Ask Ms. Moose

Do your holiday questions burn hotter than a yule log doused in lamp oil?



Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

Dear Ms. Moose:
My relatives have been declining my special homemade fruitcakes for years, citing allergies. When I asked what they were allergic to, Aunt Hetty pointedly replied, “Cat,” referring to one minor incident of pet hair contamination in 1993. Last year, things came to a head. I had a little too much wassail and ended up stuffing a whole fruitcake into my face, through rivers of tears, in front of my entire family. I promptly swelled up like an inflatable lawn Santa. Turns out I’m the one with the allergies. Now the secret’s out that I never taste-tested my own work. My question is: Should everyone still get a fruitcake this year? — Hoisted On My Own Pecan

Dear Hoisted:
Not only should your ungrateful relatives continue to receive your yearly homemade treat, you’ve found a new party trick!

Dear Ms. Moose:
My mate and I and our two offspring have just moved to the Granite State from another planet. Our neighbor filled us in on the basics: Wear flannel, stock up on firearms and ammo in case of a house invasion by a rabid bear, and answer any question we don’t understand with, “That’s OK. We’re all set.” With the holidays coming up, what should we do to fit in even better? We’re pretty sure the neighbors are watching.
— New In Town

Dear New:
Pull the curtains.

Dear Ms. Moose:
My niece is appearing as one of the Sugar Plum Shareholders in her ballet school’s 5-hour, avant-garde performance of “The Nutcracker.” I sewed 30 tiny business suits and donated a fax machine for the set. Do I actually have to go to the performance?
— Uncle Philistine

Dear Uncle:
You should have shot down that first request for donations. (“I’m sorry, I’m simply swamped sewing sequins for the kindergarten’s production of ‘Hanukkah On Ice.’”) Now it’s too late. Get a good seat, take pictures, and tell your niece she’s got a great future both on stage and in corporate America.

Dear Ms. Moose:
When should I put up the strings of lights that I found at the transfer station treasure house last spring and spent the summer untangling? When should I take them down? —Bargain Finder

Dear Bargain:
Follow this rule of thumb: Flip-flops put away, string lights OK! Why take them down at all? Keep your lights up year-round to avoid set-up hassle next season. Plus, that festive feeling will always be only one switch flip away — even in August!

Dear Ms. Moose:
I’m ecologically minded and enjoy decorating for the holidays with strings of popcorn and dried fruit. The cats and I like to watch the birds and squirrels get their winter treats once the greenery’s tossed out into the snow. My husband agrees — only he’s not into squirrels and birds. He loves coyotes. Now he’s insisting on adorning our tree with snowflakes made from raw hamburger. Won’t it start to stink? — Meaty Christmas and Rancid New Year

Dear Meaty:
Let your husband have his experiment. The cats will solve your problem for you.

Dear Ms. Moose:
Could we just skip all the holidays this year and move directly into the dead of winter? — Sick of All the Hoopla

Dear Sick:
I’ve got a better idea. Book your flight to the Caribbean. Just like New Hampshire, only more coconuts.

Readers: Are you fans of a certain holiday elf who sits on a certain shelf? Then you’ll love Newt in the Fruit™. Perched atop a bowl of apples this festively colored little amphibian will watch over your household day and night, silently judging everyone’s behavior and dispensing household justice. Forget “naughty and nice” and all that North Pole stuff. This is New Hampshire. Those deemed “annoying” might find their in-laws snowed in for a prolonged holiday visit, but those declared “tolerable” may be rewarded on New Year’s Day with a blaze-orange hat under their pillow.

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