The Story of Winterval

Radix and Persephone used to always celebrate Christmas with Persephone's weird family. Not that Radix's family weren't weird, but they're Jewish. So thank god that was one less thing to deal with during the holidays, because Persephone's family had a lot going on.

Persephone's father was so super religious that he didn't believe in Christmas. What he believed was that he had calculated the actual date of Christ's birth, and that this was some time in July. Because God wouldn't send the mother of his child on a walking tour of Palestine in the dead of winter, it makes no sense. She didn't see why it had to make sense, but then again the notion of an unreliable father figure was not exactly incomprehensible.

Also Persephone's sister tended to volunteer to work on Christmas, so we finally moved the whole damn celebration to New Year's Day. Still it's a nice thing to get together with your family and to give presents, even though you have to shout "Happy New Year" instead of "Merry Christmas." Then Persephone's two sisters decided amongst themselves that there would be no more presents. Except for the kids, their mom added as an afterthought.

"Thank god," said Radix to that. "Christmas is a pain in the ass."

Well, Persephone liked Christmas. With presents. What could she do, though? She was already outvoted by her sisters. She didn't know yet that only having to buy two presents is the best thing ever. And she was hardly going to demand that people give her presents, if they didn't want to in their hearts. She isn't that kind of person. She wants people to want to.

So then it was Christmas, and there was nothing to do. Radix was happy. "There should be nothing special about Christmas. It should just be an ordinary day."

Persephone locked herself in the bathroom and had hysterics. When Persephone has hysterics, it is not a joke. Radix thought that he was going to have to take the hinges off the bathroom door. Or hop on a bus. Or you know, get a divorce.

When Persephone finally came out of the bathroom, Radix shakily agreed that there would be some winter celebration chez Munt from then on. Something that respected his feelings as a Jew and that provided her with the feeling of celebration from her childhood Christmases, minus the alcoholic shouting.

"I want it to be like Kwanzaa," she sniffled.

"But we're not black," Radix protested.

Persephone said very crossly, "It wouldn't be Kwanzaa. It would be like Kwanzaa. Like Kwanzaa goes from Christmas to New Year. Except I want it to start on the solstice. And I want to eat fried food, like for Hanukkah."

And a few minutes later, they came up with the name for this new winter festival.

The Schedule of Winterval

(A Work in Progress)

Get presents for advent calendar, get plastic for windows

last Thursday of November
Prep HATS ON, set up advent calendar

Winterval Advent
day after Thanksgiving–12/19
HATS ON, start advent calendar, set up tree, put plastic on windows, get tealights, get presents

Not sure exactly when Black Friday was established as the day we start slouching toward Winterval, I'm pretty sure that the initial idea of Winterval was to confine it between the Solstice and New Years Day. On the other hand, holidays require preparation. Any winter holiday should not start before Thanksgiving though, I have so decreed. So Winterval preparation begins the day after Thanksgiving, the first thing is HATS ON a.k.a. the crowning of whatever social media avatar I am using with a Santa hat.

In 2015 we got an advent calendar, it was most fun. And I decided that Black Friday is just going to be the day for putting the plastic on the windows. So, presents for the calendar and plastic for the windows do have to be procured before Thanksgiving but no sooner than Halloween. I also figured out what to do with the tree, TK—it's super legit.

Tea lights for LIGHTS ON have to be gotten by Erev Winterval, natch.

The custom of eight presents started in 2011, I get to buy eight presents for myself at varying levels expense and frivolity. I don't buy a ton of stuff beyond necessities for myself throughout the year, so this is nice. Though honestly I start thinking about what I want around Halloween and did have to be stern with myself about not being allowed to start buying the eight presents until after Thanksgiving. In 2015 Winterval Day became time please for buying the eight presents. All other presents have until Xmas Day, but must be gotten by then.

Erev Winterval
12/20 evening or whenever convenient
LIGHTS ON, potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream

We start lighting tea lights, adding one per night, on the eve of the Solstice. If it works out schedulewise, Erev Winterval dinner is potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream; sometimes we have friends over, sometimes not.

tree iight holder

2013: Tree light holder, do you see? The sweetie man made this for me.

Winter Solstice
Eight presents to finish

Xmas Eve
Chinese takeout

Ancient Jewish custom that I always celebrated with Radix and that we immediately incorporated into the new holiday; the winter we got separated we still had Chinese takeout together, I suggested we could rename this night Exmas Eve and cracked up. He did not.

Fun fact, my mom died on Xmas Eve.

Xmas Day
orangenwaffles, open present


2011: Orangenwaffles

Truth be told I will already have been using all of my eight presents pretty much as soon as I get them, but I don't get to open the one present until Xmas Day. If you're wondering why the sweetie man has to buy me a present and I don't buy him a present, it's because from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.

I make waffles for Xmas Day breakfast, but Xmas Day is otherwise awesome because you can just lay around and eat leftover Chinese food.

Boxing Week
set up agenda, throw stuff out

Actually after Christmas breakfast is a fine time to print out and put together next year's agenda.

Setting up a new agenda really has to be done before the new year, throwing stuff out just ideally. It's more the idea of reducing the pile of things to do that have piled up at the end of the year.

NY Eve
catch as catch can

It's fun to have plans for NY Eve, but it's stressful to have to have plans. Whatever comes our way is what happens.

NY Day
hoppin' john, greens, and cornbread, LIGHTS OFF

Traditional NY Day dinner for good luck in the new year, and we clear away the tealights.

Winterval Epiphany
first Saturday/Sunday after NY Day

This is to manage any holiday hangover or slow starts to the new year, allowable through the first Saturday of the new year and then Sunday it's time to get back to real time for real, start the first week of the new year like it's a normal week however that goes...