1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Both. But mostly wrapping paper.
2. Real tree or Artificial?
Last year we had a real tree for the first time in years. I got a rash putting it up, and was totally stuffed up when I was in the room with it. This year we're back to artificial, and plan to stay that way.
3. When do you put up the tree?
As soon as possible after Thanksgiving.
This year that was yesterday, which was Monday.
4. When do you take the tree down?
Umm, sometime after Christmas. It sort of falls into the category of "when we get around to it."
5. Do you like eggnog?
The kids love Silk Nog. I'll drink a little, but it's not really my big thing.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Oh, there were so many cool presents! None really stand out in my mind as "favorite".
7. Hardest person to buy for?
Pretty much everyone. I don't like shopping. I especially don't like shopping for other people. Especially when there are expectations attached, like that I'm somehow demonstrating my love for them via the item I purchase. That seems so twisted to me, and I get all cranky then and don't want to buy anything.
8. Easiest person to buy for?
My parents. They don't want presents, so we donate to one of their favorite charities. Then we get them something small in one of the following categories: food, clothing, or homemade.
9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Multiple! AnnaBeth is so excited when we get out the Main Set, which is Fontanini. It's like a set of dolls that we only play with at Christmas.
Then we have a set that we put up bit by bit while reading daily stories from a book, The Light in the Lantern by Georg Dreissig. And another Celtic set that Aunt Donna gave us. And a little plastic set from when AnnaBeth was quite little and Thalia didn't want her messing with the Fontanini ... but we don't use that one much anymore.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. And the cards are handmade. And the notes inside are hand written, personal notes to that specific individual or family.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
As an adult or a child? When I was little I apparently burst into tears when my grandma gave me clothing for Christmas, much to the embarrassment of my mother. When I was an adult I got a knick knack that still had a "Happy Birthday to ..." card in the box; the card was addressed to the person who gave me the gift.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
When I notice things that seem appropriate, which might be in January, and might be Dec. 24th.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
No. Unless you count giving them to the Goodwill.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
The butter cookies we make on Christmas Eve.
16. What decorations are on your tree?
Homemade, ornaments people have given us, interesting things we've found through the years ...
and this year we seem to have added a black cat.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
Wow, I know dozens and dozens, and sing them all. I especially like things in minor keys, like Lully Lullay Thou Little Tiny Child or Pat-a-pat-a-pan.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
Travel on a non-Christmas weekend, stay home on Christmas. The kids insist that we are home all day and they wear their jammies all day.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
No. It's not something I've ever felt a need to know.
20. Angel on top of tree or star?
Currently nothing. The angel fell off. We used to use a bird. We need to come up with something else. Or not. Maybe the cat will make it up that high.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Both. Aunts and uncles on Christmas Eve, Santa and family Christmas morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
People who expect you to do anything other than Get Ready For Christmas. People who do things like Algebra and Latin in December are overachievers.
23. What theme or color are you using when you decorate?
Our theme is Stuff We Like. Overall, I think themed Christmases are devoid of personality and fairly silly.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Something that involves poultry that we can leave on the table while we go play with presents ... then come back later and realize that much of the poultry is gone and the cats don't seem to care if we feed them. Not that things like that ever happen around here.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
So many people are without homes, and I'm concerned that the problem is going to get worse in the coming months. I'd love to have a way to give them all food, shelter, and a sense of belonging.
When we were in Columbus this weekend I kept thinking about how we were all spending thousands of dollars on dresses, wigs, and makeup for our kids at the Oireachtas while there were other children in that very city who don't even have a home to live in; I really question our priorities regarding that. I'd rather have our kids compete at Oireachtas in t-shirts and shorts, and donate the money saved to feed the children in the hosting city. Wouldn't that be cool?