apparently this meme has been circulating, unbeknownst to me. Lo and Behold, when I checked out Jack & Jill this morning, I found the holiday cheer.
And I certainly can't let them have ALL the fun! ;)
1. Eggnog or hot chocolate?
Being that I HATE eggnog, I'll go with hot chocolate. Although I'm really more of a hot tea girl anymore. It takes too long to make real hot chocolate, and the instant versions of my youth just don't live up to my adult palette. I do enjoy the occasional hot cider, but wait for it to cool a bit. It's too strong for me otherwise. And winter is just too cold in the Midwest to enjoy chilled cider.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set the under the tree?
When I was growing up Santa always wrapped presents, and stuffed them pretty full in the INCREDIBLE handmade stockings my mother put together for each of us. If the holiday decorations are out when I go home next week (which I doubt) I'll snap a picture for everyone.
3. Colored lights on the tree/house or white?
When it comes to outdoor decorations my main requirement is CONSISTENCY!!!! Don't have some solid, some blinking and some chasing. Do NOT have white on one tree, blue on another, and multicolored on the house. Or even worse, when you run out of the same strand on the same tree or bush and switch to something completely different. Talk about an eyesore. And then there are the people who set up Santa on one side of the yard and the nativity on the other with everything else in between.
REALLY people? Can we say TACKY?!?!? So in this aspect, I'm a snob.
Didn't have a lot of outdoor decorations growing up. My father didn't want to brave the cold to deal with it, and my mother being too busy herself didn't push the matter. I admire people who take the time to do something tasteful.
As for the indoor tree, we always had colored lights growing up and all kinds of ornaments. Stopped having live trees when I was very young because my brothers both have mold allergies. Plus there's the yearly work and expense. Some day I hope to have my own live tree. I LOVE the smell. Hate to kill a tree, though. Maybe if I got a big enough planter I could have a medium sized fir that lived outside during the warm months of the year and moved inside for the Yuletide. Would be a challenge, but probably worth it.
For my very first tree, though, when I finally have one of my own, I'm thinking white lights with glass/crystal silver decorations. Probably some blue thrown in there. Simple, classy. And if i want more color I can always add it another time.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
5. When do you put your decorations up?
Growing up we tended to do the decorating the day after Thanksgiving, with the Messiah and various Christmas albums playing loudly in the background. I personally haven't decorated in several years, thought I did get out some colored candles that I put up around the tv on Thursday, and draped red pillowcases to look a bit like a tablecloth. Then I went outside and got pine tree trimmings that the tree guys missed last week. Bound some and put it on the front door and arranged some around the tv. It was nice to get a LITTLE holiday cheer in there.
I finally found the living room (in general) and got the post semester heavy duty cleaning/vacuuming done. Only felt right to add some nice touches.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Excluding dessert actually leaves a lot of possibilities. It might not count as holiday dish, but my grandmother makes these special butter rolls from scratch. You can feel your arteries hardening from the lard, but it's SO worth it. Christmas at her house always meant huge meals every night. Typically ham one night and a big thing of beef another. But, like Jack, I LOVE pig!!!!! Give me some ham and I'm a very happy girl.
While it's VERY rare, I do enjoy lamb and this year I'll be having duck with my friends. That's their Christmas dinner tradition and I'm looking forward to it. Occasionally my mom makes beef stroganoff or swiss steak for the holidays, both of which I love, but typically growing up it was ham. But swiss steak has more recently become the staple for Easter dinner and other fancy dinners at my parents house. SOOOOOO not complaining.
But as to sweets-- another holiday treat: growing up a lady in our congregation always made this homemade sticky cinnamon raisin bread. She left a few loaves on our car every Christmas Eve. Gotta take care of pastor ya know. ;) I did it with her one year so kind of learned how to do it. With homemade sugar frosting. That was breakfast and pretty much munch all day food on Christmas Day in my house.
and LASTLY-- homemade scrolls and rosettes of the Norwegian variety. Lard and sugar and flour. OMG delicious. I never learned how to make them with Grandma, and I don't think I'll get the opportunity. I can't get there to visit really and she's pretty frail. She did teach my cousin, Jackie, though and Jackie tells me they aren't too difficult.
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
hmmmm, not sure I really have one. Christmas at the grandparents was always fun but stressful in some ways. And my parents did a good job of getting me good presents. The older I've gotten the more difficult I am to shop for. Well, maybe not NOW but certainly teens and early twenties. Though I have a really good story. You can read about it in number 13. Which is cool since 13 in one of my go-to numbers.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Pretty sure I came to the realization early and gradually re: logic. No chimney so Santa came in the back door. Don't think that anyone actually told me. Maybe. But it meant more presents so who was I to complain? ;)
9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve?
Yes, we always did. The main reason for that, though, may have been my younger brother, Josh. He has autism so the wait was always FAR more difficult for him that me or my other brother. To this day he doesn't have the best sense of time, though he's gotten better. We put everything on the calendar and he's able to see it and count down days. And thanks to perseveration, we all kinda suffered with him.
We didn't do everything on Christmas Eve, though. Some were saved for Christmas Day, in addition to Santa's gifts. After church Christmas Eve we would come home and change out of our church clothes. Then when Papa came home and got settled we would sit and listen to him read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2 and pray. It was important for my parents that my brothers and I know and recognize that Christ was the gift and presents were auxiliary fun.
10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?
Pretty sure they were always chocolate chip. And we left carrots out for the Easter Bunny, which one of my parents would nibble at on the sides to mimic rabbit marks. :)
11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
Loved it as a kid. Meant playing outside in it and sometimes snow days. We had more than one blizzard that cancelled snow in the 80s in Illinois. Then when I was expected to help shovel..... and then the joys of driving in it..... I had an accident in snow and ice when I was 21? 22? thanks to a jerk pulling around and cutting me off because apparently me being cautious was too much for him. I came very close to going down a steep, 30 foot embankment. The car spun out and I connected with the last three feet of guardrail. Impacted left rear quarter. Front end would have seriously injured me. Rear right panel would have ignited the gas tank. Gave us all QUITE a scare. So I have to be VERY zen to drive in certain types of weather now.
I'm not a big fan of White Christmas's. We were often driving Christmas Day, so I'm cognizant that people I care about (as well as Tom, Dick, and Harry) are often traveling, too. I want people to be safe.
12. Can you ice skate?
Not really. When a few times in grade school or junior high. I could mostly stay up, but never really relaxed or developed an aptitude for it. I'm fine on roller skates, but can't do roller blades. They're pretty similar to ice skates as I understand.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I don't know if this is my favorite gift, but I certainly remember it VERY well. I was in 7th grade, and like a typical gregarious girl was learning to be a phone person. This was before decent cordless phones, and I'd mostly have to stand in the kitchen or sit in a crappy chair. Uncomfortable and NOT privacy. My father spent a day drilling holes, splicing wires, etc, and ran a phone jack into my bedroom. My room was above the garage so he didn't have to get into the floor or walls.
Anyway, he hid the phone under my bed and I was none the wiser. As presents were done, my father told me, VERY sternly, to go to my room until I "was called". This was also when you could dial your own phone number to make your landline ring. And that's exactly what he did.
I'm yelling, WHERE IS IT WHERE IS IT, searching, trying to find the receiver. Shows you how well I kept my room clean in those days. (and I must admit that in some ways my housekeeping hasn't improved. But CLUTTER is DIFFERENT than filth :p)
Overall it was pretty cool. :)
Anymore I tend to ask for things I need. My sophomore year of college I had my grandparents get me really big large dictionary and accompanying thesaurus. The next year a filing cabinet. One year at my request my parents bought my contacts. Socks, underwear, shampoo (the good stuff is pretty expensive), a much wanted haircut.... For many years now my grandparents have given money. So I try to buy one thing I WANT. One year it was my back tattoos. Didn't tell them that, though. ;) The rest goes to bills or things I need. This year it went towards a special class I wanted to take. I had to withdraw due to illness but thankfully someone took my spot and reimbursed me. Then it went to bills. :\ ah well. Gotta keep my cell phone running.
14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
ummmmmmm, having a good option of where to go/ what to do? I can always go home, but since I left the church things are kinda sticky. When I DO go to church I would very much like to take communion. I miss the ritual of it and the energetic connection to Source I feel.
BUT I don't want to give my parents the wrong idea. And I'm worried they or my other brother (a devout, born-again Roman Catholic) would see it as sacrilegious. Which would then cause issues. And as I believe I mentioned in TMI two weeks ago, I don't really get a lot out of Christmas Eve service anymore. Going home also means dealing with my youngest brother (the born-again Roman Catholic) and we really don't get along. Lots of water under that bridge and we are very different people. I know he's trying, but I dislike walking on eggshells. Plus my parents' house means sleeping on the floor. AND since I don't currently own a car, it means being stuck there. Can't leave for home if I need/want. And thanks to a legal fubar I'm not allowed to drive my parents' cars. Can't go see friends.
Visiting with certain extended family is very unpleasant. But if I want to see grandparents that often means dealing it the California side of the family. Again, walking on eggshells and sleeping on the floor. Or in a hotel, and I REALLY don't rest well in strange places. Now the Kentucy branch is FABULOUS and I wish I could see them more often.
Staying home, alone, is very lonely and difficult some years. But I've found it's less stressful for me then going to my parents'. One school friend did call me last week to be sure I had plans. She knew i was alone on Thanksgiving and didn't want that for me on Christmas. It was GREATLY appreciated. More than one school friend expressed dismay that I was alone last Thanksgiving and told me I'd be spending it with them this year.
Needless to say they forgot. I don't think this girlfriend will, though. She's older and sees the world differently.
For Thanksgiving or Christmas I could do to my volunteer gig as a guest (as opposed to worker). I tried one Thanksgiving and didn't like it. WAY too crowded, lots of people I didn't know, and i didn't care for the food which was served cafeteria style. So I felt guilty about wasting it. The following year I tried Christmas and found it very depressing. I had become one of those people with 'nowhere' to go. I'd stayed in town instead of going to family. Kinda sucky, but the right decision. lonely and depressed for two days is far better than miserable and trying not to ruin the holiday for my parents.
And at that time I still had a vehicle. Holiday schedule for mass transit means a VERY long time on the bus.
I did try volunteering one year, and it hurt too much. Holiday season is a VERY BAD TIME to be empathic. and I am HIGHLY empathic. I avoid malls and crowded places in general, and only hit the grocery store as needed from about a week before Thanksgiving to a few days into the new year.
So, now that I've been a real downer the SHORT answer is: the most important thing for me about the holidays is to have GOOD options of where to go/what to do. Something enjoyable. Then making the choice to stay home in quiet wouldn't be a lesser of evils, but a choice for me.
I'm with one of my 'sisters' and her husband through late Wednesday. We really aren't DOING anything. Just being together like my typical visits, though we will have a nice Christmas dinner. It's inconvenient for them because their dogs are aggressive towards my dog, and they all have to be kept separated. But they know holidays kinda suck for me and wanted me to have somewhere mostly relaxing to me.
Is is greatly appreciated.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
I refer you back to number 6.
16.What is your favorite holiday tradition?
N/A the traditions I grew up with only apply when I'm with family. I just realized I never listened to the Messiah this year. Though I did listen to one or two holiday albums last week. Weird. During the ending credits of "This Week with George Stephanopoulis" yesterday morning on ABC they played the Hallelujah Chorus. I sang the alto line and that felt good. Truly my favorite thing about the holidays is being able to sing. In parts. With skilled musicians. I do LOVE holidays at my grandmother's church with my extended family. The church part that is. An all wooden sanctuary with incredible acoustics, and 20-35 people all singing harmony. Though a few of us get delegated to melody. We're louder than everyone else. ;) Oftentimes people will stop singing and just listen to us. We all have talent, and have all had some kind of musical training. Be it an instrument or vocal lessons. That's one really cool thing about my family.
17. What tops your tree?
N/A. My mom has a nice light thing for the top of the large tree, but it's probably been a good ten years since the tall tree was out. only reason we get the little tree out is for Josh. It's just too much work. Now that my parents have both (recently) retired, that might change next year. we'll see. My preference is something lit on top of the tree, as opposed to a plain star or an angel.
18. What do you prefer… giving or receiving?
I don't know if I have a preference one way or the other. It's certainly nice to receive. I certainly dislike when in the last several years my parents have had gifts for me (bday, Christmas, etc) and I haven't had any for them. I feel crappy. They know money is perennially tight, but I still hate it. I make sure I call to wish them happy birthday and happy mother's/father's day.
EVERYONE gets something for the holidays and their birthday, even if it's just a card. I leanred yaers ago from my mother to shop year round and hoard gifts. Take advantage of sales, of when you see something appropriate, and not worry about trying to have money to spend all at once. Now, most friends and the neices/nephews don't get their presents until the next time I see them. They may get one thing or several things. Usually with the kids it's several things. And several of them are still pretty young, so cheap happens more often. Books from garage sales, that kind of thing.
The nieces/nephews always get bday cards and holiday cards. And when I can swing it Valentines Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving. But I feel cards are important. First of all, few people take the time anymore!!! And it's a nice way to remind someone you care and they're in your thoughts on occasion. I do REAL, old fashioned cards. Not the family photo in an envelope that goes out to everyone. Cards with messages in them, that I then add to as opposed to just signing "love, Pagan Princess." Cards that get stamped and sent out. When you're young, mail is FUN! And I think as an adult getting mail that ISN'T junk or a bill is a nice surprise.
I don't begrudge people who JUST don't have time or money to send out cards. And I get the 'save a tree' of e-cards, I really do. But I feel it's horribly impersonal, and for some people LAZY, to not send holiday cards anymore. If you feel it's important, you make the time. I feel it's important. I sent out 70 holiday cards this year, plus another 30 that were hand delivered. Those I care about, or who at one point were important in my life, appreciate being remembered. And I feel good having done it for them. Give and receive. Win-win.
19. What is your favorite christmas carol?
Don't really have a favorite. I generally enjoy Christmas music. I sang quite a few interesting things in madrigals in high school, many I truly loved and haven't found outside the genre of madrigal singing. I'd love to have a recording of many of those. I can tell you my LEAST favorite Christmas carol-- the little drummer boy. Junior year of madrigals as we performed that one Saturday night, the guy gave the pitch incorrectly. a FULL STEP too high. And it was uncomfortably high for the sopranos and tenors to begin with. Sounded horrific. But we had to muscle through. Went from being a song that was ok, to one I disliked singing because it goes on forever and keeps getting higher, to something I absolutely abhor.
And again, I admit to having a snobbish streak. When it comes to music, especially of the traditional / religeous variety ...... popular artists tend to UTTERLY RUIN a lot of carols, and sometimes butcher the secular ones as well. Walking around the grocery store during the holidays often hurts my ears.
20. Candy canes…yum or yuck?
I like peppermint, but canes tend to get messy.
21.Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I have re-gifted things, certainly. Or parts of things. Usually if it's something I have no use for, or have had awhile and don't use. Has it ever been a CHRISTMAS present? I don't know. Possibly. My eldest niece and goddaughter have been getting jewelry from when I was younger in the last year or so.
22.Favorite Christmas movie?
I don't really have one, though the Muppet version of A Christmas Carol is pretty fun. I'm not the biggest Dickens fan, at least not if I have to read it. I think "A Christmas Story" is stupid and don't really care for It's a Wonderful Life (let the hate emails begin, lol) I'm just not a "Christmas Movie" person. Miracle on 34th Street does have some very nice bits to it, I'll admit. I enjoy White Christmas because of the singing and dancing. LOVE Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen. My mom and I went to Miss Congeniality on Christmas Day whatever year it came out. That was a great way to spend the afternoon. :D But if I'm gonna pick a 'favorite Christmas' show, I'll say the Doctor Who holiday special. ;)
23. Do you have a nativity scene?
No. Never got around to purchasing one in my early 20s when I was still a practicing Lutheran. Couldn't find one that really spoke to me. My mother has a beautiful, antique creshe. All wood with moss and hay. Maybe one day I'll inherit it. I would display that with love and pride.
24.What is the most annoying thing about this time of year?Very bad holiday music and having all the Christmas merchandise out from October on.