Ain’t He Sweet

New York Times crossword Dec. 25 / Constructed by Elizabeth C. Gorski

UPDATE: Hello again, this time from my kitchen table in Philadelphia. We’ve had two Christmases so far  — here and in Boston — and have been lucky enough to be invited for a fabulous dinner across the street, so I’ll keep this brief.

Today’s theme was a Christmas two-fer: A sweet theme topped by a connect-the-dots. The key was figuring out 91 Across, “With 100-Across, image revealed by connecting the circled letters alphabetically.” The answer: GINGERBREAD MAN.

The spicy treat was central to several other clues: “16th-century monarch credited with presenting 91-/100-Acrosses to guests” is ELIZABETH (105 Down); “‘The 91-/100-Across,’ for one” is a FAIRY TALE (110 Down); “Aid for making a 91-/100-Across” is a COOKIE CUTTER (16 Down); “91-/100-Across, often” is a TREE ORNAMENT  (4 Down); “Decoration on a 91-/100-Across” is ICING (76 Across); and a “2001 film in which 91-/100-Across is a character” is SHREK. (Although there actually is a movie called “The Gingerbread Man” with Kenneth Branagh, a thriller definitely not associated with the classic children’s tale of the same name. And neither is to be confused with “The Gingerdead Man” starring Gary Busey: “Evil never tasted so good.” Oy vey.)

There were many other Christmas-themed answers. “‘Scrooged’ actor Robert” is MITCHUM (13 Across), though I’m sure that’s probably not the movie he’d prefer to be remembered for; “Arthur Honegger’s ‘A Christmas ____'” is CANTATA (1 Across); “‘Unto us ___ is given'” is A SON (58 Across); “Prepare, as eggnog” is STIR (132 Across); “Partridge’s preferred tree” is a PEAR (133 Across); “Elves, to Santa: Abbr.” are ASSTS (32 Down); “Relaxer for Santa” is HOT MILK (117 Down); “‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ e.g.” is MOVIE (96 Across); “‘Santa Baby’ singer” is KITT (42 Down); “How Santa’s reindeer are harnessed” is IN PAIRS (83 Down); and “Plopped down on Santa’s lap, e.g.” is SAT (114 Down).

Hanukkah Shout-Out: For those who are celebrating the Festival of Lights, all I can offer is 94 Down, “___ B’rith” — BNAI.

Philly Shout-Out: “Approach like an eagle” is SWOOP IN (26 Across), which I’m sure wasn’t written to refer to the Philadelphia Eagles, but I’m feeling charitable. They beat Dallas on the road yesterday, which is always nice, but it was all for naught: They were eliminated from the playoffs with a Giants win. The season was pretty much a disaster, though to their credit they didn’t throw in the towel after a miserable start; they may yet make .500 when it once looked like they’d be lucky to hit .300.

Happy Holidays Dept.: Hope you enjoyed the puzzle, my post and your holiday season! In other words, hope you are like the Gingerbread Man in today’s puzzle: ALL SMILES (“Clearly happy, 26 Across).

Questions or comments? Leave them here, visit my Facebook page or tweet me @crosswordkathy.

EARLIER: Merry Christmas from Logan airport in Boston! Solved today’s puzzle in the waiting area but am only posting a photo for now. It’s too hard to blog from my iPhone, so I’ll write a full post once we’re back in Philly.

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