“MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 🎅🏻🎄🎁 🤶🏽⛄️ Difficulty: 3/5

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…”

H/t to Shanthanu, Matt, Patrick, and Hearon for test solving this week!

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!

-Ross

15 thoughts on ““MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!”

  1. Fun theme and execution. Clues 33A, 3D, 8D & 12D were the best. You gave 47D the good college try (haha). TIL that 1A and 40D are words. Briefly wondered where you were going with 50A but then I got my mind out of the gutter and then back to, um, the strip club stage. Happy Turkey Day everyone!

  2. Oh, oh…and now I just finished a nice cry. I don’t even have to *see* Capra’s movie — I just cry when I think about it (which saves time and gives me a wonderful feeling)! Sweet puzzle, Ross — thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    1. My dad and I watch it every single Christmas. I haven’t missed one yet… though we’re planning to be with Jessie’s folks this year, so it may have to be a remote viewing.

  3. Not sure why you have misgivings about ALO and ZAK. They both look like legitimate entries to me, and if a well-known foreign word and an actual first name are blemishes, then what of 35a’s MOI, 6d’s ERAT, 59d’s DAS and 51d’s OYS, as well as 41a’s RON, 10d’s ADA, 38d’s ELI, 56d’s EDNA and 61d’s NED? Personally, I’d have more of a problem with 16a’s AH I SEE crossing 14d’s SEE HERE, but maybe that’s just me.

    1. To each their own! I often go out of my way to duplicate short words just to remind everyone that the taboo against duplicated short answer/clue words is one that I don’t understand at all and actively try to transgress against. Pot stirring!

  4. I’m happy to say that you got me on the reveal having confidently filled in ChEEr. Not knowing Orrery helped get it wrong but finally caught on because I knew rOSH could not be correct. Great puzzle. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  5. I sure was confused about 42A because to say hello to someone while you’re walking around Rio, you’d say ola. But I’ve never answered a phone expecting to speak Portuguese, so TIL (thanks Google) that alo is a regular phone greeting in Brazil.

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