Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holidays already?

On her latest post, Courtney talked about Christmas traditions and getting amped up for the upcoming holidays. Mostly, for me, holidays are about being with our whole family. Our daughter and son-in-law come in every year from California, bless their hearts. It may not always be exactly on Christmas (usually it isn't) but they always come and for that we're extremely grateful.

I'm going to steal shamelessly from Courtney's post to create mine and, therefore, establish consistency. Thanks to Courtney and Cousin Jim for the helpful questions.

When is it okay to start listening to Christmas music? I think right around Thanksgiving is about right. Although it's weird because, as I was reading Courtney's post, O Holy Night by John Berry started playing on my husband's computer behind me and it sounded very timely. Of course, it is a wonderful version of that song. Still, it was sort of spooky as though someone was reading my mind!

What's your all-time favorite "it's not Christmas til I hear it" Christmas CD? For me, it's Stevie Wonder's Someday at Christmas. We played that on vinyl when the girls were growing up and a few years ago, our oldest daughter Holly found it on a CD and gave it to me for Christmas. I cried. Johnnie didn't care for the Steve Wonder CD at first but it's grown on him over time. Also George Winston's December is a timeless classic filled with beautiful piano and instrumental versions of traditional songs. Johnnie favors the song Father Christmas by Emerson Lake and Palmer, turned up at a deafening decibel level and standing in the exact center of the surround speakers. He grins like a Cheshire cat and I love to watch him listen to that song!

When is it okay to break out those Christmas specials and start watching them?
Again, around Thanksgiving time. We try to remember to listen to Alice's Restaurant on Thanksgiving and that paves the way for the Christmas music, specials and movies. By the time Christmas rolls around, I'm as tired of Christmas songs as I was of campaign ads on radio and TV this year.

What's your favorite Christmas movie AND Christmas special? I like all the hokey Christmas movies, like The Santa Clause but not the weird Tim Burton ones like Nightmare before Christmas. In terms of specials, Charlie Brown Christmas.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition from when you were younger that you try to do today? Having tacos, burritos and refries for Christmas Eve dinner. At the time we started that, it was my anti-tradition sentiments that pushed us that way. Plus our family loved that dinner and it was fun to have that on Christmas Eve. We still do it, but because of Holly and Mike's travel schedule, we'll have it on whatever we designate as Christmas Eve with them. Still fun. Otherwise I don't think we've maintained a lot of our early childhood traditions - either from Johnnie's family or mine. We discontinued making a gingerbread house as a group (mostly we all ate the candy and cookies and a few landed on the gingerbread house) a few years ago but may resurrect that when Emily and Lucy are a little older and can participate with us.

What is your new favorite Christmas tradition? Something started AFTER you left home? Well, the taco dinner thing is new since leaving my parents' home. Before Johnnie's mother passed away in 2001, we went to Cleveland to be with his brothers and mother for every Christmas. Since she is gone, we now have our own Christmas here at home. I like having the luxury of just the two of us doing something without pressure and time constraints; it's fun to laze around and savor the day. We don't travel other than to Erin's and Mike's, depending on what their schedule is for the actual day of Christmas.

What do you hope Santa brings this year? I don't really care as long as we're together. That sounds hokey but I have so few things I need. We're planning to do more charitable giving this year and giving more distant family members a note telling them that we've donated in their names. They don't need stuff either*. We have tried within our immediate family to emphasize made gifts rather than bought ones. Our daughters have adhered to it much better than we have. I claim parents' prerogative and we (Johnnie and I) get them/make them whatever we feel we can afford and want to get/make for them. We create and trade lists but in my mind, they're just guidelines. Sorry, girls!

Now, as Courtney said, it's your turn to blog about your holidays and what makes them special to you and your family.

* For my last birthday, Erin's stepmother and father gave me this plastic bag (grocery bag) of items including: a bar of scented soap, a small bottle of Purel, one magnetic picture frame from a package of more than one, foot cream, corn plasters and something else weird that I don't even remember. It was tough to thank them sincerely without asking "What the heck were you thinking?" I really think that she remembered at the last minute before they left to come here and thought, "Oh crap, it's her birthday. What do I have here in the drawer that I can give her?" Therefore, I am taking the hint that they don't really want to exchange gifts any more so we'll donate to a charity and let them know it's in their names. They also regifted a pair of gardening gloves to me a couple years ago. I thought it was very strange.

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