For a few months a year, we live inside a winter postcard, complete with characters dressed in tweed, snowmen, and little shops whose owners are not only friends, but participants of our own family traditions. And our city defines many of our holiday rituals.
I have come to build my own city ritual to include reminders of Christmas in Mexico, warm drinks and the ever-evolving search for new meaning to the season. Here is my curated "12 days of Christmas" for ways to snack, drink, listen and watch the holiday culture overflowing around us until Dec. 24.
Dec. 12 Try champurrado -- Champurrado is a type of mexican hot chocolate made with maize, and prepared during Christmastime. If you are feeling religiously adventurous, Holy Spirit Catholic Church on the eastside of Indy celebrates the holiday of Our Lady of Guadalupe and will serve champurrado after mass. Or you can try making it at home.
Dec. 13 Sip hot cider -- With many orchards to choose from, it was inevitable that I, too, would become a convert of this all-American magical drink and its many variations. One is mulled cider with its clove, orange zest and cinnamon spices. I like the straight-up hot cider at Adrian Orchards because I can drink it while I browse their store, or just sit by the fire and enjoy it.
Dec. 14 Swig eggnog -- This is another drink that was not part of my winter repertoire until I moved to the United States. I still remember my first drink of a generic eggnog while visiting Atlanta almost six years ago. But let me tell you, there is nothing like Trader's Point Creamery Eggnog. Liquid gold. Indiana goodness.
Dec. 15 Take in a holiday production -- A good show can really set the tone for the season. One year I was feeling quite Grinchy around this time, but I my heart grew three sizes after going to my sister's High School Yuletide Celebration. Good shows are not hard to come by in our city, and this year is no exception, as White Rabbit Cabaret will be hosting Angie Pontani, "The Reigning Queen of Burlesque, " with the Burlesque-A-Pades Christmas Shimmy Show. Nothing says jingle bells like a good shimmy.
Dec. 16 Eat tamales -- Because they are tedious to prepare, the extra pairs of hands that come with family gatherings make Christmas the tamal season. For my family, tamal season is year-round. But eating tamales in the winter holds special meaning for us, because we know that when we eat them, our friends in Monterrey are eating them too.
Dec. 17 Drink seasonal beers -- You can go on a wild goose chase for all of our local brewery's seasonal selections, or you can go to Goose The Market's Holiday Beer Tasting and try them all in one sitting. Either way, local beers should be part of a hearty Hoosier's winter ritual, because we have really good beer in Indiana.
Dec. 18 Go caroling -- I am not gonna lie; I have never been caroling in my life. But I have been karaoking plenty of times, and there are very few times when singing Christmas songs is karaoke-appropriate. So use this day wisely and sing Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You, getting local strangers and your handful of supportive friends alike into the spirit of the season.
Dec. 19 Listen to Amo Joy's Christmas -- My husband and I have a special place in our hearts for Amo Joy from his days of playing shows with them, and from knowing them through the years. This will be our fourth year listening to Christmas, and we have been married for five. This is how we have been jamming for most of our years together. Amo Joy will be playing their holiday set live once again at Fountain Square Brewery with all beer, raffle ticket, and art sales in benefit of MFT (Musical Family Tree).
Dec. 20 Celebrate the cosmos -- Before there was Christmas, there was Winter Solstice. Our city has had an arising pagan community celebrating "the return of the sun" for 10 years now. As a person who is interested in religious studies and rituals, I am excited to attend the Annual Winter Solstice celebration for the first time at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis. Other celebrations will also take place at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Dec. 21 Warm up with hot cocoa -- The Best Chocolate in Town has hands down the best hot chocolate in my opinion. You can choose from milk chocolate or dark. And you can also make it spicy, which is my preference. Or add some coffee to it. Who's going to argue with a customizable cup of cocoa?
Dec. 22 Peppermint yourself -- At some point during these days, I end up feeling my surroundings have a little too much cheer in them. Taking time to myself is important, but there is no reason to tune it all out. Peppermint is not just good sprinkled over whipped cream, it can also be mood-uplifting and help relieve fatigue. Getting a small bunch from my local grocer and crushing it in a warm bath is the present I give myself.
Dec. 23 Have a proper nightcap -- Before all your relatives come over, I suggest you have a hot toddy in the style of the Dorman Street Saloon. French-pressed Earl Grey tea with honey, lemon, and a generous dash of Bourbon served in an Irish Coffee glass, the drink promises to soothe and guard against cold or flu symptoms. But it also has bourbon, which is my favorite ingredient.
So to some, Linus perfectly summarizes the meaning of Christmas while to others it all sounds more like a neverending Chipmunk's song. But regardless of how we feel about the holiday season, is anyone immune to all of the joys of December? Haven't we all had a moment of breathlessness when faced with a blanket of snow pressed tight against a clear night sky, pierced only by the naked trees?
What are your holiday rituals and traditions? I'd really like to learn about others that are being celebrated throughout our city. Please share.