I think Good Housekeeping has a lot in common with Playboy. We’ve been socialized to look with concupiscence at photographs of a fat turkey with all the sides on a tastefully decorated table. If you are well-off or have a post-graduate degree, you read Martha Stewart or Real Simple. The Proletariat get off on All You. Good Housekeeping is somewhere in between. Interlarded with the articles on How I Survived Cancer and Skin Care Products that Really Work (in Real Simple that would be Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Items and Decorating with Mercury Glass) are images of the Impossible. The Christmas edition of Good Housekeeping features a centerfold of elaborately decorated cutout cookies: snowflakes with royale icing, piping, and blue sugar that has somehow been coerced into sticking only to the piping; bells with silver dragees; candy canes with alternating bands of white frosting and red sugar. James McAvoy in a light dusting of powdered sugar. Oops - mind wandered a bit.
For some reason, the lower down the economic totem pole you go, the odder the projects, until you get confectionery constructed from white cake, fruit rollups, ice-cream cones, licorice laces, flattened gumdrops, rolls of Life Savers and toothpicks. Almost every “seasonal” dessert in All You reminds me of a Girl Scout Swap Meet – ingenuity devoted to the inconsequential.
Many glossy pages will cover holiday decorating and creating family traditions. You know, traditions such as Aunt Hester saying “Well, it’s an expensive gift” when your child does not display the appropriate enthusiasm and gratitude. The annual misbegotten children’s craft involving glitter. The cat throwing up after eating a roll of curly ribbon. Or, the traditional family greeting, “Where the hell is the tape?!”
I’ve found an article that describes how to create a lovely menorah from glass cylinders filled with blue glass pebbles and tapers. Do you know how many tapers you would go through in order to light these every night of Chanukah? Forty-four. Forty-four full-size tapers. You could buy out the entire candle section of your local Krogers.
Then there are the pages of gift suggestions – gifts under $50, gifts under $25 and so forth. Let me go snap up that little red-striped baby onesie so cunningly rolled into the shape of a lollipop - awwwww. This box of clever conversation starters! Nesting Christmas dolls! The newest children’s classic If You Give a Mouse an Assault Rifle! Vintage tampon cases! Stationary made by indigent Malaysian orphans from recycled candy wrappers! And you know, I’m not kidding about those tampon cases. They’re for real.
Meanwhile, the November edition of GQ features a chick with her boobs hanging out. Go figure.