I don't do the "indirectly tagged" memes - unless I have something fun and snarky to say - but when someone asks me, as Gem of the Ocean did, how can I say no?
(Karen, heads up - the time will come soon when you are getting ready for the 5:15 pm Sunday Mass at your church, and woman will appear and call your name, and it won't be the BVM, so please, refrain from immediately dropping to your knees, dear, because you'll just embarrass both of us . . . and Peterkins better be talking to you, because what the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks am I going to do with all this special order frozen moose?!?!)
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Oh, please, one must use wrapping paper - I have even been known to incorporate the Sunday funnies, as well as plain, brown paper bags that I have hand-decorated. I am not a good wrapper and I am amazed by some people who can create gorgeous gifts with elaborate wrapping, but there is so much more fun in tearing away than lifting out.
2. Real or artificial tree?
Real - I adore the smell of pine in my house at the holidays. When I was a child, we had an artificial tree every year. I suppose us being the hardy country folk we were, what with living in the wilds of the Bronx in our apartment, the artificial tree was more appropriate. Plus, Mom hated vacuuming pine needles. For some strange reason, however, our parents insisted that "putting up the Christmas tree" was a two-day process - on Day One, the artificial tree had to be assembled and then left alone so the branches could "settle". I tried to argue that placing the lights, ornaments, and garland would cause the branches to "settle", but my words fell on deaf ears. BTW, in addition to the fake tree, we had no fireplace, so every year my father would turn on WPIX-11 in New York City, that would broadcast an uninterrupted shot of the Yule log burning at Gracie Mansion (the mayor's official residence) with Christmas music playing. Fake tree. Fake fireplace. However, our family sentiments were real, thank God.
3. When do you put up the tree?
Within Advent certainly and usually about two weeks prior to Christmas. This year it will be December 15th. And unless there is something wrong with the tree, such as it drying out too fast to where it becomes a fire risk, it will damn well stay up until the Feast of the Epiphany! I hate seeing Christmas trees tossed on December 26th! What happened to the Twelve Days of Christmas?
4. When do you take the tree down?
See Number 3.
5. Do you like egg nog?
Meh. I can take it or leave it. Now, hot chocaolate with peppermint schnapps? Such that it tastes like you are drinking a Thin Mint with a kick? That's worth having! Also, the tradition with my husband and me is that Christmas morning starts with mimosas made with freshly-squeezed orange juice.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Hands down - the "Creepy Crawler" kit! God, I loved making Creepy Crawlers! C'mon, c'mon, a show of hands - who remembers those things?
7. Did you have a Nativity scene?
Of course! My parents married in November 1956 and as a wedding gift, my mother's two younger brothers presented the couple with a full Hummel Nativity set, complete with manger. This was at a time when the German nuns were still hand-making each figurine and it is simply lovely. When I had my oldest child, my mother gifted me with the set, making me promise that when Katherine gets married, it will go to her and therafter be handed down from mother to child. We will figure out what to do if the lineage breaks, but in the meantime it is set up every Christmas in a place of honor.
8. Hardest person to buy for?
It was always my Grandfather, Michael Koretzky - so we always wound up with candy or razor blades for his shaver. He never complained and would be delighted every year when he opened the presents.
9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Honestly, I can't think of one. Maybe a "coffee table book" on something that did not really interest me? I do not like getting candy, so please, save the See's gift certificates for yourself.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail, if I ever get around to it. There are years when I don't - I like to do a newsletter, too, but I endeavor to make it actually interesting to read. Folks, no one wants to hear about the weekend back in May when you visited old friends and it was very nice, or the boils that Pete had to get lanced back in August. On the other hand, if any family members were arrested or have decided that they were born in the wrong gender and are going to do something about it, we're all ears. Pictures of new tattoos are also appreciated.
Speaking of pictures, for those who live in Southern California and like to include a family portrait, please note: THE PICTURE OF THE FAMILY IN JEANS AND LONG-SLEEVE WHITE T-SHIRTS ARTFULLY POSED ON THE BEACH WITH JAKE THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER HAS BEEN DONE! STOP IT!
11. Favorite Christmas movie?
First, please help us at my office convince our one attorney that despite what she thinks, Herbie the Elf on the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Christmas program is gay. We're not holding that against him, but that little "I want to be a dentist!" darling is flaming, Mariana!
Okay, back to the question - I like the 1951 "A Christmas Carol" with Alistair Sim as Scrooge. Love the quote by the Ghost of Christmas Present: "We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole three-hundred and sixty-five. So is it true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men's hearts one day of the year, but in all days of the year. You have chosen not to seek Him in your heart. Therefore, you will come with me and seek Him in the hearts of men of good will."
12. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
First Sunday of Advent, usually. I avoid Black Friday like the Black Death.
13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
No, but some have made their way to rummage sales.
14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Ah, in my childhood it was most of the Viglia, the traditional Polish Christmas Eve feast prepared from scratch by my grandmother. Nowadays, it is my husband's English Trifle that he makes for dessert every year. Honey, spare no expense with the bourbon, alright?
15. Clear lights or colored lights on the tree?
Pshaw - who would put up only clear lights?! Colored! BTW, I agree with the Caroline Cannonball - the proper sequence is lights, ornaments, garland. NO TINSEL!
16. Favorite Christmas song?
Let's make this clear - if it is a religious song, it's a Christmas carol, in which case the top prize in my book will always go to O Holy Night. I tear up at the lyrics:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
As for a Christmas song, again I need the Kleenex whenever I hear I'll be Home for Christmas. It was written in the midst of WWII, and you can imagine the longing in a GI's heart in Europe or Asia as he heard the lines:
I'll be home for Christmas,
If only in my dreams.
God bless our troops. Excuse me while I take a moment . . .
Okay, I can continue . . .
17. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I've got kids, so we stay home. Kids should wake up on Christmas morning in their own beds at the crack of dawn, excited to see what Santa has done. Something I heard to do - take baby powder and a pair of rain boots, and make tracks going from the fireplace, to the tree, and back again. Guaranteed to make the eyes of young children grow HUGE. Yes, I do believe.
18. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Um, let's see, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer (yes, I am typing this from memory), Vixen, Blitzen, Cupid, Comet, Stan, Fat Harry, yo' mama, Harvey Keck . . .
The answer is no.
19. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Angel, preferably. We have both and alternate each year.
20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Morning. When the kids get to be teens, then we will switch to Eve. The 7-year-old still believes in Santa Claus and the 10-year-old takes the Fifth on that issue.
21. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
People who say, "Happy Holidays!" Malls. Corporate Christmas parties.
22. Best thing about this time of year?
Birth of the Savior. However, with regards to the spirit of the season, I think no one put it better than Jackie Gleason in his role as Ralph Kramden, when he gave a speech about Christmas - watch it here and I dare you not to cry!
I tag anyone who actually likes fruitcake (the only person of whom I know was my father, Frank Martin, of blessed memory (+), who relished the abomination) .