I enjoyed reading Jaquandor's responses to the Christmas Quiz so I figured I'd post my own answers to the questions:
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Some of both. I am not a great gift wrapper. My sister-in-law, Toni, always makes the most gorgeous packages. It's almost a shame to open them. Fancy home made bows and all. My wrapping makes the presents look like Charley Brown did it. Oh well. I mean well.
2. Real tree or artificial?
Fake with the lights already wired on. For me real trees are like Cats. I can admire them at OTHER people's houses, but I just don't want to deal with the mess and nuisance.
3. When do you put up the tree?
Shortly after Thanksgiving. Often Thanksgiving weekend. I take it down EARLY, so this is the only way to get any time to appreciate it.
4. When do you take the tree down?
I've been known to have it all packed up and put away by 4:00 PM on Christmas day which makes my husband scowl. So I try to hold off till the 26th. But left up to me, I'd dismantle the thing on Christmas eve. When I'm done, I'm DONE.
5. Do you like eggnog?
Yep - but no rum.
6. Favorite gifts received as a child?
One year our family got a ping pong table. That was fun.
7. Hardest person to buy for?
My husband. He is impossible. If he wants something he goes out and buys it. So there never seems to be anything that he is particularly hoping for or would like. Also his birthday is Dec 1 so I've used up all my creative juices getting THAT figured out so by the time Christmas rolls around I'm fresh out of ideas.
We've tried several methods:
(1) Just tell me what you want
(DUD - no excitement or surprise that way, sort of misses the whole point)
(2) I do my very best on my own and HOPE he will like it.
DOUBLE dud. We're out the money for presents neither of us like and then stuck with stuff we don't want but feel hesitant to get rid of because it was a present that was SUPPOSED to please. Like the smoker I got him two years ago. It's out in the shed somewhere but has never even been out of the box.
(3) Forget it! We have too much stuff already - let's just agree NOT to get each other presents.
Another dud. Christmas is not only about the presents, but some token is a part of the magic and it just feels lame if we do nothing.
Then we finally hit on a solutions to the whole Christmas present dilemma a few years ago. We set a dollar limit and I go out and buy a present FROM him TO me. I wrap it up and put it under the tree. He goes out and buys a present FROM me TO him and does the same. Then, on Christmas morning we both get EXACTLY what we wanted (since we picked them ourselves!) AND we also get a SURPRISE of unwrapping presents. My surprise is to see what I got him and his surprise is to see what he got me.
Hey, it works .
8. Easiest person to buy for?
I agonize over every gift, even ones I'm picking for myself.
9. Do you have a nativity scene?
I have about 25 of them. I've collected them for years. Some of them have been gifts. Some I bought myself. I have some real favorites - like this Orthodox Icon of the Nativity that I picked up on e-bay earlier this year:
I TOTALLY COVET Kelly's nativity ornaments. I'll have to repent.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I mail about 50-70 or so every year. Unfortunately four of the ones I mailed this year have already come back as unable to foreword. Sigh.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
A pair of pants when I was 9 or so. I felt gypped, like my parents were copping out by getting me clothes that I sort of thought they should have provided for me anyway so they wouldn't have to get me a real present. Besides, they were ugly pants.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
When I was younger I really liked How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Frosty the Snowman with Burl Ives.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Haven't started yet. I'll let ya know. We don't buy a lot. Send checks to the kids/grandkids. Used to make ourselves crazy trying to find the perfect gifts, but as the kids have gotten older we've resorted to sending cash and letting them get what they want.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?Yep. Why not? I think regifting makes sense. But ONLY if what I am giving someone is something I think they would appreciate, not just that I want to get rid of it.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
My mother used to make homemade pineapple sherbet. I know a main ingredient was buttermilk. If anyone has a recipe for this PLEASE LET ME KNOW! Also my grandmother always made 5 layer cookies. (graham crackers, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut and Eagle Brand). Totally decadent!
16. Lights on the tree?
When I was growing up we had those lights that look like candles that had some sort of liquid inside that bubbled from top to bottom. I always thought those were cool. But now we just have white lights on our pre lit tree and that's just fine by me.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
ANYTHING but Silent Night. I really don't like Silent Night at all and it plays over and over and over for WEEKS. It's not a bad song...it's just that every time I hear that song I get a mental image of my mother's face dead in her casket and that is not something I choose to dwell on.
My parents both died in December just a few days apart. It has been many years now, but because it was the Christmas season when I was in AZ for the funeral I STILL associate many of the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas with death.
I do, however, really like "What Child Is This?" and "Do You See What I See?"
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
We almost always stay home by ourselves and I try to distract myself enough to keep my funk at bay. However, a really fun tradition that has developed over the last few years is that we drive to Boise around New Years to UNDECORATE my brother's tree. They have a big house so usually have a 20-25 foot tree with LOTS of ornaments. We go visit, eat good food, the guys play music together. We always have a blast together and I get to put all the ornaments away in their little nested boxes. That's really the best part of Christmas for me these days.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Yeah, but why?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
We used to put the angel that came from my husband's childhood but it sort of fell apart this year, (hey, he's 63 so the thing has been around a while!) so we are back to the plastic top piece - not a star really, I sort of think of it as a tree steeple.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
When the kids were home we used to open ONE on Christmas Eve and do the rest in the morning. Now days with just the two of us home there are only a couple under the tree so we do 'em whenever we get up on Christmas.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
My own weird moodiness that I have a difficult time shaking off.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
Our tree has no particular theme - VERY eclectic. After all, how many people have a pink paper fish on their Christmas tree? We have a nice mix of home made and store bought, brand new and very old. There's a macaroni angel and something made out of glue and yarn from my oldest son when he was in elementary school. There are some made out of wheat, crochet, felt, you name it. I like the mix.
I do NOT accept blue as a Christmas color.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Sleep. Laughter. Peace. To feel more present to the precious connections in my life rather than being haunted by the loss. To finally get my home office organized.
So there's my take on Christmas. How about you?