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Holiday Lexicon

Fairies, Point Guards and Nog: Our irreverent companion to the holidays.

Autry, Gene: American League Baseball owner and World War II pilot active in films and on horseback. Made a double-platinum recording in 1949 of the Johnny Marks song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” thus popularizing the phrase “reindeer games.”

Get nose-to-nose — if you dare — with real reindeer at the Broad Street location of Strange’s Florist, 12111 Broad Street Road, at the corner of Broad and North Gayton roads. The reindeer are due to arrive Thanksgiving week and will stay through Christmas Eve when, as florist Allison Toler observes: “They have to go back to the North Pole for Santa.”

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch Jack White in action. He’s a second-generation reindeer handler. His father started the business 33 years ago when he purchased six reindeer from an Eskimo in Alaska. Since then, White says his business, Rudolph and Co., has transported more than 1,000 reindeer from the tundra to Seminole, Texas, the site of White’s reindeer ranch. He claims he tends the largest herd of reindeer in captivity in the United States. Every year, White spends the weeks before Christmas zigzagging across the country to deliver his furry cargo to places like gift stores, nurseries, zoos and theme parks — and, of course, Strange’s, open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Boxing Day: Not every day at Oscar de la Hoya’s house, but the day after Christmas, also known as St. Stephen’s Day. In the U.K., it’s traditionally a day for giving gifts to merchants and tradespeople. In the U.S., it’s a day for especially motivated people to return ill-fitting sweaters and inappropriate CDs. We have no problem with that. But what do you do with all the leftover boxes?

How about giving a gift to someone who needs it? Load up the empty boxes with dry and canned goods for the Central Virginia Food Bank. Deliver them to the charity’s headquarters at 1415 Rhoadmiller Street from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Elf: Tiny nothern toymaker impersonated to hilarious effect by writer David Sedaris in his play “The Santaland Diaries.”

If Sedaris isn’t your thing, try a comedian with a little less dry wit and a lot more clowning around: Will Ferrell, who stars in “Elf,” playing at local theaters.

Frankincense: Dried Middle Eastern tree sap. Want some for yourself? Pick up frankincense and myrrh incense for $2.50 at the Religious Book Store, 20 N. Belmont Ave. Or really get into the holiday spirit, and immerse yourself in frankincense oil from one of three Soak! stores — 3459 W. Cary St., Chesterfield Towne Center or Short Pump Town Center. Half an ounce is $5, two ounces goes for $15.

French hens: 1) Jerry Falwell’s characterization in April of musicians and political commentators the Dixie Chicks. The Chicks recorded Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas From the Family” with Rosie O’Donnell. That album presumably isn’t in the Rev. Falwell’s CD changer. 2) Just what it says. Gallic poultry. May we suggest Morgan’s, which offers home for French provincial cuisine, at 304 N. Robinson St., 359-9155.

Gay apparel: A phrase in the carol “Deck the Halls” that provides easily amused children an annual lesson in linguistic mutability. Catch some early gay apparel in “Tru,” the story of Truman Capote’s life from the age of 51 on. It’s where Capote’s decline begins, just before Christmas 1975. The play runs through Dec. 6 at Fieldens Cabaret Theatre, 2033 W. Broad St. 346-8113.

Gelt: Yiddish for money. At Hanukkah, it’s chocolate wrapped in gold foil — and imagine how much more successful the Sacagawea dollar would be if it were made of candy, too.

Gelt has already arrived at For the Love of Chocolate, 2820-A W. Cary St., from the store’s chocolatier in New York. “We have to buy it from places that are kosher,” owner James Kinard says. You can sample some — about 10 pieces a bag — for less than $2. Or buy the candy in bulk for $11.90 a pound. “We also carry a lot of other Hanukkah items,” Kinard says — such as a white chocolate disc, wrapped in foil and printed with the Star of David for $0.39.

Handel: English composer of “Messiah,” including the Hallelujah Chorus (the “Rock and Roll Part 2” of the Church of England). Lived in a house later occupied by Jimi Hendrix. Speaking of singers, warm up your voice and head to the rehearsal for the annual “Messiah” Sing-Along at Bon Air Presbyterian Church, 9201 W. Huguenot Road. Practice is Dec. 13 at 1 p.m.; performance is Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Lords a’leaping: No one is quite sure who these airborne aristocrats were, or what caused them to jump. But there were 10, which suggests two competing basketball teams. The Benedictine Capital City Classic (BCCC) is a hotly contested basketball tournament Dec. 27-30, featuring teams from up and down the East Coast, plus the Benedictine High School squad and one from a local public high school. Hoop lovers from across the state have made the tourney a holiday tradition. Many still recall the glory days of the ’70s and ’80s when the incomparable coach Warren Rutledge led a Cadets team that couldn’t lose. Find BHS near the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, at 304 N. Sheppard St. Call 342-1300 for more information.

Mistletoe: An obligate parasite known to induce fervent osculation — or, a piggyback plant that makes ya kiss. Mistletoe is known by its yellow twigs, dense green leaves and white poisonous berries. It grows on the branches and trunks of apple, fir, oak, poplar and other trees. In ancient times, the evergreen was considered to be a symbol of hope and peace. It was said that whenever enemies met under a sprig of the creeper they dropped their weapons and embraced. Hence, the custom of kissing beneath it began. Mistletoe can be found in woods nearby or you can purchase a handful of twigs from a vendor, usually for about $5. As the holidays approach the regulars can be found on Cary Street in front of the Ukrop’s parking lot, on Patterson Avenue near the Bank of Richmond and the Farmer’s Market in Shockoe Bottom.

Myrrh: Another dried Middle Eastern tree sap. See “frankincense.”

They may not have myrrh or frankincense, but they certainly are wise men. See the Chorduroys and the Hood Temple Male Chorus perform during the “December Song Fest” at Brandermill Church, 4500 Millridge Parkway, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15. Call 739-5288.

Nog: An archaic word for strong ale. Combined with “egg” to describe a particularly gloppy and subversively alcoholic holiday beverage. The vegan variant is “nut nog,” which is for some reason even funnier than “eggnog.”

Get your nog on with this recipe, shared by Chef Walter Bundy from The Jefferson Hotel:

Walter Bundy’s Egg Noggin

3 whole fresh eggs*
1 cup heavy cream
1 quart whole milk

1« cups bourbon or rum
_ cups sugar
Fresh grated nutmeg and/or cinnamon (to taste)


Separate eggs into two medium bowls.

Whisk half of sugar with yolks until thick.

Whisk egg whites to medium peaks then fold in remaining sugar.

Whip cream to medium peaks in a large bowl.

In above-mentioned large bowl fold into whipped cream the egg-white mix, then yolk mix, followed by liquor and milk to desired thickness.

Finish by grating nutmeg and/or cinnamon.

Chef’s Note:

This recipe makes decadent eggnog that’s meant to be drunk cold within a couple of hours of its making. Unfortunately, because of its unusual method of production it will lose its airy quality after that amount of time.

* Due to a small percentage of raw eggs containing salmonella, this recipe may not be suitable for people with compromised immune systems.

Nutcracker: 1) A device for crushing nut shells to reveal the meat inside. 2) A kookily plotted Christmas ballet by Peter Tchaikovsky featuring dancing mice, soldiers, spices and beverages. Believe it or not, it wasn’t a success at its premiere, though it features two of the best tunes he ever wrote — the “Waltz of the Snowflakes” and the cello tune in the “Waltz of the Flowers.” Also contains “The Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairies,” which is the least butch title in the history of Western music.

See the “Nutcracker Suite” performed by the Concert Ballet of Virginia — raising money for Boy Scout Troop 596 and the Lee-Davis Drama Club — beginning Dec. 6 and running through Dec. 19, at the Lee-Davis High School auditorium. See our Holiday Almanac or call 358-4387.

Stocking: Oversized, often red, footwear hung by the chimney with care in hopes of receiving “stuffers,” or small presents. Also handy as a coal-delivery device for unruly children. Restoration Hardware — which has a knack for packaging nostalgia that could make Frank Capra green with envy — has added the dubiously named “foot duvets” to its product line of whimsically retro furniture, toys and gewgaws. These down slippers sell for $20 (adults) and $12 (kids). Try some on at the Stony Point Fashion Park store. 272-5613.

Tinsel: A kind of metallic hybrid of inedible pasta and Spanish moss, frequently dangled from the branches of Christmas trees. Bright, shiny and not to be ignored. Reminds us of some Richmond homes during the season. So bundle up, pile the relatives in the car and hit the streets. Look for beacons of light in the sky. They’ll lead you to the gloriously tacky pride and joy of many.

Troll: 1) n., as in, “Let’s get Aunt Alice another ceramic troll for her collection, because she hasn’t got enough stuff to dust already.” 2) v., to sing, as in “troll the ancient Yuletide carol.” On Advent Sunday, Nov. 30, at 5:30 p.m., join the choir of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church for its 34th annual Advent Lessons and Carols. 227 S. Cherry St. Richmond. 648-7980.

Turtledove: More the latter than the former. A fancy member of the pigeon family with roots in Europe and North Africa.

Cuddle up to your little turtledove in one of the most romantic Richmond spots during the holidays — a carriage ride under the stars during “Maymont by Moonlight.” Every Thursday and Friday, between 6-9:30 p.m., running from Dec. 11-19. Reservations required. 358-7155, ext. 329.

Wassail: The glog of England. A warm winter beverage involving ale.

Or try something colder — and more local — from one of Richmond’s brewers. At Richbrau Brewing Co. and Restaurant, 1214 E. Cary St., throw back a Belgian-style Holiday Special Ale, brewed with Belgian rock-candy sugar, and spiced with sweet orange peels for a mellow zest. It has a moderately high alcohol content.

Legend Brewing Company brings out its Belgian Triple White Ale in December. It’s described as a light, medium-bodied ale with high alcohol and a sweet taste, aged one year. In the pub only, patrons can enjoy the Winter Ale. With hints of raisin, plum and black currant, this ale, similar to an oatmeal stout, is 11.2 percent alcohol and has mellowed out since it was first brewed two years ago.

Wenceslaus, King: A Bohemian royal whose story of beneficence enshrined him as the subject of the most famous Boxing Day carol. “Good King Wenceslas” has five — count ’em, five — verses. If you know them all, you are a diligent member of a church choir, freakishly well-informed on the holidays, or both. Hugh Grant knows at least some of the words — he sings a bit of the carol in “Love Actually,” now in area movie theaters.

Yule log: 1) A Scandinavian tradition of burning a huge log in honor of the god Thor. 2) What you’ll feel like sawing when the holidays are over.

Charlie Ban contributed to this story.

Click here for our Holiday Almanac

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