Ami tagged me and everyone else she knows online for this fun little questionnaire, and seeing as how I find myself in sudden need of some holiday cheer after the fiasco of last week’s car crash, I figured I’d give it a whirl. Here goes: What you all are DYING to know about our RegularChristmas.
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I always use wrapping paper at Christmas. And I was raised to be a complete CONTROL FREAK about how I wrap gifts. Essentially, the wrapping itself: the precision, the time, the INVISIBLE TAPE, the special curl to each and every ribbon, it’s all part of the gift from me. So, last year, when my mother-in-law took it upon herself to wrap all my gifts because it just wasn’t done in a timely enough fashion to suit her taste, it just about KILLED me. Which, now that I think about it, might actually BE A GOAL OF HERS. Hmmm…. Note to self: Wrap mother-in-law’s gift with wrapping paper laced with itching powder. With extra beautifully curled ribbons.
2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real. Years ago, I decided that it was wrong to cut down trees every year just because we decided it was festive. I went out to Target and bought an artificial tree, and spent a good hour wrestling with it. What a freekin’ nightmare. After all the pieces were connected, I had to individually separate and tweek each bough to make it look somewhat like a tree. RegularDad was horrified that I’d gone ARTIFICIAL on him and watched with enormous amusement while I struggled with that fake tree for quite some time before taking pity on me and helping. What I learned from that experience is that if I use a fake tree, it doesn’t bring in that fresh pine scent that says HEY DUDES! IT’S CHRISTMAS! EXCELLENT! I learned that having to shape each individual fake bough SUCKS because it takes forever and scratches the hell out of your hands. And most important, I learned that getting a real tree means that RegularDad is in charge of assembling the tree. Also, it’s a lot more fun to take the kids out someplace to pick out a tree than it is to drag them up to a dusty attic and make them stand miserably in a cobwebby corner while you drag a large box of fake tree to the stairwell and shove it down the stairs, cursing and moaning about your sore back the whole time. So… what was the question? Oh, right. We get a real tree.
3. When do you put up the tree?
We don’t have a set time. We definitely don’t do the Thanksgiving thing. That’s just too early for me. It takes every ounce of me to get a turkey and all the trimmings on the table on that day. If someone were to add Decorating A Live Tree to my schedule on that day, my head would probably explode. This year, we put up our tree on the first weekend in December because that was the only day RegularDad could do it. He’s got a hectic work schedule right now. It’s nice to have it up so early, though. I may do that again.
4. When do you take the tree down?
The past two years, we had to take our tree down the day after Christmas because we were moving to a new house within a week after the New Year. So Christmas was rushed. The minute the gifts were opened, I was already secretly putting ornaments away. By the 27th, I was all: Okay! Let’s pack it up, people!!! Let’s get this train ROLLING! And the kids would be all: But Mom! I haven’t even gotten to play with that yet! And I was all: Don’t care! We’re moving! Put it in the BOX!!!! So, this year, since we’re finally NOT MOVING right after Christmas, I’m looking forward to not rushing the end of the season. I may leave the tree up till Memorial Day, for all I care. Because I CAN.
5. Do you like eggnog?
BLEAH! What FOOL invented that little nightmare of a recipe???? RegularDad loves it, though. So, I try to remember to pick up a quart of it. And then I try to remember to not kiss him after he’s had some. BLEAH!!!!!!
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
There were a few Christmases I remember as a kid, where I’d been Just Dying for something and it came! Baby Alive was one memorable gift. I jumped for joy when I opened the box and saw her there in all her diapered glory. Within a week, though, I was exhausted and horrified by that toy. The WORK! The MESS! What had I been thinking?!? The commercial made it sound so IDYLLIC and life-like, but really, it was just GROSS. Now, with my awesome powers of RETROSPECT, I firmly believe that if they could tweek that toy to include a lot of endless colic and somehow work in an upgrade that would include projectile vomiting — the kind that always finds its way down your shirt — they’d go a long way to solving our nation’s teen pregnancy problem. It’s just a thought.
7. Hardest person to buy for?
My step-mother-in-law. Really. What gift says: Hey, glad you survived that transplant surgery! Congrats on the new heart and lungs! We really weren’t sure you’d make it. New skis? I’d buy her a book, but I’ve done that for the past three years, and I don’t think she reads them. She doesn’t own any books, and the only magazines I see at her place are the National Enquirer and Star. Seriously.
8. Easiest person to buy for?
My nieces and nephews. They’re so little, still, that anything you get them, even if they already have two of whatever it is, is still cool.
9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. I bought it a couple years ago, for 50% off. It’s porcelain, so I spent a lot of time in our Very Rushed Christmases telling the girls to stop making the angel fly around. It’s one of my favorite things to put out at Christmas, especially because this year I decided I don’t care if one of the figures breaks. That’s why God invented glue.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I used to buy Christmas cards and then never get around to sending them, and then feel guilty for not sending them. They’d always be the first thing I’d see when I opened all the boxes of Christmas stuff the next year. So I’d start the seaons with CHRISTMAS CARD GUILT. Then I got over it, especially considering the price of stamps these days. I don’t even do Christmas e-cards. And I’ve let go of the guilt. The way I see it, I moved 2,000 miles across the country just so that the family could SEE us at Christmas. Do they really need a card, too?
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Nothing major comes to mind, so I guess I’ve been pretty lucky. I do remember one year, when the kids were babies still, it seemed like everyone on RegularDad’s side of the family got me really ugly sweatpants for Christmas. It was really depressing.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
The Year Without A Santa Claus. I’ve always loved the Heat Miser.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Whenever I think to. I don’t shop on Black Friday. Early in December, if I’m out and about and I see something that I know someone would like, I grab it. Mid-month I do a big toy run, and a big book run. And then I rush around all hectic for those little things that I always forget until the last minute.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
We have one that we’ve been trying to recycle for about 7 years now, and I still have it somewhere. It’s a copy of “Scene It”, given to us by RegularDad’s brother and his (soon to be ex) wife. We never played it, never opened it. My 8-year-old was a baby that year, and I guess they thought we’d have a lot of time to play the game, seeing as how we were house-bound with a baby. They thing they didn’t understand at the time (oh, but NOW they do) is that being house-bound with a new baby doesn’t mean you’ve got hours of free time to spend playing “Scene It”. Anyway. I re-wrapped that thing and took it along to a dinner party a couple of years ago, because I wasn’t sure if I needed to bring a gift. I didn’t, it turned out, so I’ve been dragging this re-wrapped box of an old out-of-date version of “Scene It” all over the country for years now, and I still haven’t managed to get rid of it. Oh wait… NOW I know what to give my step-mother-in-law!
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Shrimp. And prime rib. And my famous Christmas cookies. And mints. And oranges too. Winter oranges are just the best. And popcorn. And those solid dark chocolate oranges that you have to crack open on a table. And sparkling ciders. And cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. With really great coffees. Ahhh… life is good.
16. What decorations are on your tree?
Colored lights, red wooden beads, small wooden or cloth country-looking ornaments. The occasional plastic odd-ball thing-a-ma-jig.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
O Holy Night.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
Stay home. If people want to see us at Christmas, they can come here. That’s why I moved 2,000 miles east. And, do they come here? Of course not.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Not off the top of my head, no. But my 8-year-old’s got them listed on her bedroom door. I’m not sure why. But it’s there if I need it.
20. Angel on top of tree or star?
Star. I used to have white tree lights and a cute little country-looking angel at the top of my tree. Then I had kids.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
We’ll open a few on Christmas Eve, but the bulk of it will happen on Christmas morning. I have little kids, remember.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
When people drive into your car with their car when you’re sitting at a stop sign and then say things like: Wow! You came out of nowhere! I also hate going into Toys R Us. Every year, I think to myself that I won’t have to do it. That I’ll find everything I need at Target. Or that I’ll get my act together and order everything online early enough. But then, inevitably, I find myself in a Toys R Us late on a Tuesday night, pushing a squeaky blue cart, wandering around wishing I knew what I was looking for.
23 What theme or color are you using when you decorate?
Techno-Color Lights and Stars. With fragile porcelain figurines that children can’t stop touching. It’s all the rage on HGTV this year.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Seafood buffet on Christmas Eve. Prime Rib on Christmas Day.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Lots of cash to spend on books. And to get at least 5 hours of sleep. And to have my mother-in-law CHILL OUT for once. A quiet evening with RegularDad under the tree lights. To just have a nice Christmas.
And a new kitchen.
What? Did you think I was gonna leave it at that schmaltzy isn’t-she-so-sweet-never-asking-for-things-for-herself-Hallmark-moment ending? Uh, no.
Will I get a new kitchen? Not this year. But everything else on my list, I’m pretty much guaranteed, so I’m content with that.
As for tagging people for this, I dunno. It’s a longish one. Are you up for a long questionnaire? Go for it. I did it to find my Christmas cheer. And it worked for me. So, if you’re feeling particularly BAH-HUMBUG-ish, then I say give it a whirl.
And thanks, Ami. This was fun.