Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I saw this on Widney Woman's blog and loved it. If you end up doing this, too, please let me know - I love reading about others' traditions!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
This year, a lot of cookie tins, as I'm making cookies as a major part of my family gifts. We usually do a mix of all kinds of wrapping, though.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Neither. Given our mixed background (Jewish/Christian/Secular) our decorating usually runs to roping or a wreath that we decorate:

3. When do you put up the tree decorations?
The weekend after Thanksgiving. And we always have hot chocolate and homemade cookies of some sort. And a fire.

4. When do you take the tree down?
When pine needles start being a danger to the guinea pigs (they are poisonous to piggies).

5. Do you like eggnog?
Adore it. Especially Calder's Eggnog. The guy at Plum Market described it as crack cocaine, and I think he's right. Calder and a shot of rum and I am absolutely in the holiday spirit!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Lite Brite. And interestingly enough, my first professional career was as a lighting designer for theater. Coincidence? I think not.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
No one, because I truly, truly hate to shop. Easiest person to find gifts for? Maybe C, because he's not fussy.

9. Do You have a nativity scene?
No. We do have assorted Christmas settings, decorations from our exchange students, though, such as Swedish Star Child and Lucia candle holders and one of those things that whirl around when you light candles. Oh... and our favorite - a beautiful Santa hand-carved by our German daughter's mother, Margareta.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Um... depends. This year, I'm not sure. We usually send AFTER Christmas, though, and do more of New Year's greetings.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

Um... sorry, D, but it was that shoe bag you gave me for our first Christmas together.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

Probably Scrooged. And the original Miracle on 34th Street.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Whenever I see something that will work for someone for Christmas.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

In a sense, but I haven't regifted specifically.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Mince Pie!

16. Lights on the tree?

We've done New Year's lights instead - pigs and chili peppers (don't ask).

17. Favorite Christmas song?

This is truly impossible for me to answer. I am a REAL Christmas music fanatic. I may have more Christmas music than any other category. There are so many that I love. Particular favorites right now are "Mistletoe" by Colbie Caillat, "Winter Song" by Sarah McLachlan, "Angels We Have Heard On High" by the Roches.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?

Usually we get to travel to my wonderful, fabulous, lovely sister- and brother-in-law! We're going there this year and we can't wait!!!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?

Dasher, Dancer, Donner, Blitzen, .... um... no.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?

Growing up we always had a star and a dove.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Both. We do a gag gift exchange, which is great fun and has a lot of rules, at my SIL's house on Christmas Eve. We usually open family presents with my BIL, SIL and nephew on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Shopping, shopping and shopping. And people getting stressed out when the holidays should be about love and reflection.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?

Love those pickle ornaments! (Just the one you hide, though).

24. Favorite Christmas dinner?

Roast beef, yorkshire pudding, steamed green beans, squash pudding and mince pie.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

Baking, from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan


Anonymous said...

A hide the pickle ornament? Wow, that sounds dirty. ;)

I think I might have to do this meme.

Anonymous said...

Loved your answer to #14. haha

Jen said...

CG, I *believe* it's a Polish tradition and I forget when I learned about it, but the pickle ornament would be hidden in the tree, and then whichever child found it would get an extra gift. We then found one and we have fun hiding it, even though we don't do the extra gift thing.

Maryann, I actually wasn't being duplicitous - if I've gotten something I can't use I tend to give it to someone else, but not wrapped as a gift, it's more like, "Can you use such and such, because I received it and really can't use it." But yeah, I could have been being sneaky, too. ;-)

painted maypole said...

this was fun

my SIL gave us a Roches Xmas album that I love

Momisodes said...

I just love reading how people celebrate the holidays.

I ALWAYS wanted a Lite Brite! My mom never bought me one because she was sure it would burn down the house (because I would undoubtedly leave it on all night long).

I've heard wonderful things about mince pie. Will you be posting a recipe here soon?

Grimm said...

Whoa, you got Dasher, Dancer, Donner, and Blitzen but not Rudolph?

And you claim to be a real Christmas music fanatic?

(wink wink)

Jen said...

PM, it was definitely fun. The We Three Kings album? That's one of my all-time faves!

Momisodes - I don't make the mince itself - I cheat and buy it! I get the vegetarian kind. This year, I had mincemeat pinwheels - it's Marye Audet's recipe from Baking Delights and I'll be posting a link to it when I do my cookie round-up tomorrow.

Grimm... smirk... Rudolf is NOT one of the originals. ;-) I was going through the list in my head and got stuck with Blitzen.

Unknown said...

I'm with you on the mince pie! Have a wonderful holiday!

Flower Child said...

ugh. mince pie. All sounds good. We have a bit of a hybrid holiday as well - which I think is more effective at bringing us back to the point of the whole thing and keeping us from falling off into the commercial abyss. Happy holidays!


Thanks for playing!! Your Christmas dinner is far fancier than any I've had!!

Jen said...

Greg - Another mince fan! Yay! And have a lovely holiday yourself.

FC - it's either a love or hate thing with mince. And I agree that doing the mixed traditions thing helps keep it from being too crazed.

Widney - that's what I'd LIKE, not what I eat, lol. When I was very young we went to my uncle's house and he always did a killer roast beef. I have made yorkshire pudding and I always make the squash pudding, which I think I've posted. We never have a "usual" dinner because our Christmas Eve dinner at my SIL's is always a mishmash of three different families. Highlights from last year included lemon meringue pie and delicious ham.

April said...

If you don't get that book, please tell me. I'd love to get it for you!

Jen said...

April, that is beyond sweet! I think I'm set for it, though. ;-) (It's the only thing I asked for, and we tend to be fairly up front that way).

Becca said...

I loved reading your answers! I remember LiteBrite, but I found it incredibly tedious. My son loved it, however. Go figure.

Jen said...

I think LiteBrite is either fascinating... or, as you said, tedious!

anno said...

That hide-the-pickle ornament caught my attention, too. I am totally with you on #10 and 22 -- really, people should spend the holidays just being with the people they care about, preferably in fun new places like a great Cuban cafe.

If you don't get your heart's desire for Christmas, let me know, and I'll make sure you get a copy of your own. Plus, I'll make sure that D. never hears the end of it!

Keri Mikulski said...

Love this one. :) I miss Lite Brite. :) Remember the commercial? Lite Brite, Lite Brite.. Now it's going to be in my head. :)

Goofball said...

that's an interesting list . I don't understand the pickle ornaments though

Jen said...

Anno - thanks! I agree that Cuban cafe time spent with ones you care about should be on EVERYONE'S Christmas list. And Apricot Orange bread. ;-) And believe me, D won't hear the end of it, either, so I think I'm okay.

Keri... yup... got the earworm now! I just loved that toy, though.

Goofball - the tradition was that parents hid the pickle as the last ornament after the children went to bed. Whoever found the pickle in the morning got an extra present.

Alex Elliot said...

I love the the wreath tradition! Sounds like you really enjoy the holidays for what they're meant to be.

I have never had mince pie before. One of these years I really need to try it.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I hear you on the Lite Brite!!

Okay off to play some Christmas music.

Jen said...

Alex - it's an acquired taste, but I've always loved it. If you like spiced fruit stuff, then you'll like it, probably.

NYC, I've had the music going non-stop. ;-) And yes, Lite Brite was great. Sigh.

soccer mom in denial said...

I do hope someone reads that last one and gets you the book for Christmas!

We have a few nativity type things but they are all from other countries.

The current favorite song in the family is I think a Bow Wow Wow (or at least the female vocalist's voice) singing "Merry Christmas".

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

These are such nice traditions! I seriously need a pickle ornament! I'll get on that.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

I did this in an email forward, and since I just found it in my trash (but it's clean I swear!), I'll post it here. Some questions may be different though; I didn't look *too* closely:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both, of course.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial in Italy but was always real in America.

3. When do you put up the tree? December 8.

4. When do you take the tree down? Anytime after January 6.

5. Do you like eggnog? i haven't had it in forever, but I used to like one glass a year. That was plenty.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? An afghan my mom made for me.

7 . Hardest person to buy for? This year, my nephew...what does a 12-year-old boy like/do that his aunt can afford?!

8. Easiest person to buy for? Mom, hands down.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? I had one in the US but haven't shipped it over yet--was a Precious Moments set and *precious* if I do say so myself.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Getting too expensive to mail so I've started emailing. Boo.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Can't think of anything. I love gifts :)

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? ELF!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever I see something someone would like (and then I often give it to them before Christmas).

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so, but I may have passed along something to someone else informally, i.e., not as a gift per se.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mom's cookies.

16. Lights on the tree? Duh. Like the color? White but I'm not married to the idea.

17. Favorite Christmas songs? Sleigh Ride, Silent Night, Ave Maria.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Been staying at home, and I actually rather love it. Wish my family would come here!

19. Favorite Christmas gift? Books. Can't go wrong giving me books.

20. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? I think everyone can because of the beginning of Rudolph. That's a yes.

21. Angel on the tree top or a star? Heart and bow :)

22. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Grew up opening one on Christmas Eve the rest the next morning. With P we usually do them after midnight on Christmas Eve. If we're awake! .

23. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? How expensive everything is even when you try to keep it simple. Bah humbug!

24. Favorite ornament theme or color? I do a red and gold theme right now but my favorite ornament is probably a silver Hallmark heart my mom gave us last year.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Mam Mam's ravioli. *le sigh*

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? An iPhone, sort of. OK at least a cell phone that works and isn't the size of my open hand (mine died and I'm using an *old* one of Paolo' his original one!).

26. Who would you most like to have respond to this? Everyone, of course.

27. Favorite tradition? Growing up was Christmas Eve at my grandparents' after church. Now it's Christmas Eve dinner with Paolo. YUM!

Jen said...

SMID - I think I'm set for the book. It's so funny, because I was just remarking to C, that I was so happy that we hadn't heard the barking song much this year!

Brittany - it sounds like it would be a great tradition for you!

Michelle - thanks so much for playing along - I loved reading your answers!

Ben said...

LOL pigs and chilli peppers lights? Hehe. I don't have many xmas traditions since I just started "celebrating" it a couple of years ago. But what I've found out is that more of what it is considered Christmas stuff is just recycled from older religions. And I love that :)

Happy Holidays my friend!

Heather said...

I loved reading your answers to this. We don't do much at our house, since we're not religious, but I guess bouquets of eucalyptus and bayberry candles are kind of festive. Love the garland instead of the tree.

Elizabeth said...

Lovely to get insight into your Christmas world.
However you should take your tree/garlands down on Dec 6th -when the befana(Italian witch/old lady) comes to bring gifts fro the children.
or else the 'bad fairies' will come.
Whoever make this stuff up?
Just enjoy I say!

Jen said...

Ben, what did you celebrate? I'd love to hear about your traditions.

Heather, we're not really religious, either... wait 'til you see my next post. I grew up with a hodgepodge.

Elizabeth - Dec. 6th or Jan. 6th? Wouldn't it be Jan. 6th? I love legends like the one about the Befana and the bad fairies! I'll be sure to have everything down in time.

Maggie said...

Great read! I posted mine here.

Luisa Perkins said...

I loved reading about your traditions!

Jen said...

Maggie - I'm heading over there momentarily - glad you posted!

Luisa, I'd love to hear about yours some time, too!

LisAway said...

A shoe bag? That really is BAD.

I've never heard of the pickle thing (I'm in Poland) but my husband sure enjoyed his pig's feet jelly on Christmas morning. With a little vinegar sprinkled on top. Oh, heaven. (Nast-y)

w said...

I also love eggnogg :) I didn't know about it but we have an American friend here who prepared it and I fell in love with this drink :)