After the presidential election in November, we were suddenly (at least it felt sudden) confronted with the holiday season—for many Americans a time of celebration and gathering. But enjoying Thanksgiving can be difficult when your president-elect is filling his cabinet with people whose only qualifications are being white and rich. Watching lawmakers play games with people’s healthcare can make it hard to enjoy unwrapping gifts. Though the holidays were a salve in some ways, providing a distraction and an opportunity to spend time with people we love, they highlighted the fact that we need to change the way we live. Hopefully more of us who have had the privilege and disgrace of ignoring things for so long, are waking up.
Having the time, energy, and resources to throw a party is a privilege. Having something to celebrate is a privilege. I hope in the new year we can all spend some time thinking about how we use that privilege. I propose that it is possible to have fun and throw parties while also doing some good. In fact, I think our hosting and homes will feel better when we combine the two. Remember, everything is political. And rich people seem to throw fundraisers all of the time, why can’t we? They rent ballrooms and have Beyoncé perform, we might have to settle for our backyard and a boombox. Our parties will be more fun and have better food.
We hosted a small holiday open house in December and turned it into a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. The deal was, I would bake a lot of cookies (cookie parties are the best parties), Bryan would make some drinks, and our guests would bring cash to be donated to Planned Parenthood. We made it clear that our guests should not bring anything else (no host gifts or cookies or bottle of wine or whatever—CASH. But we all stressed that it was not necessary, we do not want to make friends who may be strapped for cash feel bad about not being able to donate—there are other ways to help.). I put some latent crafting skills to work to make a donation box. We designed and produced three custom buttons for the event (I bought a button maker years ago). And I printed some fact sheets about the great work that Planned Parenthood does and had them available throughout our apartment. Otherwise, it functioned as a fairly standard holiday party, though with perhaps a bit more talk about politics. At the end of the night we had spent time with some of the people we love, had eaten our fill of cookies, AND we had raised $750 for Planned Parenthood. Not a bad score for an afternoon with friends. Even if we had only raised $50 it would have felt like a success. Something is always better than nothing. The revolution starts with lots of little things. We need a revolution—now. (We needed it ages ago, but now is all we got.)
So, my fellow homebodies, entertainers, and bon vivants—what can we do? What have you done? What do you need ideas for? How do we make our domestic spaces RADICAL spaces of RESISTANCE? Let’s use the comments below to collect ideas that other people might be able to use.
Some thoughts to get us started:
- Follow our lead and turn your next party into a fundraiser. Maybe instead of birthday gifts you ask for donations in your name to a favorite non-profit? Host a cocktail party where you suggest a $5 donation per cocktail with all of the donations going to your favorite organization? You could even have guests vote on which organization they would like to receive the money.
- If you are going to dinner at a friend’s house, rather than bring the standard (and usually unrequested) bottle of wine, donate money (even $10 would be great!) to an organization you know your host would support.
- Host a clothing or food drive at your place. People bring their useful old stuff and you agree to do the annoying part and deliver it to an organization who can use it. Maybe everyone gets an ice cream sundae for showing up.
- Do you and your friends make stuff? What if you had a one-day only stoop sale where you sold your pottery or prints or knitwear and all of the profits went to charity? Or throw a big bash and ask friends to donate work for a silent auction?
- Have an old-fashioned change jar where anyone who lives with you or visits you can dump spare change and then donate to an organization. Make it clear where donations will go. Keep it by the front door.
- And it isn’t all about money! Make it educational—bring people together to share ideas for activism and resistance. You can make a pot of fondue and your friend who volunteers as a tutor can share what that work is like to help convince others to join them. You can have a brainstorming sessions to come up with ways of connecting with others in your community. Or spend your time writing to government officials to let them know what is important to you.
Like many of you and millions of others around the world, I took to the streets on the 21st to participate in the Women’s March. It was a great day (though I certainly acknowledge its shortcomings) that really did feel like the beginning of something. And then this weekend our airports were flooded with people who were protecting the American ideal. We can do this. But now the work gets harder and we have to be relentless. Please join me. Imagine how good it will feel to discuss what we cooked AND the good it did?!
I love you all, even the hater and losers. (too soon?)
I thought I would share one recipe from our December cookie extravaganza that was a big hit with our friends. These Cardamom and Walnut Snowballs are from my friend Malika Ameen’s beautiful cookbook Sweet Sugar, Sultry Spice. They are a wonderful variation on the basic Mexican Wedding Cookie or Russian Tea Cake or whatever wonderful immigrant group they may be named after in your house. They have a remarkably long shelf life (at least a week at peak deliciousness, but they can also be frozen for longer storage). Bake a batch and invite some friends over to discuss how you’re going to change the world.
Walnut Cardamom Snowballs (from Sweet Sugar, Sultry Spice by Malika Ameen)
- 16 tablespoons (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups raw walnut halves
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
Preheat your oven to 325° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and cardamom until light and fluffy. The tenderness of the cookie depends on how much air you incorporate in this step. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined. Add the flour and beat on low speed until no streaks of flour remain. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the walnuts and continue to beat on low speed until evenly distributed and lightly crushed, about 30 seconds. Chill the dough for about an hour.
Spoon tablespoon sized mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spaced 1-inch apart. Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the pans until they can be handled but are still warm to the touch, about 5 minutes.
Put the confectioners sugar into a medium bowl. Gently lift each cookie from the baking sheet and bury it in the sugar until all of the cookies are completely covered. Let the cookies cool completely in the sugar, about 10 minutes. Once cool, remove the cookies from the sugar and gently toss each cookie between your hands to shake off the excess sugar. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.