about the Xmas season is that my grandparents would always make a huge, elaborate gingerbread house, and send it over for us. There was always some contention over when it was okay to start eating it, and you know darn well that I would spend the season picking away at little bits of it.

Honestly, I think the buildup and bit-sneaking was actually the best part. Gingerbread houses have never been quite as delicious as I want them to be. It might be because I don’t really like gingerbread as much as I feel like I should. A nice gingerbread house is always delightful to have around, though. Makes for a really nice showpiece.

I’ve never actually made a gingerbread house myself, though. And this year shall be no exception! I’m not shelling out for a proper kit! Those things cost way more than they’re worth. However…

I do in fact have a gingerbread Millennium Falcon. I got this for Xmas (or maybe slightly before) like five years ago, and never took the time to put it together. It’s just been sitting in my cupboard all this time.

The disappointing thing about this kit is that you don’t really get to make anything with it. The Falcon itself is just a single, giant slab of gingerbread. The base is made out of four chunks that you need to glue together with icing, but that’s it. Your only real creative outlet with this kit is where you slather the remaining icing to glue on the little candy balls that come with it. Not the most compelling.

Now we need to factor in how this kit is over four years past its best before date, and we get to the real problems. The gingerbread was covered with a slimy film, which I don’t even really know what that is or how it happened. I mean, I guess it’s some sort of mold, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Then you have the icing, which was congealed into a solid brick. I tried to soften it up by leaving it in a pot of boiling water for a bit, but that just caused the brick to weaken and break down into crumbs, rather than to return to a fluid state that I was expecting.

And so, my great gingerbread project was a complete and total failure. I didn’t even get to eat it afterwards because time had left every aspect of it in a rather disgusting state. Even the little candy balls had lost all flavour, or at least I’m presuming that they did. It could be that they were garbage to begin with. Hopefully, if you do your own gingerbread something-or-other, it will not be nearly as disastrous as mine. I have nobody to blame but myself, though, for sleeping on this for so long.

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 7: Make a Snowman

Okay, so, this one may or may not be viable depending on where you live or the current weather situation. For me, there’s barely been any snow, so a snowman isn’t really an option. Also I don’t have a yard or anything so I’d have to go out into a park or something to make a snowman. Which I maintain that I would do under the correct circumstances, but again – there hasn’t really been a good amount of snow yet.

My grand plan was to make a small snowman on my balcony, posed in a way where he’s leaned up against the window, trying to get inside. I don’t know that I’m a skilled enough snowman-crafter to have pulled it off, but the dream was nice. Maybe I’ll still try it once we finally get some snow.

I did make this little snowman out of marshmallows, though. That counts… right? Lookit his li’l chocolate chip eyes.! So cute! UwU

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 6: Holiday Episodes

If there’s one thing that irks me a little bit about not having television, it’s that I can’t just have a non-stop stream of holiday-themed episodes playing in my place all day long. I mean, I could, but that would require effort, and Sunday’s just not the day for effort.

Today, my suggestion for keeping yourself busy is to watch holiday episodes from a few of your favourite shows. While not every series does holiday episodes, most of them absolutely do. Probably even one per season, in most cases. So if you have a DVD collection, or a streaming service, or some kind of television thieving device, it shouldn’t take long to track some down.

Personally, there are exactly three that I like to incorporate into my festive traditions. The first is from Community, and it actually the only real holiday “episode” of the bunch, since the other two are technically specials. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” from the second season, is almost definitely my favourite holiday episode of any show. It’s almost completely done in stop-motion animation, has a mystery at the heart of the plot, and tells a genuinely heartfelt story.

My second choice is the BoJack Horseman holiday special. This one is actually a Christmas episode of the Horsin’ Around show-within-a-show, and has BoJack and Todd watching it together as a framing device. Since it’s a riff on old 80’s sitcoms, it’s a lot like they cynical holiday episodes you’ll get from those kinds of shows, but more satirical, since it’s BoJack Horseman.

Finally, we come to the Trailer Park Boys holiday special, “Dear Santa Claus, Go F**k Yourself”. Interestingly, this one is set at least a year before the TV series, so you get to see somewhat younger and different versions of the characters. Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are all the same as usual, though, and the special actually plays out a lot like a very short season of the show.

So those are my three big picks. If I had to give a general recommendation for just one? Easily Community. You don’t need to be overly familiar with the rest of the show to really appreciate it, and I think you need at least a little bit of base knowledge to fully enjoy BoJack‘s. Trailer Park Boys is a real hit-or-miss kind of thing in general, but being placed outside the show’s timeline does make it a little more accessible to newcomers.

It’s also worth mentioning that all three episodes I’ve listed above are available on Netflix. One (BoJack) is exclusively so, and the other two you could theoretically get on DVD. (Do they still print DVDs?) I don’t know where else they might be streaming.

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 5: Christmas Vacation

It’s Saturday night, you’re stuck at home, there’s a blizzard raging on outside. What are you to do? Curl up on the couch under a big blanket with a moose mug full of egg nog, and watch yourself some National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. That’s what you’re to do.

This may surprise you, but I actually only watched Christmas Vacation for the first time last year. Yup. 30 years later, I finally got around to it. Though it didn’t really feel like I was only watching it for the first time, since I’ve absorbed so much of the film through constant pop culture references. Dinosaur Dracula has had a lot to do with that.

I was worried a little bit when I first popped it on. I didn’t want to watch this beloved classic, which I have only ever heard good things about, and end up not liking it. Fortunately, that didn’t come to pass. I don’t think that Christmas Vacation is quite so good that it belongs in the pantheon of timeless classics, but I certainly enjoyed it enough that I intend on adding it to my list of Holiday Must-Watch Movies. And I’m sure that my appreciation for it will only increase with repeated viewings.

Please note that while I do intend to recommend more movies throughout this feature, this is the only one that’s an actual Christmas- and/or Other Holiday-themed film. The rest are set during Christmastime, but it’s not an overly important facet of any of the plots. Care to venture a guess at what they might be?