At my house, the holidays are a time for family, love, and food. Food, food, food. And from the thousands (millions?) of recipes that flood the internet every Christmas season, I’m going to assume that things at your house are pretty similar. And taking that one step further, I’m going to assume we have something of a similar relationship to one very specific holiday beverage.
Eggnog. Eggnog! It’s there, every year, begging me to put it in my basket at the market, begging to be drunk in front of the fireplace with a cozy red blanket.
And what is this thick, eggy drink and why do we only drink it (or think about drinking it) for a month or two out of the year? Turns out it’s actually because of us, the consumer—eggnog doesn’t sell from January to October, so now it’s not even offered (for the most part. There are a few holdouts offering Easter-themed nog, but it doesn’t fare too well against the stiff competition from Peeps and chocolate bunnies). But it’s also tradition—eggnog was a traditional English winter drink hundreds of years ago, and it just stuck (the early drinkers of eggnog were also the ones who started putting alcohol in it, so one can imagine they considered average eggnog a tad subpar, as well).
It’s made out of milk, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, vanilla, and often some brandy, rum or whisky. The thickish texture we associate with it now is actually due to government regulations requiring manufacturers to use cooked eggs instead of the traditional raw eggs, which make the drink more light and frothy.
So, at the beginning of every season, I do. I buy the carton of eggnog, my mind filled with idyllic holiday scenes and sure that this year, my Christmas will be as magical as the ones on the movies ABC Family has been playing every December since before I was born.
Then I turn on one of those classic Christmas movies, pour myself a glass of eggnog, and remember why I only buy it once a year. I don’t actually…like it. The first sip is nice, and then after that I can’t really imagine finishing the rest of the glass, let alone the entire carton. It usually helps me feel somewhat accomplished at the New Year when I clean out my fridge and I can throw it away, though. And yet, it’s still a tradition I insist on keeping. My yearly sip of eggnog is just as essential to my holiday spirit as caroling and wrapping presents.
What do you think? Do you wait eagerly to see the first harbingers of eggnog on the horizon? Is the first sip just one of many, or is it enough for the whole season?