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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Meme

My first set of wheels

How cool. Esther tagged me. And Angela Messen-
ger indirectly tagged me too. Gotta play.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? When I was younger, wrapping paper. Gift bags didn't "exist" then. Now that I'm older, lazier, and never could wrap something decently to save my soul anyway: gift bags. It doesn't have zip to do with saving the planet by recycling. I've been known to wrap gifts in Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil. My bestest friends "understand." If' it's "really important" I've been known to have someone that doesn't have two left thumbs wrap it.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real or nada.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually been a late putter upper, from way back. The earliest would be a week before ... BUT there are times when it's only the night before or two days before. Right after college I got my first apartment in San Diego. My mom and dad were living in Oregon at the time and they came down to visit me the day before Christmas. I'd "waited" so we could put it up together. Christmas Eve about 9 p.m. my mom and I went down to a place near the Sports Arena, where they had a few scraggly trees left. The guy deadpanned and said: "Looking for something special?" We died laughing. Ever afterwards that's what we always said when going out to get the tree.

4. When do you take the tree down? Some times it stays up until right after Jan 6. sometimes, depending how dry it get, and then factoring in the trash schedule, it may go sooner.

5. Do you like eggnog? Adore it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? For Christmas: Probably the pair of skis I received when I was 13. Best gift of all time was not at Christmas and completely unexpected. It was an encyclopedia set called "Our Wonderful World." 24 volumes. And I read them cover to cover. Except for volume 14. Which had some articles on spiders. With pictures. Of. BIG. ones. That volume is still pristine. If there's something I don't know about, it was probably covered in volume 14. I got this set when I was nine. Mom had bought it from a door to door salesman. The articles were from a variety of sources, magazines, books etc. and were arranged topically. It was aimed at about a high school reading level, which I had then, or quickly picked up. For instance -- say you looked up, oh, "Greek theater" - you got that...and next articles might be on Greek literature, history etc. etc. Then ... hey, Roman stuff.... etc. It also came with a 10 volume set of books that could be used by about aged 8 to about 18. There was a book on art/music -- a lot of famous paintings with an article about the painting/art work and the artist. I could recognize and tell you, for instance, why Gainsborough's Blue Boy was famous, what techniques were used, why the painting was done and so forth. Other volumes had "fun activities for kids" anything from basic star gazing to making a bird house. Others had biographies of famous people, written in a way captivating to the young. I had them about the year Churchill had died, because I remember reading about him in one of those books about then. I don't think they make this set of books anymore. Pity. For me, at a young age, it had it all over encyclopedias that just stayed on the shelf and never got read. It was probably the beginning of me being more or less an autodidact. I picked up a tremendous amount of general knowledge from these books. I'd like to meet and kiss the salesman who sold them, because he changed my life.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes, my favorite figures were bought when I was about 9 or 10 when we lived in Virginia. We were in someplace that sold fairly inexpensive things (a Woolworths for all I can remember) and the figures were nicely molded and brightly, but beautifully painted. HOW we wished we had bought more than just the few basics. We had an angel, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Crib, Camel, Shepard and a sheep....but wish we'd gotten the who shebang. We NEVER ran across any we liked as much. The figures I see now are all either such muted tones or badly made, unless they're really expensive. *sigh* No. They don't make 'em like they used to.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Dad was always the hardest. All dads are fabulous actors. Especially when their kids are little. You'd get a something really cool and dad would get stuck with a can of his favorite Simonized wax. [Well....not that bad, but I bet dads will know what I mean.]

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I believe it was the butt ugly doll (I'm pretty sure I received it for Christmas) I'm seen running over with my tricycle which I posted about previously. She had it coming. Trust me. That dame is on the far right here. No jury would convict.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Both. There was a year or two I hand watercolored some and sent to friends/family.

11. Favorite Christmas Movie? I HAVE to watch Holiday Inn. Next favorite is a toss up between A Christmas Story and Meet Me in St. Louis. Meet Me in St. Louis contains one of only two songs that are guaranteed to make me cry my behind off. "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The reason it makes me cry is because when I was young, we moved quite a bit with my dad's job transfers. I really did come to like something about every place we lived in and was always able to make friends easily - but oh, how the moment of parting friends ripped me up inside. Today's kids who have access to things like instant email and the ability to send photos don't know what it was like to have to correspond sporadically. What a blessing it would have been to get a photo, a letter, etc. "just like that." A phone call was a rare treat. Anyway, the song rips me up because in it, the dad announced he was moving the family from St. Louis. The young Margaret O'Brien has just whacked the HELL out of all her snowmen, and says that they'll never have friends like in St. Louis etc. Judy Garland sings the song to comfort her. There's somewhere deep within me where that took a toll. The other song? Stars and Stripes Forever. I'm a wreck on 4th of July if I'm in a crowd and they play that - the part where the piccolo comes in kills me. And last night at the vigil for the Immaculate Conception I choked up on the refrain to Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above. I've been missing my mother terribly and it reminded me of all those rosaries and holy hours and stations and benedictions we used to go to when I was growing up. We went almost every week. It blind sided me. So I guess that makes three song, though whether or not there will be a repeat performance of crying I can't say.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? About 2nd week December.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Nope. Not even the crap exchanged at office Christmas parties.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Homemade mushroom soup. Tollhouse cookies. Fudge. Homemade.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored. And if you have a dog -- NO TINSEL.

16. Favorite Christmas song? Angels We Have Heard on High - let 'er RIP on the Gloria.... Secular: Sleigh ride (preferably rendered by the Boston Pops.) (I may be stoned for saying this - but I've never liked Silent Night. Ever. -- Angela may kill me.)

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Almost always home.

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeers? Yes, and the 7 Dwarfs, should it come to that.

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Always after Mass, from an early age. When I was little I'd be allowed to open one SMALL one Christmas eve...usually some mittens or something to wear to Mass the next day.....

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Crowds at the mall, which I try and avoid. I try and do most of what little shopping I have to do on-line.

22. Best thing about this time of year? Other than the birth of the baby Jesus, that people try to be nicer. ( I agree with Esther.)

I tag Adrienne, Mulier-Fortis, On the Side of the Angels, White Stone Name Seeker, Digihairshirt, and if those blogless guys Stephen F. and Dr. Peter H. Wright (if he's still speaking to me!) can feel free to do the meme in my com box. And if I didn't tag ya, it's because you've already done it, or I wanted to leave somebody for those other folks to tag.


Mulier Fortis said...

Wow, Karen... when you decide to do a meme, you really mean business! Ok, I'm done here!

EC Gefroh said...

What a cutie! Yum! Homemade mushroom soup!

Adrienne said...

I've already done this one but.............just because I love you I'm going to do it again and this time on my blog.

But first, I need to go to church and try and teach the kids about truth. The old "what's true for you is not true for me nonsense." This year the group is pretty smart so it shouldn't be too huge a battle.

What is true is - if they get their doughnuts they are much more receptive. So grocery store first:)

The Digital Hairshirt said...

Okey-doke, Karen, you can read my answers over at my blog.

I gotta go now and get ready for my weekend "date" with that lover boy, Dante the Time-Share Schnauzer.

swissmiss said...

My brother had a red mustang peddle car (which would be worth some money today), but I didn't get one. Your fire engine looked cool.

I used to love mushrooms. As a child, my mom would give me mushrooms as a treat (instead of chocolate since I LOVED mushrooms). Now I can't stand the taste at all. Must've overdosed on them years ago or something.

gemoftheocean said...

Yeah, the fire engine was quite cool...I loved the bell on the thing. All metal, of course, as such things were.

Anonymous said...

11. JINGLE HELL, anyone?!?

gemoftheocean said...

#11 -- If it stars Jimmy Brennan and Lisa Gunn you bet your bippy!!

Stephen said...

OK, here goes.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Wrapping paper. Always. Apart from for bottles.

2. Real tree or artificial?

Real. If I dared buy a fake tree I'd probably be struck down by a thunderbolt sent by my Dad from beyond the grave.

3. When do you put up the tree?

Historically, in our family it went up in the evening on December 10th, because the 11th is my brother's birthday. If I'm travelling back to the UK for Christmas I tend not to bother with a tree myself; this year I'm over here anyway, but I haven't got round to it yet. Friday, maybe.

4. When do you take the tree down?

Twelfth Night

5. Do you like eggnog.

God, no. It's ghastly.

6. Favourite gift received as a child?

A record player, when I was 11.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene?


8. Hardest person to buy for?

This year, my grandmother (she's in a home and doesn't have much space to put things, and she's had some digestive problems recently which means that I can't use any of my old fallbacks this year, because they mostly involve chocolate, which she can't have right now).

Historically, my Dad was an absolute pain in the bum to buy Christmas presents for, because when he wanted anything he went out and bought it himself.

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

A package of socks bearing the legend 'With Anti-Bacterial Coating For Fresher Feet' (on the package, not on the socks). And I've received some fairly horrible sweaters from my grandmother in my time - you know, the sort of thing you wear *once*, when visiting her, then cut up for dusters.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Mail if I can get my arse in gear, email if I can't. I'm not good at Christmas cards.

11. Favourite Christmas movie?

"It's a Wonderful Life"

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

If I'm in Canada and not coming home, then late October, because it all has to go in the mail to the UK by early November. If I'm coming home from Canada, usually sometime in the week before I fly back. If I'm in the UK, about the second week in December (I just started this past weekend).

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

No. I have, however, recycled gifts my mother has bought for other people and then forgotten about (she buys stuff throughout the year to give people for Christmas, then puts it away and forgets about it. It is not unknown for me to buy some of those things off her to give people myself).

Stephen said...

Part deux:

14. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?

These frangipan tarts my late grandmother used to make. We still have them at Christmas; my mother or my aunt or I make them, the last ones my grandmother made having been consumed seven years ago at her funeral, which she catered herself. They're not a traditional Christmas food, apart from in our family.

Also, Toblerone. We always seem to get a Toblerone at Christmas. I like it - *once* a year.

15. Clear lights or coloured on the tree?

Coloured, the better to set off my Dad's collection of slightly off-colour Christmas tree ornaments (like the one known throughout the family as the Crapping Dog).

16. Favourite Christmas song?

Traditional Christmas carols. I tend to loathe Christmassy pop songs. I could cheerfully set fire to every last copy of "All I Want for Christmas Is You", and that's hardly the worst of the bunch. The worst things about Christmas in the UK are Slade and Roy Wood.

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Travel - often from Canada to the UK, and more or less always from wherever I'm living to my aunt's. In 35 years I've only spent three Christmases at my mother's house, and I think there have only been three Christmases when I didn't go home at all.

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


19. Angel on the tree or a star?

Angel. Usually with a red light strategically positioned up her skirt (see the bit about off-colour Christmas tree ornaments).

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Christmas Day, certainly. Precisely when depends on who's showing up, and at what time. It's not unknown for us to wait until early evening to let the whole family assemble from various in-laws before we open presents. And they have to be proper presents. Gift certificates are verboten in our house.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

Crowds in the shops, cheesy Christmas singles blaring from every radio.

22. Best thing about this time of year?

Other than the obvious... Christmas sandwiches at Pret-a-Manger. Don't knock it until you've tried one.

gemoftheocean said...

Stephen, I love it! This kills me:
"A package of socks bearing the legend 'With Anti-Bacterial Coating For Fresher Feet' (on the package, not on the socks). "

That's sounds like the Adrian Mole Diaries! I think the barmy aunt and uncle visited the Moles one year and gave him a pair of socks if I'm not mistaken.

Stephen said...

Those socks were my absolute Christmas present nadir. Such a charming message - "Happy Christmas, your feet stink." In my Grandmother's defence, I think all of the multipacks of socks in Marks and Spencers now carry that label (I just bought some myself the other day).

You didn't have a worst Christmas food category, IIRC, so I couldn't get into my absolute loathing of Christmas Pudding, a vile substance which is probably best used as ballast. And it's sort of un-Christian, but I have to say that one of the worst things about this time of year is having to see and be nice to some of my more radioactive relatives...

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