I saw this evening on another blog I follow a fabulous idea: The Christmas Meme. So I thought, since I have been busy with other things besides posting here, this would be a good way to swing back into it!
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
BOTH! Have you never put egg nog in your hot chocolate? Or your coffee? Better yet, egg nog and Amaretto. Even better, hot chocolate, egg nog and Amaretto.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or place them under the tree?
In my world, Santa NEVER wraps. How are you supposed to tell what he left if his gifts blend in with everyone else's? Nooo. The good stuff is displayed out in the open...and the 'useful' gifts from Mom and Dad are wrapped, i.e. pajamas, underwear, socks, clothes.
3. Lights on the tree: colored or white?
The more lights, the better. White, colored, who cares? The important thing is, there are lights.
We never did mistletoe. My parents had six girls, one boy. Did we want to have to kiss HIM? Heck no. I was not burdened by the potentially embarrasing idea of mistletoe until working as a docent in a historic house museum. They hang it there, and this one new docent who was beyond creepy AND wife shopping tried to talk me into standing under it. I'd like to think I let him down gently, but he did slam the 150 year old front door on his way out.
5. When to begin decorating?
My dad had a fabulous tradition that my mom let die the moment he did. I know that doesn't sound nice, but hey, what mother of 7 children wants to have to wait until Christmas Eve to drag the kids out to the tree farm (remember those?) to pick out the Charley Brown-iest snaggletoothed arbor, drag it home, set it up, string the lights, let the kids pile on approximately 3 packages of tinsel within a square foot radius, AND bake cookies to hang on the tree as well. Not to mention, the driving around the neighborhood looking at the exterior lights the rest of the world had the forethought to hang BEFORE Christmas Eve...for our viewing pleasure. Not to mention the labor waiting for the parentals after they managed to get us all in bed for the night.
My tradition? Decorate as soon as ethically possible, which means the day after Thanksgiving. I find it easier to just leave the decorations up all year. Less work. I haven't made it an entire year, but once I did decide at tax time perhaps I should take them down.
6. Favorite Christmas Dish?
My family makes Mexican food. While we are not Hispanic, we're smart enough to know it's the best food on the planet. It just doesn't get any better. And my sister makes this terrific casserole (formerly coined 'Chicken Tijuana') only twice a year: Christmas and Easter. When we noticed that it was deemed acceptable to prepare this culinary masterpiece solely on religious holidays, we named it appropriately: at Christmas it's called "Chicken Christ is Kickin". On Easter, it's "Chicken Christ is Risen." Hope that doesn't offend anyone. We say it with love.
7. Favorite Holiday Memory?
Oddly it was the year I figured out there wasn't a Santa. My youngest siblings (twins) were about a year and a half old. So there was a wide range of kids from age 8 to toddlers. More kids, more fun! And toddler people are party pleasers anytime of year. Plus, it's the first one I really remember clearly, being 8. My dad and Gramps made us a giant dollhouse that had four huge rooms, it stacked in all these cool ways. They made it big enough for 6 girls and one slightly effeminate boy to crowd in front of at once. Some of the furniture was 'real', meaning plastic, and some my mom made from household items. The house had the grooviest wallpaper...sooo very late 1960's. Somehow, my sister Kathy and I scored two groovy go-go dresses that matched the wallpaper pretty darned closely. But then again, most home and fashion textiles of that era were affected by Timothy Leary in some form or another.
8. When did you find out the truth about Santa?
Again, I was 8 years old. I'd found, whilst accidentally on purpose snooping for evidence that would prove my friends theories correct on the reality of parent as Santa...several boxes of Barbie Bedroom Suite furniture under my parents bed. Really Mom, you WANTED me to figure it out, didn't you? Out of their 7, my parents had 3 of the nosiest kids on the planet. You don't plant Mattel Barbie boxes under your bed in November unless you want your kids to finally give YOU credit for the glory Santa's been getting for nearly a decade.
Plus, I'd have had to be an idiot to believe that Santa made all that stuff you can get in any store up in his workshop. An even bigger idiot to believe that his elves made doll furniture from egg cartons and empty soup cans covered in fabric you recognize from the Easter dress your mom made. I guess having 7 kids wears out one's ability for stealth in the Christmas department.
9. Snow: Love it or Hate it?
I love it, as long as I don't have to be in it.
10. Can you ice skate?
11. Favorite Gift?
My favorite gift was one I never 'really' got. My dad was a straight laced Catholic who would allow us to wear a go-go dress (as long as our knees didn't show) but would NEVER permit us to wear the fashion necessity commonly referred to as the 'go-go boot'. He was the meanest Dad ever. Nor were we allowed to chew gum under any circumstances. That's another story. When I was 11, there were three shoebox sized boxes under the tree for me, Kathy and Debbie. In my father's handwriting on each box: "Open Last." Which of course we did. Three pairs of black go-go boots. Heaven. He'd relented and was only the coolest Dad EVER. One problem...mine were waaayyyyy too small. My parents were too busy with 7 kids to ever get around to exchanging my boots, so I never got to wear them...and soon after my Dad was killed in a plane crash. My favorite childhood present were those boots that never fit. No..it was the look on my Dad's face when I opened them. That's the best gift I got as a kid.
12. Most important thing about Christmas?
Family. The bigger, the better. The noisier, the best.
13. Favorite Tradition?
My Dad (that old stick in the mud) HATED it when people ripped open their presents all at once. We were never allowed to do this. We all sat in a circle, and the smallest children who had most recently learned to read were given the task of passing out the gifts to all. We all took turns, one gift at a time, around the circle opening and sharing with everyone what was received. And nary a thankyou was forgotten. I loved that...it was exciting and maddening at the same time. My Dad was a smart guy, who loved the idea of anticipation and appreciation of receiving a gift. I'd never do it any other way.
14. Giving or Receiving?
When I was a kid, of course it was receiving. But once I had kids, it never occured to me to ask for anything. Because I already had it. I much prefer giving, it's an adrenaline rush.
15. Favorite Christmas Song?
That's a tough one. I've got three: "O Holy Night", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Silent Night." Specifically by Manheim Steamroller (Silent Night...not the others).
16. Saddest Christmas Song?
Again, a tough one to pin down. ' Mary Did You Know' brings a tear to my eye. But what will send me over the edge and one that I don't like to hear on the radio on the way to work as I will arrive in tears with everyone thinking my husband must be beating me instead of believing that it really was a Christmas song...is "Silent Night" by aforementioned Manheim Steamroller. Those violins actually tear at my heartstrings, and at the end, where the wind is whooshing and you can hear the bells jingle on Santa's sleigh brings back all my childhood Christmas memories to a weird little video playing in my head.
It's pretty much my everything as far as Christmas songs go. I see the nativity set my mom made in ceramics class. The weird cone shaped Wisemen on the mantle with the silky angel hair we were forbidden to touch because it could cut our fingers. The sounds of dishes being washed down in the kitchen while we lay in bed waiting for our parents to hurry up and get to bed so Santa could come. The creaky steps we gingerly avoided treading on as we snuck downstairs to see our presents under the tree, and the excitement with which we quickly raced back up to report to the others (who were too much of a weenie to risk getting caught out of bed) what treasures lay below. Of getting dressed up in new dresses our Mom made and new patent leather maryjane shoes for church. Of seeing the Baby Jesus at the altar and wishing we could pick him up and hold him. And of coming home, sitting around in a circle and opening our presents...and of the two people who made that all possible.
17. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
Now, I'm a person who believes a Christmas tree should be laden with candy canes. I will never eat them, but they ARE useful for stirring hot chocolate...specifically hot chocolate that's been laced with Amaretto, Irish Cream....and egg nog.