On the 13th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me an ugly Christmas sweater and not a pear tree.

As someone who is totally obsessed with Christmas, I can never wait for Black Friday, In my house— traditionally on Black Friday— we decorate and string lights while listening to Christmas music for about nine hours straight. My home goes from judiciously and simply adorned to non-stop, in-your-face Christmas, and I couldn’t enjoy this transition any more. I love the sophisticated and tacky paradox of Christmastime; we all know these two ideals to which we all should aspire: the white and gold “winter wonderland,” in which people drink snow-chilled champagne, and the intense North Pole explosion, with houses decked not only with boughs of holly but with enough multicolored light, deer, angels and/or Santa inflatables to illuminate a small developing nation. I decided upon coming to college that my dorm rooms and apartment would always be of the multicolored variety around Christmas. I get to be ironically, or at least self-consciously, festive. I want to decorate as loudly andcartoonish-ly as possible before I leave the Hilltop and before I move to some place where there are town-imposed guidelines for Christmas decorating

I personally cherish the ultimate symbol of holiday irony: the tacky Christmas sweater. With the rise of the hipster in the past few years, ugly or weird fashion has been accepted as the height of cool. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the hipster would latch onto anything made from uncomfortable wool, jingle bells, sequins, fake snow, crocheted reindeers and other festive touches for his or her preferred outerwear of choice. Given that the hipster has now (ironically) become mainstream, everyone has clawed his or her way to the back of a parent’s closet to find these gems from the confused early 1990s at least once. Don’t deny that you haven’t done this; the payoff is too great, as you get to ironically love and wear a tacky Christmas sweater — it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

For my last recipe of this semester, I’m sharing the Fantastically Festive Fruit Cake. Baking a fruit cake is the definitive way to be ironically festive because this is the baked good that every single person actively despises. Don your tacky sweater, blast Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and serve up your slice of holiday cheer. You sure as heck know that’s what I’m doing this weekend. Christmas Brendan is here.

Fantastically Festive Fruit Cake


  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pound of candied pineapple
  • 3/4 cup of candied cherries
  • 1 pound of pitted dates
  • 1 pound of Brazil nuts


  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and line a bread loaf pan with parchment or wax paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Brazil nuts, dates, cherries and pineapple. Next, sift in the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix well.

  • In a smaller bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla; beat until foamy. Pour this over the fruit mixture, and mix well before pouring into the pan.
  • Bake for an hour and a half or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let it cool for an hour before drizzling brandy or rum on top, letting it soak in. Top it off with powdered sugar.

Brendan Quinn is a junior in the College. This is the final appearance of LIFE BEYOND LEO’S this semester.


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