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A Christmas Questionnaire

Thanks to Keith at Nostalgic Italian, who gave me this idea with a post he did recently. A look at our Christmas preferences and traditions, feel free to comment or make your own list!

  1. 24th or 25th? I always liked celebrating Christmas on Christmas, the 25th. That’s what we did when I was growing up. Seems nice to be able to sleep in, get up, get around to opening presents and such at our leisure on the day itself, followed by a nice meal. When I was single but grown, I’d sometimes go to church with friends on the Eve – the candlelit services are quite touching and spectacular looking – , other times watch Christmas movies, sometimes at home, sometimes with one of my parents. Nowadays though we have our big celebration on the evening of the 24th, a meal with opening of the majority of the gifts, sometimes a game or bingo or something like that. Now that I’m in a big, extended family, it makes some sense, as relatives have grown kids who have spouses or significant others and often they’ll need to find time to spend time with those families. Getting together on Christmas Eve seems to work. And having a quieter 25th to reflect, eat and maybe play with the gifts isn’t a bad deal either.

  1. Real or Fake? Trees that is – get your minds out of the gutter! I, and others in my family both as a child and now with my wife and her family, have allergies. Pine is one of them, so we always had a fake tree as a kid. It’s a tradition I’ve kept and we have here too. Real trees seem a lot of work, a fire hazard and at times prone to looking mediocre rather soon. Plus, not that budget friendly… spend $100 on a store tree and it’ll last years and years. Spend $50 on a real one and you’ll spend $50 more next year and so on. Fake trees these days can look fantastic and quite realistic.

  1. White or Green? Everyone loves singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, but do they really dream of one? Well some do, but not me. Of course, context probably matters. I grew up in Canada, and even though I was in the southern part of that land, white Christmases were the norm. If the snow had fallen on the 24th or on Christmas itself, it could look pretty, but it made getting around to visit treacherous. If it was from days before, it tends to look pretty ugly really… pristine white snow doesn’t stay pristine or white for long in a big city. And I’m not fond of being cold. Now I’m in Texas and the average high on Christmas is 60 degrees, 15 Celcius. I love it. I can go outside and enjoy it in a hoodie or light jacket rather than layers of clothes and gloves. But most of the locals do dream of a white Christmas, because real snow is so rare here.

  1. Colored Lights or White Ones? To me, Christmas lights are a rainbow of colors. Red and green primarily, but you need some blue and yellow, maybe pink or orange added in too. It looks festive! But I find more and more I’m in the minority because most people I know like the uniform white ones. It’s not the same, but they can still look very nice on a tree or around a house.

  1. Eggnog or Hot chocolate? See above on allergies! I can’t eat eggs, so the nog is a no-go for me, but even if I could, somehow I don’t think I’d like it. Something about its look, smell and consistency just seems quite unpleasant to me. Hot chocolate I like now and again, with a few little marshmallows in it. So it would win that battle easily for me, though a nice winter ale followed by a good blend of coffee still top my Christmas Eve drink list.

  1. Turkey or ham? Both are quite nice, but ham is my pick. Growing up, it was usually turkey. My Mom, God love her, tried. She wasn’t a big cook, but she’d make some dinners and she always went all out on the Christmas one. But the turkey was almost always dry. She’d get up early in the morn to put it in the oven, and we’d eat at 5 or 6PM. More recently, I’ve found turkeys don’t need about 12 hours of cooking! Green bean casserole is one Southern specialty that I’ve really come to enjoy as a sidedish. Keith, whom I mentioned gave me this column idea, says it’s ravioli for him. Nothing wrong with that… eat whatever food you really enjoy on the special day.

  1. Gift cards or Gifts? On my most recent birthday, someone gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card. I love books, so I made use of it but I actually did something unusual – I splurged on a couple of things I’d normally not buy. It was an over-priced, but thoroughly interesting “magazine” documenting the entire career of Roxy Music, a band I’ve always liked, and a novel I’d never heard of but looked like it might be interesting. So it was sort of like an unexpected gift, if you will. That said, I’m not a big fan of gift cards for gifts. It’s not that they’re bad in themselves, I just find too many people give them with no thought . I prefer to give and get things that show the giver really was thinking about the person getting it and what they might really like.

  1. Christmas Story or Home Alone? A no-brainer to me, A Christmas Story. It makes me laugh every time from the “fraj-eel-ee” leg lamp to the pink bunny pjs to the villainous store Santa. Home Alone just seems mean-spirited to me and I’m sorry, but something about that Culkin lad just irritates me just looking at him. But better still…

  1. The Grinch or Charlie Brown? I’d give Charlie a tiny edge but my answer is “both”. Both were part of my childhood routines and two things I try to see each and every Christmas season still. I love both, for their stories and even their rather simplistic animation. Linus telling everyone what Christmas is really about and the tree springing to life when they gather around and sing. The Grinch’s heart growing three sizes and little Max wagging his tail at the Christmas table with the tiny Who butlers taking successively smaller trays to the kids. How can they not make you smile and appreciate the magic of the season? Point of order by the way – always the animated Grinch over the overly-long and needlessly explanatory live action remake.

  1. At home or clocking in? Most of us enjoy having the day off (with pay no less! Few think Scrooge hard done by for having his pocket picked every 25th of December, LOL). I know I always did and usually have the luxury of being at home with my family which is great. But on at least two occasions I volunteered to work on the 25th when I was single. It was when I was working as a department head in a large drug store which stayed open due to the pharmacy and other necessities it sold. I figured someone had to do it, so I might as well, get some overtime pay and let the married types with kids have the day off to enjoy. I found most people coming in the doors were in good moods, and the mood was pretty relaxed among us staff. I wouldn’t want to do it again, but it did heighten my already existing appreciation for those who have to work on Christmas – police, fire fighters, hospital nurses and staff, even the radio DJs and TV techs who make sure A Christmas Story or Home Alone are airing for the rest of us to enjoy. Keep all those types in your thoughts on this Christmas, and give them a nice word at least should you see any of them.

That’s some of my thoughts, would love to hear yours! One more thought – no matter what Christmas means to you , or even if Hanukkah or something else is your special time at this end of the calendar, I wish you a happy and healthy one and thank you for reading.