Well the Christmas season is upon us. Or if you’ve been keeping score at home, the third month of the Christmas season is upon us (Jack o’ lanterns count as Christmas decorations now, right?).
It’s time to put away the pumpkin flavoring, double down on the peppermint, and steel yourself for the relentless gauntlet of anger and frustration that is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time for giving, a time for reconnecting, and a time for realizing who in your life has absolutely no idea what your interests are. (A Long John Silver’s gift card. Thanks.)
For me it’s time to make my annual “You Don’t Have to Buy Me Anything for Christmas, But If You Must, Please, No Mugs” decree to my students and then sit back and watch all of the D students who can’t remember to do their homework proudly offer me a mug the day before vacation starts.
This has always been my favorite time of year. I never really had any Christmas traditions to speak of growing up, but a few have sprung forth from the tinsel of my adulthood. Every year I make a thorough examination of my mother’s second Christmas tree, which is exclusively decorated with Star Trek ornaments, being sure to comment on this year’s additions (The U.S.S. Kelvin, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and the Gorn trying to stab Kirk to death).
When I’m motivated, I set up and meticulously craft my Department 56 Christmas village, though sadly it will remain boxed this year due to my wife’s new Etsy initiative that is currently taking up all the space in our dining room. It’s the villagers who suffer.
And of course I settle in for my two favorite Christmas movies, Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story. Now if I had a cool blog (at the very least one with a nonstandard theme [I really need to get on that soon]) then I’d do a series of holiday posts all about the food products in my favorite holiday films. But as I racked my brain I could only come up with two. Lime Jell-O from Christmas Vacation and Ovaltine from A Christmas Story. If you can think of more, please let me know. And if I can convince myself anyone would care about a Lime Jell-O review, then maybe there’ll be more than one post in this series that is not a series.
A Christmas Story is amazing for more reasons than I’m going to be able to cover here, but I can think of no other scene in cinema that better captures the disillusionment and loss of childhood innocence than the Ovaltine scene in A Christmas Story. That moment when you realize you’re a targeted demographic and not a discerning receiver of cool kid-centered culture. I can’t remember when that happened for me, but as an adult who’s been reconnecting with a lot of childhood cartoon favorites lately, I’ve come to realize that all of them were garbage. Even the most beloved and fondly remembered. Garbage. Looking at you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Nostalgia goes a long way, I guess. Long enough to make me forget how utterly annoying and moronic Michelangelo was.
What am I doing? Talking about the Ninja Turtles in a Christmas post? Sorry.
I have a very foggy memory of drinking Ovaltine as a child. Not drinking it as a staple of my weekly diet. I have one specific memory of being in the kitchen and looking at an orange-lidded jar. I think I was five or so. And that was the last time I had Ovaltine.
Having not thought about Ovaltine in thirty years, I figured no one else had either. I assumed I’d have to take to the onlines and buy a jar, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t sitting on the shelf of the local grocer.
Fudge me, Chocolate Malt Ovaltine is pretty good, you guys! It’s chocolatey. It’s mildly malty. It’s good. I was expecting a ton of sweetness a la every major chocolate milk I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t. That’s gotta be good for the kids. It made an otherwise horrific glass of milk seem like an enjoyable treat. (I’m milk intolerant. Not lactose intolerant, like I can’t handle lactose. I’m not tolerant of milk as an entity because it’s gross.)
Snacklings, if you haven’t connected with Ovaltine in a while, maybe this winter is the time. Rekindling relationships with dairy-based beverages is what the holidays are all about.
Son of a bitch.