These days, if I’m ever tempted to try to make myself cry, I think about Thanksgiving, 2020. A pandemic surge was underway and vaccines weren’t available, so Jessie and I forewent seeing our families–something I’d never done before in 36 years–on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The part that makes me cry isn’t even sad, not on its face. It’s that Jessie and I spent two days making ten dishes that comprised easily ten times as much food as the two of us need. And while we acknowledged at the time the absurdity, neither of us put to into words what now seems embarrassingly plain: we were cooking for the family that wasn’t there.
I cherish that quarantine Thanksgiving for what it was–Jessie’s undercooked babka and all–but this year even more than ever I find myself becoming a staunch apologist of 52-Across in today’s puzzle. The opportunity to make up for lost time can’t come soon enough. Merry Christmas.
Thoughts and spoilers for “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” after the jump.
“T’was the night before Zoomsmas…”
I hadn’t heard the phrase HOLIDAY CREEP until I saw it in a recent Christopher Adams puzzle, and I was immediately taken with it. Sure, a holiday story villain category puzzle, even with a revealer like HOLIDAY CREEP, isn’t exactly groundbreaking. But what sold me on this idea was the concept of giving it an aggressively Christmas-y title and dropping it pre-Thanksgiving.
Working with 12-letter revealers is constraining, and necessitated smushing 5 themers into the center 9 rows of the puzzle. I don’t love ALO / ZAK, but apart from that, some nonstandard grid layout allowed for a relatively smooth fill, even with a super low word count of 70.
Happy solving, friends!