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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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The Festive is upon us.

Hey, I know you've been wondering what my neighborhood looks like, all lit up and Christian in the holiday season, so here you go:


There you see Crazy Joe, the guy who reads the paper all night long, no matter how cold the weather. I'm over on the right, skating my little heart out. Henry's in the newsboy cap, throwing himself at the camera lens. And in case you're wondering why that building is emanating an unearthly glow, well, we don't ask questions, round these parts. We just avert our eyes and we keep on skating.

I tricked you! What! That's not my town at all. Yuletide Fool's!

(Yes, that's right. Jesus loved a good prank.)

So among the Christmas decorations my mother foisted upon me—I mean lovingly offered—was my parents' famed Winter Village, a collection of ceramic figurines and buildings and teeny tiny lights that they hauled out at Christmastime. I balked, because after all, the Winter Village! That's a big commitment to, you know, tiny ceramics. It's a hop and a skip to Hummel figurine collecting, after this. But my parents insisted. The Winter Village is meant for the children, they shouted, to see the wonder and delight in their little angelic faces, and children don't come around their house much anymore, unless it's to ring the doorbell and run away screaming I TOUCHED OLD MAN BRADLEY'S HOUSE BLAAAAARGH.

So we put up a mini version of the Winter Village on our mantelpiece. We don't have a flat surface large enough for the entire Winter Village community, the Winter Village nursing home and Winter Village cell-phone store and Winter Village Great Wall of China. Also our cat wants nothing more than to walk across a table, chucking delicate figurines onto the floor with one swipe of her deadly paw. And she hasn't figured out how to reach the mantelpiece. Yet.


Here we have Santa, sitting on his giant Ice Throne, wondering why no one is coming to greet him. "They all like that smaller Santa right in front of me. Who would put one Santa right in front of another? Probably a Jew," he's thinking, and he would be right. A Jew who cursed a lot and wondered how he got himself into this mess, marrying a Catholic, installing her Norman Rockwell diorama in order for her to better praise Jesus.

After Scott finished cursing and arranging, Henry announced that we had to "do the festive." This apparently meant turning off all the non-Winter Village lights and sitting together on the couch, while Scott sang "do the festive!" to the tune of "The Hustle" and Henry held forth about the Universe blowing up with one push of his self-destruct button. So pretty much it was a dress rehearsal for Christmas.

Do the Festive!

Reader Comments (49)

Oh my hell. My mother in law has a setup just like that, and once a year I endure HOURS of torture in setting it up. I am glad someone else posted pictures of the experience too!
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Oh my hell. My mother in law has something very similar and I spend HOURS every December arranging the stupid thing, which has kind of exploded all over her living room. She even has a church with an obnoxious nativity scene out front. Gak! I hope I never inherit it, yet I want to torture my own children with the same thing.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Ooooo. A new Christmas tradition. Do the festive.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJanet
Henry was just exactly right. Do the festive is so non-denominational, as is a winter village. Unless you live in Trinidad or somewhere with no snow or ice ever.But anybody can Do the Festive. (and now it's in my tiny little brain too)
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterwitchypoo
Obviously the building is glowing that way because it is on fire. And nobody is calling 911 because the fire smells good and makes the village square seem so cozy.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdebl
Your family sounds like the very best.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterelise
Just wait ... your cat will figure out how to jump onto the mantle. My mom has a great picture of her cat "playing Godzilla" by walking carefully through the winter village. Surprisingly, Niko (the cat) hardly ever knocks the people over, though she will steal her favourites.(Just like she steals only her favourite ornaments off the tree ... or nuts from the bowl ... yes, she's part squirrl)
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersarah
I, too, have a lovingly collected Winter Village that I am as over as December 26th. I loved it when I wanted it, and we have put it up every year for the last 20 years, but my god the SPACE. The CAT. The small breakable PIECES. I tend to glare at the boxes now until my husband decides where HE wants to put it. I'm sure I didn't expect to despise it when I started collecting it. But it's so needy.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCandy
you made me laugh out loud.

and that throned Santa's VERY creepy.

and I am singing "Do the Festive" to the tune of the Wiggles' "Do the Tiger, Do the Elephant..." song. Thanks a whole bunch.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbabelbabe
Thank goodness Christmas now has its own version of the hokey pokey.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBipolarlawyercook
Must...get...Hustle...out...of...head...Repressed images of my mom and other neighbor moms learning The Hustle in my livingroom.

Will try: "Bringin' festive back, bringin' festive back"
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterManic Mommy
"Do the festive" - I like it. Does it go with the great Seinfeld holiday of Festivus too? Because I like the idea of Festivus.

Right now I'm in an in-between mood about doing the festive. One half of me says "Of COURSE you're putting up a tree! It's CHRISTMAS!" and the other half of me is saying "But it's only a week away! It's practically too late!" And I don't do an adorable porcelain village but I do put up my trolls. Which are not up yet. Sigh!
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl
"Do the festive?" Why has Henry joined the War on Christmas?
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbraine
Oh no. My parents have a Winter Village, and it just occurred to me that they might, one day, "loving offer" it to us.

The thought is chilling.
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterThea
Gah! Now I will have "Do the festive!" in my brain all through Christmas.

Which might be a better option that what's on the radio...
December 18, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
A restaurant by my house has a winter village set up. Except, they added toy soldiers in various places around the town, holding people up and getting in firefights. One of them is positioned so he's lugging a tiny champagne bottle. Best winter village ever.
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterqwyneth
I should also note that my 8 year old thought the soldiers were *hilarious*. You should add some toy soldiers to yours. You know, for the children.
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterqwyneth
All I can say is, WOW.
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermartha
I feel it necessary to add that my parent's Christmas village has suicidal pigs.

Little tiny pigs that stand on the ledges of buildings or in front of cars or ON cars.

It makes the holidays a wee bit more festive.

December 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteriris
So awesome! I am totally singing that song tonight when I plug in the Christmas tree lights.
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermandy
Sounds like the kind of moments lives are made up of :)
December 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterShe Likes Purple
I have the same Crazy Joe, except in my town, he was known as the angry pharmacist. My (now ex-) husband is a pharmacist, and hated his retail pharmacy job. I have a drugstore in my town, and I always put that bench in front of it, featuring the disgruntled pharmacist who was always looking through the want ads for a new job.

And when I was a kid and we put out our high-falutin' Sears brand nativity set, I used to put the wee plastic sheep on the roof. What...there's no "ninja sheep" in the Bible?

Do the Festive!
December 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly
We have Crazy Joe too. Although ours is drunk and keeps falling off his bench. Or maybe he's dead and rigamortis allows his to still hold tightly to his newspaper?

Your pictures make me want to go mess with our "The Festive."
December 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMignon
My MIL has a winter village, a summer village, and a few Hamptons houses in her kitchen. I always pretend to almost break them so I will never have them foisted upon me.
December 26, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdorothy

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