Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top 5 Holiday Secrets by Kendall Kulper

To celebrate the holidays, the authors at Darkly Delicious YA are dishing about what we love (and hate) about the holidays. Here today is Kendall Kulper, author of Salt & Storm. Click here to learn more about Kendall and her work.

Holiday Embarrassing Moment:

The Christmas before the husband and I were engaged, we were talking about what to get his parents for Christmas when I joked that the only thing we could give them that they’d actually want would be a grandchild. Husband laughed, agreed, and said it was too bad it’d be a couple more years before we could actually do that.

Flash-forward to two weeks later, we’re at my parents’ house for their Christmas party, my mom and mother-in-law are talking to the husband when I hear from across the room the husband say, “You’ll never guess what we’re giving you for Christmas!”

ohnodon’tsayitdon’tsayititwasjustajoke I think, just as the husband says “A grandchild!” I run into the room, skidding on my three-inch-heels, to see the moms with matching looks of shock.

“Not right now!” I say. “Grandchild in, like, five years!”

The moms let out a sigh of relief and my mom, ever the pragmatist, said, “Thank goodness, because otherwise that wedding dress would never fit.”

Worst Gift I Ever Received:

My dad is so terrible at giving gifts, it’s endearing. I’d say they’re joke gifts except that he completely, 100% is not kidding and also he gets offended if we act like we don’t like them. Here is an (abridged) list of some of the more WTF presents he’s given me and my family:

An empty, page-free photo album, which had been sitting in one of our closets for at least 20 years (“But you like photos!”).

A single copy of George Magazine—the now-defunct, political magazine—to my completely-uninterested-in-politics, special education teacher mom.

Brand-new baseball cards to the husband (he then immediately asked if he could have them back).

A ruler.

A huge, flaming pink Hello Kitty bathrobe (seen here: [bit.ly]).

A necklace which he made himself, using fishing line and those giant plastic beads (this was actually very cute, but he is not a crafty man).

Rewrapped pieces from my mom's jewelry box (as in, jewelry she already owns).

CDs, books, and DVDs clearly more in line with his interests, after giving which he says “If you don't want it, I'll take it.”

A book entitled “Teach Your Kids Financial Independence.”

Favorite Holiday Movie/Book:
I could actually talk for days about the perfection that is It’s a Wonderful Life. Every year, I make a point to see it at least once, and every year the husband takes bets on how long I’ll last before I burst into tears. It’s just so wonderful and beautiful and inspiring and humble and the things it says about community and family and responsibility and taking pride in your work and finding meaning in the small things and Imma just leave this right here:
"I feel that in a small way we are doing something important. Satisfying a fundamental urge. It's deep in the race for a man to want his own roof and walls and fireplace, and we're helping him get those things in our shabby little office."
[weeping] Just please watch it right now please.

Favorite/Worst Holiday Tradition:

This is both a favorite and a worst: My parents, especially my mom, have always gone sort of—I guess the nice way to put it would be overboard?—on Christmas. I’m talking the whole house, inside and out, covered in wreaths and bells and lights and bright red bows. She sets up nutcrackers on each step of the stairs and has a collection of thirty (for real) photos of our family with Santa, all the way back to when my brother was a baby. But the best, and simultaneously the worst, tradition we have is the Christmas scavenger hunt.

This started out when my brother and I were really little: my mom would place clues around the house and we’d go from one spot to another, following the clues until we got to the end, where there’d usually be some special present for us.

Since we’ve gotten older, though, the scavenger hunt has evolved into a multi-hour extravaganza of sharing our favorite things and feelings about the past year. So we wander from room to room, reading rhymes and then, like, talking about the best book we read that year. It’s fun, but so brutally long. One year we actually had to take a break for lunch. It’s one of those sweet things that also makes me realize just how weird and wonderful my family is.

Favorite/Worst Holiday Treat:

Favorite: My sister-in-laws gingerbread cookies should be outlawed, they are so good. They’re always puffy and perfect and not too sweet, which means I usually eat three or four at a time. She and my mother-in-law have been perfecting this recipe for the last few years and they finally completely nailed it, but even though I consider myself a perfectly adequate cook, I’ve never gotten it right. Hers are like these perfect little gingerbread cakes and mine are like clove-flavored sawdust cookies.

Worst: I just can’t get behind mulled anything. Wine, cider, rum—every time I see it on a menu somewhere, I always think it’s going to be amazing and delicious and then as soon as I drink it I’m like “You know what would be better? If they took out all the spices.”



  1. The scavenger hunt sounds great!

  2. And I love the Hello Kitty bathrobe! LOL!

  3. To funny on the baby! I could totally see you rushing into the room to clarify what your husband said. The robe looks good on you! =)

    1. Yeah, not quite the Christmas miracle they were expecting....

  4. I have never seen It's A Wonderful Life. Isn't that strange? My husband hasn't either.

    1. No time like the present! Sometimes small indie theaters will play it around the holidays and that's always a great way to watch!

  5. Replies
    1. thanks! (even if it's somewhat unintentional ;) )

  6. Kelly, you should try to catch it on TV. It's a great movie.

  7. Great post. I think viewing of the original It's A Wonderful Life should be mandatory.

  8. I haven't watch Wonderful Life in years...I think it's going on the list for 2013. Also, so hilarious about your dad's gifts! Love it.

  9. My dad is terrible with gift giving too. He would rather that you asked him for money and you go buy your gift than actually getting the gift himself. *laughs*