A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Weird Little Christmas

By Anne Noder-Stesney

Soon my husband, our toddler and I will be spending Christmas with my family. I can’t wait. My mom adores Christmas and it spills into every corner of her house. From the giant 20-footer in the foyer, drenched in lights and ribbons, to the tiny (real!) wreath in the half-bath. No joke. My husband enjoys Christmas with my family as well. Even though he thinks some of the ways we celebrate are, in his words, “weird.”

He thinks it’s weird that we all open our gifts at the same time. “like a group of 5-year-olds,” instead of waiting for each person to open his/her gift. And that we wrap our presents from Santa instead of leaving them out. He thinks it’s weird that we put things from drugstores in our stockings. like gum and toothbrushes, instead of “real” gifts.

Does this bother me? No. Because we spent Thanksgiving with his parents. And let me tell you, his family doesn’t celebrate the “normal” way my family celebrates. Freaks.

See, this is the thing about marriage. Your in-laws are weird. Period. They eat strange food. Have unusual dinner table customs. Say the same dumb jokes over and over and everyone in the bloodline laughs for real while you twitter politely and reach for a fork so you can stab yourself in the eye.

It’s not that we think they’re awful. We’re just not used to their customs and habits, so it can feel a lot like wearing a pair of uncomfortable shoes. Most of my friends have in laws who are kind, well meaning and respectable. After all, they raised the people we adore so they can’t be all that bad. My friend J’s mother-in-law always makes a special portion of saltine toffee for him because she knows how much he loves it. She also leaves her butter out on the counter all day and all night. “It’s mildly gross. But her toffee is amazing,” he says.

It could be a lot worse. I’ve heard stories of bad in-laws—like my friend E’s mother-in-law who told her she was surprised her son picked E because “he usually likes them young and blonde.” Or S’s father-in-law who throws back gallons of whiskey sours and then hugs her a lit-tle too hard for a lit-tle too long. So if I have to put up with the fact that my husband and his family all drink large glasses of milk with their desserts, I’ll take it. Even though it’s really weird.

Janet’s Saltine Toffee Crunch

Courtesy of J’s mother-in-law


40 Saltine crackers

1 cup butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

12 ounces dark chocolate chips

Turn this recipe into a puzzle! {Click}


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange 40 Saltines on foil, single layer, touching. In small saucepan bring butter and brown sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour over crackers and bake 6 - 8 minutes.

Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over, then spread with a spoon or spatula as it melts. Let cool completely and break into chunks. Store covered at room temperature.

Anne Nodar-Stesney earns her living writing ad campaigns and keeps her sanity writing other stuff, particularly comedy sketches and musings on food. For about 5 minutes in 1997, she was a dainty size 2. It was an insult to everything edible, especially butter. She wised up now she adores good food as well as Cheetoes. She lives in Prospect Heights with her husband Fred and their ridiculously cute 1-year-old son, Walt. Anne is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama.

You can read more about her misadventures at goodamericanwife.blogspot.com.