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Christmas Spirit (12/13/06)

Dear Zelda,

My husband and I are newlyweds, just married last June, and this is our first Christmas as a married couple. Our problem is, whose family do we spend Christmas with? Both families live airplane trips away from us. We can't really afford the flight fares. Our siblings will be visiting our families and we'd like to be in both locations. What's your advice?

Confused Over Christmas

Dear Confused Over Christmas,

It used to be Christmas was the time for "over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go." Now, a more accurate version might be "over the freeway, through the metal detector, across the country on a red-eye, and packed into a rental car, to Grandmother's condo we go." And Grandfather? He probably drives a Harley and has his own web page. Not to mention those songs were written in a time before Viagra. Today any such song would have to end with... "make sure to knock when you get there!" So what's a young couple to do, flying all around the country to make everyone happy?

This is an age-old struggle, of course, and there's no perfect solution. But today, with families increasingly scattered to the winds, it's harder than ever. And here's the bad news: there's no easy solution. The only piece of advice I'd give is not to run yourself ragged trying to please everyone. Make a choice, and then go with it. But here's the good news: at the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you end up going - what both of your families need to hear from you is that you love them, and you'd love to be with all of them. Most importantly, just talk to them. If one family is willing to help you pay the airfare, say as a gift, you could visit them this year, and set aside money next year to visit the other family. Or, if one family has a particular need this year (e.g. a sick relative, a special event), you might consider going in that direction. Also, I know this sounds crazy, but stop for a minute and think about where YOU'D like to be. Finally, if cost is an issue, it's useful to know that airfares on Christmas day are very reasonable. Especially if you don't have children right now, flying on Christmas morning can be a great solution. So what if dinner is later in the day and Santa shows up lookin’ for the eggnog?

Whatever your travel decision, make sure that you and your hubby do something thoughtful for both families. Let them know that even though the two of you have become one, now you have twice the love to give to your families.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,
 
My name is Max. I am an eight-month-old bulldog. My mom said I am getting big and I need to start to behave like a "big dog." I try to remember all the things I should do, but sometimes I get confused. Christmas is coming and I want Santa Pup to bring me lots of toys. Do you have any suggestions? I really like it when you give recipes for treats to my mom. I know you must have great toys. Thank you for your help.

Max

Dear Max,

You'd better watch out, you better not bark, you better clean up your mess in the park, cause Santa Paws is coming to town! When it comes to great holiday toys, and great holiday recipes, I'm your gal! In the toy department, I'd recommend checking out my Z-List (see last week's column, and the week before) for some toys and maybe some classy canine couture perfect for the holiday season!

As for my favorite holiday recipe, I want to share one that will definitely make you happy to the 'Max.' My owner found this recipe in The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook by Liz Palika, and on the night before Christmas she always makes us these Christmas Cranberry Corn Muffins. The cranberries are high in antioxidants, and they're also great for bladder and urinary tract problems (with all the holiday excitement, sometimes this helps). Here is the recipe for these heave-ho healthy muffins:

1/2 cup high quality dry dog food kibble
1  seven-ounce package Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the kibble in a food processor or blender and grind to a course flour. Measure 1/2 cup after grinding.
In a large bowl stir the ground kibble and the corn muffin mix.
Puree the cranberries along with the milk and egg in a blender or processor.

Add the pureed cranberry mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Grease muffin tins and pour the batter into the cups, filling each 3/4 full.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Let cool and then consume! These muffins are definitely doggy dee-licious, and they make for a very memor-a-bull Night Before Christmas.

** By the way, don't feed these muffins to dogs with corn allergies.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Last week I read your Z-List and so now I have the perfect Christmas gifts for my dog and my friend's dogs.  What I need is your advice for something I can give my human friends for the holidays.  Can you suggest a Z-List for humans?

Talented But Not Gifted

Dear Talented But Not Gifted,

Sometimes it's hard to come up with gifts you can give to your friends and family. Gift giving is a talent and it's not the size or the cost of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.  So here is my holiday Z-List for Humans.  I hope it's helpful:
Fetch the Z list for Humans

Zelda