For weeks, I debated about what to do for my December trip. I wanted something appropriate for the time of year and thought seeing the Northern Lights from Alaska might be a good option (it’s on my bucket list to go see them for real one day). But after talking with my friend from Alaska, it became evident that there weren’t a lot of winter food options fit for a vegetarian. Where was I going to find a baked Alaska, and did that even count because it was invented in New York to celebrate Alaska’s statehood?
I had thought about visiting the North Pole, but there isn’t a whole lot of culture around the North Pole. I could surely find some nonfiction book about finding it or hiking to it, and a movie likewise wouldn’t be too difficult to track down. But what about food that wasn’t fish? Or music for that matter? So I decided to visit the fictional North Pole instead.
The first food idea that popped into my head was the breakfast spaghetti from Elf. And while I love sugar probably just as much as Buddy, others on the internet cautioned against actually eating it. My friend found me an adorable melted snowman soup recipe that inspired me to try my own (without olives-yuck).
Meal: I started with cream of mushroom soup, which is a favorite of mine (I’m super picky about my soups). I used raisins for the snowman’s eyes and coal buttons. I ate a small piece of red bell pepper into the rough shape of a frown. And I stumbled upon sweet carrot goldfish crackers at the store so I used a carrot-shaped one for the nose. Poor melted snowman!
Desert: I looked everywhere for peppermint ice cream, which is my favorite. I had a carton in my fridge from March to November as a quarantine treat, but now that it was the holiday season and wanted a new carton, there were none to be found! So I settled for eggnog, which worked out nicely because it allowed me to make a non-melted snowman. Originally, I had it standing up in the dish, but it toppled as I took the first photograph, so I had to rethink the strategy and have it lying down. I still think it was cute, and it was super yummy! I only wish I had thought to buy pretzel sticks for arms, but I honestly hadn’t planned on making him when I scheduled my fake travel, so I think he turned out cute based on what I had on hand. I also enjoyed some peppermint hot chocolate complete with a candy cane stirrer and a candy cane sugar cookie.
Music: I listened to Leslie Odom Jr.’s Christmas Album. There was more autotune than in his first Christmas album, but it was nonetheless beautiful. His voice is magnificent! Winter Song was stuck in my head for days, and I ended up listening to several different covers of it as well. There’s nothing like good Christmas music to get me in the holiday mood.
Movies: Santa Claus: the movie is my favorite holiday film, and I rewatch it every year, no matter what. I love the visuals of the North Pole in the film especially. I decided that seeing one I hadn’t seen before was important for ticking off this box, so I also watched The Christmas Chronicles, Volume II. I was pleased to discover how much of it took place in the North Pole, so it was perfect for my fake trip. I really enjoyed seeing where the characters were a little later in life, the adventure was fun, and the ending was full of warm fuzzies. Definitely a good choice.
Book: I have been wanting to read The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum for at least a decade now, so this seemed the perfect opportunity to finally get to it. I grew up reading the Oz series, and it was neat to see the author’s version of the Santa Claus story with fae, immortals, and other magical beings included. I loved seeing how all the little elements like oranges in stockings (a family tradition of mine) and Christmas trees came to be. I liked it even more than I thought I would.