Monday, December 10, 2007

Holly Jolly

Warning: Long post.

We've been busy, as you all have, preparing for the holidays. Since it's been a few years for me since we've really celebrated a North American Christmas (2 years ago, we were in France; last year I was an invalid, so there were [gasp] no decorations!!!, and this time we're going to Canada to celebrate with the closest-geographically family), this year I wanted to do it up right. I insisted on a Christmas tree, decorated the house with all my holiday ornaments, and began (albeit a little late) the shopping. This is not as easy to do with an infant, so I'm not done yet. And some people may just get gift cards if I can't think of anything brilliant to get them. I'm just saying. There haven't been any cookies baked yet, but I'm sure I'll break down at some point. And we've already attended one holiday party, following which I ate the entire box of peanut butter meltaways I got as a favor in one day. (Yeah, I don't think I need any cookies.)

But this is the year when we start deciding how it will be. How our family will celebrate Christmas. Morning or Eve? Lots of family or intimate? Turkey or Not? When I was a kid, we started with the big celebrations, but my mom made a decision one year that Christmas would be celebrated at home. We forged our own traditions, and still these mean the most to me. Dressing up on Christmas Eve, just the 4 of us (5 when Dr. B joined the family). Having a supper of homemade soups, open-face sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres, pickles and olives and nuts and other little grabbie things, and yummy beverages. Family pictures in front of the tree. Slowly opening gifts, one at a time and taking turns, and taking the time to ooooh and aaaah. My sister trying to be the last one to open a gift every year (and the look of horror on her face when she realized I had hidden one under the chair and beat her at her own game.) Listening to our Christmas Music (ie: Elvis, Dean Martin, the Oak Ridge Boys, [my favorites], Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Jim Neighbors, and Jackie Gleason [not as much my favorites].) Staying up late with my Mom talking after everyone else surrendered to sleep, then sleeping in the next day. Opening Santa's gifts, then making breakfast. Playing with our new toys (when I was little). Spending Christmas Day doing much of nothing, most of the time in our pajamas. Watching the parade if we didn't sleep through it. Then helping prepare Christmas dinner, which was always Prime Rib of Beef, served in the dining room on the good china and crystal.

This was Christmas to me. I miss it, every year, and I miss my Mom more. But I know that the traditions we start will be just as important for Rowan as mine were for me. And I am blessed that Dr. B knew my Mom and loves her traditions as much as I do. (Well, except for the patient gift-opening thing. He hates that part.) When December rolls around, he asks for Elvis to be put in the stereo, and sings along with Deano while driving through the snowy night.

So when I got this email from a friend, I knew I had to answer. Rather than forwarding it on, I thought I'd post it here, and start another dreaded meme. And this time, I'm not chickening out and not tagging anyone--I'm tagging everyone who reads this! But especially those I think won't do it, like Katia and Kyliemac. And Vivi. And Aimee. Come on, guys. Share. And if you are a non-blogger, (Margaret! Borgenfamily!) please email me your answers. I'm snoopy that way.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? gift bags. I'm a crappy wrapper. I do both, but prefer the easier and prettier. (Really, I am a terrible wrapper. A kindergartner could do better.) This year, my goal is to sew some reusable ones out of some Christmas fabric I got.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real, but I'm allergic, so I have to trim it wearing gloves or my hands break out.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually Thanksgiving weekend, but this year I was still in the Bahamas, so we did it the next weekend.

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's Day if we have to work on Jan. 2, Jan. 2 if we don't. We water with a combination of water and 7up, and it stays very fresh. One year, it was in front of the window and it actually had new growth by the time we took it down!

5. Do you like eggnog? Meh. Creamy, sweet and rich? I'd rather have ice cream.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I loved my play kitchen. Papa Borgen made me a cupboard, and I got the stove, sink and fridge and the little table and chairs. Later Grandpa Skarphol made me a play house for it, and I was set!

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? no

8. Hardest person to buy for? Dr. B

9. Easiest person to buy for? Dr. B's Mom. She always wants mock turtlenecks from Talbot's in red, white and black. Easiest being? Lucy. She doesn't care if she gets rawhides every year.

10. Worst Christmas Gift you ever received? a sweatshirt with scottie dogs appliquéd on it, and a little lace collar and bow sewn at the neck. I was twelve, but even then I wouldn't wear it.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. And usually late. New Year's cards!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love White Christmas. I totally want to wear one of those big red dresses with the fur trim like Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. And I always fall asleep in the middle. But also love Elf and a Christmas Story. Will have to rent the new Shrek one this year.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I used to start right after Halloween, but now that Rowan's here, um... last week?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. I used to teach in Catholic schools, and got a lot of gifts. Better to share, IMO.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Shrimp with cocktail sauce, Spritz cookies, iced sugar cookies, lefse with butter and sugar, Mom's meatballs and olives and other nibblies. Oh, and Dr. B's Mom's Pecan Salmon Cheese Ball. It's so good, I could eat it every single day.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I want multicolored, but I'm waiting for the clear ones to die first. The dumb things just keep working.

17. Favorite Christmas song? What Child Is This, Coventry Carol, Blue Christmas (Elvis) and anything on Billy McLaughlin's Wintersongs and Traditionals Christmas album. (He is an AMAZING guitarist and songwriter, who has had to relearn all his own music left-handed due to a neuromuscular disease that nearly ended his career. He inspires me in so many ways.) Hint: I would love the two new Holiday albums he has on his website. Heh. Please play these videos to get a taste of his music. He is unbelievable.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I like to stay at home, but this year we are going to Canada. I really am looking forward to it!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Only if I sing it.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I used to do an angel, but I now have a small collection (Catholic school Xmas presents!) so I do a star and keep all my angels together. I also have a snowman grouping. I only have one penguin and one polar bear, though. (Not that I need any more.)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Dr. B likes morning, I like Eve. We have to decide this between us.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? How all my pants shrink. I just hate that!

23. What is the "corniest" family tradition you do, or miss doing? The annual last-gift fight with my sister. And I used to love to lie under the tree and blur my eyes and look at the lights and ornaments when I was a kid. I thought it was really beautiful. I still do.

24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? I'm not a big fan of anything mechanical that dances and plays a tune.

25. Which looks best, theme trees or homey trees? homey trees for me, but whatever makes you happy makes me happy! (OK, I do think the pink, marabou feather with high heels and bustiers à la Victoria's Secret are just horrible.)

1 comment:

PutYourFlareOn said...

I think I might have time to get this done before Christmas. But don't count on it before Weds. That's when I fly out with Max! Yikes.

I liked your list. And the Victoria Secret's tree sounds so weird!

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