A Covid Christmas

There’s no way around it, and we have to face reality – if we don’t get creative, Covid is gonna take down Christmas along with everything else it has destroyed this year.

The whole world is in mourning, we can’t spend the holidays with our loved ones – the ones we are fortunate enough to still have with us, our spirits are lower than low, and many of us are broke and/or unemployed or both. Even this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is sad. In light of this on-going crisis, celebrating anything at all seems tone-deaf. I get that.

When asked if he’d like to have this year’s tree, Charlie Brown said, “No.”

However, these may be the very reasons why we must acknowledge Christmas this year. But how?

Well, first and foremost, if you are a religious person, take heart. Even Covid cannot rob you of your traditions and observance of the holiday. You can sing hymns in your living room. You can still dust off your nativity set. You can say your prayers as you watch the Pope celebrate midnight mass on television, if that’s your thing. You don’t need my help or anyone else’s.

It’s the secular aspects of Christmas that seem impossible. But aren’t we entitled to a little joy and goodwill after the year we’ve had? If you’re game, I have a few ideas.

Christmas Dinner: Together Apart (The Potluck Tailgate Non-Party)

This is a little crazy and a little complicated, but hear me out.

You know you won’t be able to gather your extended family together for Christmas dinner, right? It will just be you and the immediate members of your household. But what if I said you could all enjoy the same dinner together but apart?

Step 1: Let’s say you live within a comfortable driving distance of some family members. In this example, there are four household in all. You and the “cooks” of the other households plan a menu for Christmas dinner. Each household is assigned food to prepare.

Step 2: Each household prepares their components of the meal. You save enough for your family and dividing the rest for the other three families.

Step 3: On Christmas Eve, you load your trunk with the food you’re exchanging and some gifts. Pick a place to meet – a parking lot, in front of one of your houses, etc.

Step 4: Pop your trunk.

Step 5: Each family, with masks on, takes a turn going from trunk to trunk, collecting their food and gifts. Everyone else must remain in their cars with the windows rolled up. You can take this opportunity to see the rest of your family through their car windows and wish glad tidings to all. No hugging, no kissing, no contact of any kind – no exceptions!

Step 6: On Christmas night, everyone can video conference together while they share the same meal and open their gifts.

And speaking of gifts…

Gift Giving (For Adults): The Fine Art of Regifting

There has never been a better time to “Marie Kondo” the living daylights out of your home. If you don’t know about Marie Kondo, let me explain: She is the author of many books about getting rid of possessions that don’t serve you. These have titles such as Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. In a nutshell, her philosophy is this: get rid of anything you own that does not give you joy. Side note: I guess Marie doesn’t take that same less-is-more approach when it comes to her book titles. But I digress.

You probably have a ton of things in your home that you don’t like, never use, don’t fit you anymore, etc. We’re not talking garbage here. We’re talking about nice things that someone else might like to own. Something that might spark their joy.

For example: let’s say that you hate to cook. Someone gave you a magnificent frying pan. It holds absolutely no allure for you. Give it to someone who loves to cook. They might cherish it. Let’s suppose you are a very conservative dresser, yet every Christmas, your Aunt Mimi gives you an article of clothing that can only be appropriately worn on the Vegas strip at two in the morning. Pass that along to your sister who loves a bit of glitz. Put thought into your regifting.

Transparency here is key. Everyone must know they are getting a used gift. Don’t try to hide it. As long as everybody is on board, it’s a great way to exchange presents without breaking the bank. And you know you’re just dying to have that old fishing rod your father never uses anymore. One caveat: avoid giving someone a gift that they once to gave you! Awkward!

Gift Giving (For Children): What Really Matters

I have seen parents twist themselves into knots when they can’t get “the one thing” their kid really wants for Christmas. If you bought a black market Tickle Me Elmo for ten times it’s retail value, I’m talking to you.

But guess what. There really is no one thing. Think back to last year. Do you even remember what you gave them? Do they remember? Do they still play with it? Did you go bananas and just buy anything and everything you thought would make them happy? Did it?

Think back to some of your favorite childhood Christmas memories. They’re probably not about specific presents.

The age of the child does make some difference. There are parents who think baby’s first Christmas should be an extravaganza. The gifts extend beyond the tree, into the living room and up to the ceiling. After they’ve opened all the gifts for baby, they can’t find baby among the ruins of crumpled wrapping paper and stick-on bows. The reality is, of course, baby doesn’t care.

Toddlers are easy. They will be happy getting a package of animal crackers as long as it’s wrapped in Santa paper. How many toddlers play with the boxes, not the presents? For my son’s second Christmas, we bought him one gift. It was a collection of plastic helmets from the Lillian Vernon catalogue (circa 1997). There was a fireman’s helmet, a motorcycle cop’s helmet, an English bobby’s helmet, etc. Total cost: $7.00. He played with those hats for years. I’d say we got our money’s worth.

Once a child learns about Santa, it gets a little more complicated. You could explain that Santa, like the rest of us, is having a rough year and might not be able to make all those Christmas wishes come true. But he certainly still loves everyone and will do the best he can. Kids are very forgiving when it comes to Santa. If they want to call Santa, or send him a letter/email, or even video chat with him, they can. It’s 2020, mom and dad. Make it happen.

It should come as no surprise that teens and ‘tweens are the most problematic in the gift-getting department. But they are more reasonable than they lead us to believe. They know what’s going on, even if they can’t fully comprehend it. You can enlist their help in your hunt for regiftable treasures around the house. Perhaps they’d like to give some of their own things away, too. And who knows? The experience might teach them something.

The bottom line with children is this: what they really love about Christmas is its magical feeling, the lights, the cookies, the excitement, and family time. When all is said and done, the one thing they really want is your attention.

New Traditions: Fun and Free of Charge

Perhaps you are a stickler when it comes to your time-honored family traditions during the holidays. Maybe you go to Rockefeller Center every year to see the tree. Forget that. You don’t want to be in any large, super-spreading crowds this year. And I already showed you the tree so…

Maybe you go caroling with friends every year. You can still do that – 6 feet apart and with your masks on.

Or maybe it’s time to start some new traditions. Here are a few ideas:

-Everyone gets in their pj’s, you whip up some thermoses of hot cocoa and you all pile in the family car. Drive around and take in all the light displays while singing along to Christmas music on the radio.

-Decorate the tree together as a family.

-Bake cookies together. Wrap some up and take a stroll through the neighborhood, dropping them off at friends’ homes with a little note.

-Have nightly entertainment. Gather round as you each take turns reading from your favorite holiday story, or watch your favorite Christmas movie. You can even go “old school” by listening to holiday programming on the radio like they did before television.

circa 1945: A family of four gathers in their living room to listen to their home radio set. (Photo by Harold M. Lambert/Lambert/Getty Images)

Do you have some ideas or traditions you’d like share? Please do so in the comments section below. I’d love to hear them!

However you decide to celebrate (or not – no pressure), may it bring you peace.

A message from Anita

Snorkers, I need your support!

Dear SNORK readers, we’ve been together for some time now. In fact, today is SNORK’s 7th birthday! I hope you’ve enjoyed our visits.

It has been my great pleasure writing for you. My goal has always been to give you a place to come that’s non-political, controversy-free and, hopefully, a space to hang your hat and put your feet up for a few chuckles. It gives me purpose and your support has meant the world to me.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus and Covid-19, I began making videos for you, with the intention of helping to alleviate some of our collective stress. I thought that having a human to see might make us all feel a little less isolated.

Those videos have blossomed into a full-blown YouTube channel called At Home With Anita Rosner, with lots more content than what you’ve found on this blog. I don’t post all my videos here because, frankly, they don’t always include the funny misadventures of my life – which is what this blog is all about.

That said, I think you might actually enjoy them! So, here’s the part where I’m asking for your support: It would be a tremendous help to me if you would subscribe to my YouTube channel. It’s free and easy to do. It requires no commitment on your part. It’s just a way of helping me to grow.

All you have to do is click on the “subscribe” button in the video below. It will appear in the bottom right corner about 30 seconds into the video. Or you can go directly to the channel here. That’s it! Your small gesture could help me embark on an exciting new phase of my life. I will still write for you, but if you like what you see here, you might actually enjoy being one of my YouTube viewers as well.

As always, I’m am so grateful to you for sticking with me all these years. Now, let’s get this second party started!!!!!

With love, Anita.

Here’s a sneak preview of my upcoming episodes.


Are You Ready?

Unless you’ve just emerged from a decades-long coma or have been recently paroled after an extended stint in the hoosegow, re-entering society has probably never been one of your concerns. Now, it’s all anyone talks about. Reopening. Going back. It’s the hottest topic of debate and speculation since “who shot J.R.?”

Many people are eager to burst forth from their quarantine cocoons. Others want to take a more cautious approach, dipping a toe before plunging back in. I get it. People need to work and to socialize. These are necessities as much as they are a part of human nature.

Then there are people, like me, who are simply not ready.

What’s the rush? There’s still so much more I need to accomplish in the shelter of my home. I want to paint that desk, organize those closets, finish learning how to play the guitar. So what if I’ve had the past 71 days to do it? I haven’t gotten around to everything yet, ok?

If I’m to be honest, this whole lockdown thing has had more ups than downs for someone like me. I like structure. Sheltering at home is right up my alley. I know exactly what’s on the agenda every morning when I wake up – nothing. Each day will be whatever I want it to be. There are no demands on me. I don’t have to be anywhere, prepare anything, or for the most part, meet any deadlines. I’m still getting auditions for voiceovers, but I can do them at my leisure and in my pajamas. If I do set a goal for myself or plan something, I don’t have to worry about any interruptions beyond Fluffy needing a walk or a grumbling tummy needing some sustenance. I can sit in a chair all day and enjoy a book and a cup of coffee without feeling guilty. The time is all mine and I can make with it what I wish.

All these perks make re-entering society, reopening, and going back a tad less attractive to me.

I have changed. Certainly we have all have. But have we all changed in the same way? Many people have gone back to their roots which, turns out, are mostly grey. I stopped coloring my hair a year ago, so in that way, I was ahead of the curve. But those kinds of changes are superficial. I know that I have changed in my core and I’ve discovered things about myself that I never knew.

Changes and Surprises

1. While watching movies, I cringe now when I see people shaking hands, attending large gatherings, meandering through stores… I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that again and it’s hard for me to imagine what it will be like.

2. Long viewed by others as a “people person” who is the life of any party, I’ve discovered I’m perfectly content to be quiet. In the future, if you’re looking for me, check the backseat. I might be there, enjoying not talking.

3. I’m a hugger! This is huge. When meeting people for the first time, I’m always caught off guard if they come in for a hug and I stiffen up like a phone pole. Now, I want long and lingering hugs. Put a mask on and c’mon in! My arms are open.

4. I don’t miss eating out. I’ve been enjoying cooking and it’s become a creative outlet for me. I even started my own YouTube channel, At Home With Anita Rosner. It’s fun and satisfies my yen for cooking, performing and film making, all in one neat little package.

5. I forgot how to drive my car. The battery kept dying from lack of use, so after a recent jump, my husband and I went for a long drive to charge it up. For the life of me, I could not remember how to turn on the cruise control.

6. I’ve had renewed faith in humanity. For every bonehead who buys up all the flour, hand sanitizer and every package of toilet paper in the store, there is a person who offers you whatever they can spare. There are the friends who check in with you just to see how you’re holding up and to tell you they love you. And there are people like this hospital technician who gives a pop-up concert for his co-workers to keep their spirits up.

Michael Dolan accompanied by his son, Harrison, on piano.

Yes, there have been many lessons, revelations and adjustments in the past three months with many more to come. Are you ready? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Mother’s Day Special

She loved you, held your hair back when you were sick, comforted you through break ups…no, not your college roommate. I’m talking about your mother!

This Mother’s Day will be like no other. I won’t be with my kids. I won’t be with my own mother. Yes, we call and we FaceTime, but that’s hardly a substitute for being in the same room together (which hasn’t happened for over three months now).

This pandemic has taught us many lessons, particularly that nothing is certain. So, I hope you’ll make a special effort to let your mother know what she really means to you. Some people are uncomfortable expressing their emotions. I should know because I am one of them. I tell my husband that he’s the luckiest man in the world because he married a woman who doesn’t like to shop and doesn’t like to talk about her feelings. But, set that discomfort aside and tell her what she means to you and why.

That said, I’d like to share just a few of my memories about my mother and why I appreciate her so much.

Misty

When I was five-years-old, out of the blue, my mother brought a little gray kitten home. This is one of the few times I remember her being spontaneous. She saw it, all alone by a garbage can, and decided to give it a home. I could not believe my eyes. Neither could my father when he came home from work. Misty, the name we gave him two seconds after meeting him, could not stay, my father said. Well, this was a pretty smart kitten, because when my father sat down to read the evening paper, Misty mewed at his feet until dad picked him up. It was that easy. We kept Misty and loved him until the end of his days. And I loved my mother for taking the chance on bringing him to us.

Hostess With The Most-ess

Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around one holiday or another. It seemed like my mother was the designated hostess for most of them. She did Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…you name it. Everyone would gather from our very large extended family. The food was amazing and my grandfather’s homemade wine would flow. When it wasn’t an official holiday, our house was still party central, especially in the summer. Since we had a swimming pool, we had a constant stream of guests during hot weather months, with barbecues every night. I loved those times. Everyone hung out, everyone was welcomed. Now that I’ve followed in her footsteps, I’ve come to realize what went into all those affairs and appreciate her even more.

Playing Hooky

There is a hazy memory in the back of my mind, when my mother took me to a pediatrician appointment and then, rather than bringing me back to school, we went to a movie. Such lawlessness was not her style, which made it all the more fun.

And speaking of the pediatrician…

After weeks of begging, badgering and cajoling, my mother finally agreed to take my sister and me to the pediatrician to have our ears pierced. That’s where you had it done in those days, unless you had a friend you trusted to poke you with a sewing needle (we did not). My sister, Diana, went first. One, two, three and it was done. Then it was my turn. Nothing to it. Then Dr. Laquadera turned to my mother, “What do you say, Alice? Are you game?”

My mother blanched, “Oh, no. I couldn’t!”

My sister and I started pleading with her to go for it. The doctor helped us egg her along. And that became the day we all had our ears pierced together. Just us girls.

Becoming a Mother

When I gave birth to my first child, I was bound and determined to breastfeed. “What could be more natural?” I thought. I’d read all the books. I listened to my friends extols the virtues of their lactation consultants (which, to be honest, still makes me roll my eyes). So when the time came, I felt ready and informed. My son, however, had other ideas. He was not on board. He would not latch on. My mother was in the hospital room with me and could see I was growing frustrated – which, by the way, all the books said not to do. Like you can control that. The floor nurse strolled in, for one reason or another, and started trying to coach me. At one point, she actually roughly grabbed my nipple and tried to force my son to take it. He started to cry, as did I.

My mother stepped in, dismissing the nurse. “We’ll take it from here,” she said, lifting my son into her arms and rocking him.

After we had both calmed down, she handed him back to me and said, “Just let him find it.”

Eureka! Success! Mother does know best.

Tattoo Parlor

When a daughter is determined to get a tattoo, sometimes her mother will insist on accompanying her. This is not uncommon. However, I never thought I’d be on the flip side of that equation. Yup, you read that right. My mother was determined to get a tattoo, and I accompanied her. You can read about it in a past post titled “Ladybug“.

Breakfast In Bed

I don’t ever remember serving breakfast in bed to my mother on Mother’s Day. In fact, I can’t remember a childhood Mother’s Day that didn’t involve my mother making breakfast for us like she always did. This year, I wish I could. She and my father are in isolation and they’re 300 miles away. But if I could, I know just what I’d make for her – baked French toast.

If you’re lucky enough to be with your mom tomorrow, you can make it for her.

Baked French Toast

This will be one of the strangest and, in many ways, most difficult Mother’s Days for many of us. And as if things couldn’t get any weirder…it snowed today.

Slump

The weather outside has been frightful; cold and rainy with a thunderstorm to beat the band. Poor Fluffy is strapped into her Thunder Shirt which, to be honest, doesn’t fully alleviate her anxiety during storms.

My husband and I don’t need comfort garments, but some comfort food would be just the ticket on a day like this. Nothing, I thought, would hit the spot more than a chicken pot pie.

Now, I don’t know about you, but it seems I’ve been on some sort of unending rotation throughout this isolation period: Cook, clean the kitchen, cook some more, clean again, and so on…

I enjoy cooking, but sometimes I don’t feel like dirtying every pot, pan, rolling pin, food processor, etc. just to whip up a single meal. So, creating pasty dough for a chicken pot pie was not in the cards today. However, finding shortcuts is kind of my thing. If there’s an easier way to do something, I’ll find it. That’s when I was struck by inspiration.

During the summer, I make super simple fruit “pies” that don’t require crust per se. Why not use the same method to make a pot “pie”?

So I did just that. And if you’d like to learn how, just click here for my super simple Chicken Slump!

SNORK Chicken Slump

Preheat oven to 375

Filling:

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

4 cups cooked, diced chicken

1 can condensed mushroom soup thinned with 1 can-full of milk

2 cups frozen vegetables (thawed)

Topping:

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Bell’s Poultry Seasoning*

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

Method:

In a medium sauce pan, heat oil and rosemary over medium heat.

Add onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes until soft

Add condensed soup mixture, vegetables and chicken

Pour filling into a baking dish In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, seasoning, salt and baking powder

Add milk and melted butter

Stir until combined into a batter

Pour batter over filling and smooth evenly

Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the topping becomes golden brown

Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving

*You can substitute Bell’s Poultry Seasoning with 1 tablespoon of your favorite herbs/spices or the following mixture: 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger 1/2 dried sage

Bang! Zoom!

April 21, 2020

Today marks 42 days of sheltering at home. It is surreal. But in terms of my social life, things are hopping!

This past weekend, I attended two cocktail parties, two family reunions, a family game night, and I did it all from my computer through the website Zoom. If you, too, have been living through Zoom, I have some tips to share on how to Zoom like a boss (and how not to be that person during a Zoom call).

Watch and learn, by clicking here!

Go Bananas

April 19, 2020

Visits to the supermarket are one of my least favorite things, especially now. People encroach on my personal space – get out of my hula hoop, encroachers! – some people don’t wear masks or gloves, and the shelves are half empty. So, I try not to go at all. But when I have no other option, it’s time to suit up and say a little prayer.

The moment I cross the threshold, all I can think about is leaving. I arm myself with a list, which is quickly abandoned when I discover they don’t have bread, but they have english muffins (I can make sandwiches with those). They don’t have flour but they have oatmeal (I can make flour out of oatmeal). They don’t have garlic, but they have coconuts (I can’t make anything by substituting coconuts for garlic). But I buy a coconut and I’ll figure it out later. That’s how it is now; you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

The last time I hit the store, about three weeks ago, I bought a huge bunch of bananas assuming I’d have them for snacks or for breakfast with some peanut butter. Well, that did not happen and I ended up with a large bunch of black things that used to be bananas.

However, this is no time to throw away food or money. So I decided to make two yummy dishes with them. Click here to learn my recipes for SNORK Bananas Foster and the easiest banana bread you could ever hope to make!

Getting Saucy With Governor Cuomo

April 14, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: 10!)

Easter has come and gone. It’s been years since the Easter bunny has visited me personally. He’s shown up for my husband and kids for years, but always seems to forget my basket! This year, however, he made up for it in a big way. Imagine my surprise to find a bundle of pandemic-themed goodies on my front porch: pasta, garlic, a biscotti and, joy of joys, four rolls of toilet paper! I suspect he was in cahoots with my dear friend, Wendy, but I can’t prove it.

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on New York, you have probably seen our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, working tirelessly for us. So, I got a little miffed when his baby brother, Chris Cuomo, was giving him “the business” over maternal favoritism.

It seems the Governor’s whippersnapperish younger brother holds to the idea that he is their mother’s favorite. He rubbed in the Governors’s face that he, Chris, was anointed with their mom’s spaghetti sauce recipe; asserting that no other sibling has it.

Any good Italian knows that family sauce recipes are shrouded in mystique, and are coveted secrets. So this kind of claim on Chris’s part was a particularly low blow.

I could not let this stand and I just had to come to the Governor’s rescue. It’s the least I could do. Watch my YouTube video to see my response by clicking here.

The Anniversary Edition

April 8, 2020 (Toilet paper inventory: 7 rolls)

Since we’re all in isolation, I thought you might like to look at a face other than those of your quarantine mates.

So, I’m trying something new: this SNORK comes to you on video, direct from the Mother Ship (my home office).

Click here to watch!

Creativity in the Contaminate Zone

Think outside the box.

Like so many people around the country, and the world, business owners here in the containment zone are taking a big hit. It’s devastating. There’s no way to sugarcoat it or make light of it. The only comfort is knowing we’re all in the same boat and we’ll bounce back together. We just need patience (not my strong suit), time and a hopeful look toward the future.

So, I have to give credit to the industrious individuals who are thinking outside the box. Here are some of the ways businesses are trying to make lemonade out of lemon-scented Lysol.

Toilet paper:

Since obsessing about toilet paper has become everyone’s favorite pastime, one genius marketer came up with a ploy to profit off the mania.

Imagine you’re down to your last roll. You’re feeling desperate. You don’t even have back-up newspaper or an old Sears catalogue laying around. So with a heart full of optimism, you search toilet paper on Amazon and this pops up:

A mistake? I don’t think so.

While some price gougers are trying to sell toilet paper to you for about $3.00 per roll, another company lists their shoes as toilet paper – and for a very affordable price, I might add.

What would your internal dialogue have to be to make this strategy work? “Hmm. I’m down to eight squares of TP but, you know, I could always use a cute pair of espadrilles.”

Appealing to people on lockdown with their kids:

Michael’s craft store is offering online shopping with curbside pick-up. Their website reads:

Stocking up on arts and crafts to keep the family busy at home?
Now you can grab supplies without leaving your car.

They will actually bring your purchase to your trunk so you can avoid all human contact. This is a great idea, depending on what you order. Let me offer a mommy tip here: do not order anything that involves glitter or permanent markers! You’re welcome.

New Cars:

It’s hard to imaging that anyone is thinking about buying a new car right now, but if you are. Chevrolet says “We’re here to ready to help.”

You can shop for your new car online and get home delivery (again, avoiding other humans and their potential creeping crud). Plus, for well-qualified buyers who finance through GM, they also offer 0%APR for 84 months and wave monthly payments for 120 days. FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m sure there is a laundry list of terms and condition. I won’t bore you with them here.

Cashing in on fear:

There are going to be a slew of commercials coming out soon for assisted living facilities. How do I know this? In addition to acting, I’m also a voiceover artist and I’m getting auditions for these left and right. And they almost all start out with phrases like ‘in these uncertain times.’

You’ll also be seeing lots more commercials for smart phone ultraviolet sanitizers, air purifiers, and the like.

The truth is, if you just stay put at home, respect social distance and wash your hands, you’ll likely be ok and so will your loved ones around you.

Now, a message from my heart:

I’ve been trying to keep people’s spirits up with these containment zone posts, and I hope I am. Sometimes it’s a struggle. I’m going through this just like you and it is stressful. My husband and I have been fortune that everyone in our family is healthy. Some of you have not been as lucky. You are in my thoughts every day.

I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who is keeping the world in motion. Thank you to those caring for the sick, stocking the grocery store shelves, providing gas, internet, and electricity. Thank you to the volunteers who deliver food to their elderly neighbors, and to the people walking their dogs who take the time to smile and ask, “How are you doing?” I’m grateful for the artists, musicians, and yoga and fitness instructors who generously post their talents online to give us all a little sweetness and keep us centered and motivated in these times of isolation and concern. And I am certainly grateful for all of you who take the time to read these posts and leave comments for me. It helps. So to all of you beautiful people out there:

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

xo,

Anita