December 23, 2010

Tagged For Christmas!

My daughter, Brianna, had this on her blog over at By the Way.  If you click on the link and can't get there, it is because her blog is private.  If you wish to have an invite to view her blog, leave a note in my comments and I will have her send it to you.

I can not remember the last time I did a tag and this one seemed like so much fun, I decided to join in.  Here it goes.  

1. What is your one favorite dish to see on the table at Christmas dinner?
It is hard for me to imagine Christmas without all the traditional Italian dishes but if I had to pick just one it would be fried smelt. 

2. Do you have a Nativity scene or a creche?
Ah, the white and gold jeweled nativity I gave Allen for our ceramic anniversary.

3. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Love, love, love Christmas movies.  In fact, from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day Allen doesn't allow any movies that aren't related to Christmas... although, the relationship can be a bit lose.  We have an entire shelf in our video collection dedicated just to Christmas movies.

To narrow it down to one is difficult but if I must, I would say, "It's a Wonderful Life."  I have lots of fond memories of our early years together when that was the only Christmas video we owned.  We watched it every time we watched a video.

Back then, I worked mainly second shift but often second and third shift on weekends.  Allen went to college in the mornings and worked two jobs in the afternoons and weekends.  We rarely got to see each other.  Sometimes, Allen would cook us dinner at midnight when I got home and we would sit on the couch and eat and watch our video together.  I remember doing this by the light of the Christmas tree to the sound of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed singing "Buffalo Girls" our first Christmas together in our little college apartment.

We were both so exhausted that often we would eat and then fall asleep curled up together on the couch.  I can not count how many times we woke up to Zuzu saying, "Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets their wings."  We'd get up and flop back in bed for two or three hours of sleep before starting all over again.

One funny moment was when we had both fallen asleep and Allen was dreaming about something that caused him to swing out.  You know what I mean how you do that in your dream sometimes when you feel like you are falling?  All curled up on the couch together I took the hit and got a nice bruise for it.  I still tease him about how he beat me up! 

4. If you and your family could spend this Christmas in another country, where would you go?
Italy, hands down.  For one thing, that is where most of our Christmas traditions come from.  For another, the Italians know how to celebrate.  Christmas starts on Christmas Eve and continues until the Epiphany on January 6th.

Here, Christmas is all about the shopping before hand and then Christmas is over once the gifts are opened on Christmas Day.  It is sad to prepare for a month for such a wonderful holiday and then that's it. 
5. Does your grandmother usually knit you something for Christmas, or does she give you something different -- say, a Wii?
Sadly, my grandmothers are both long gone.  They always really put effort into Christmas gifts.  They both knew how to sew, quilt and knit, as all women of their generation did.  However, I never saw them knit one single thing.  I think that once you could buy things in stores they didn't see the point in putting time into making it anymore.  As immigrants, it was a sign of being financially secure if you could buy store made things.

Anyway, my Grandmother Kathleen usually gave more practical gifts like underwear, socks and sleeping bags.  Other kids at school would complain about these things, but I always liked getting new under things.  I used my crayola crayon sleeping back until I was practically grown.  I wonder what ever happened to that, anyway.  She also threw in a Barbie doll and clothes for her every year. Which is kind of funny, because I never liked playing with Barbie dolls.  I guess that every girl at that time was supposed to like Barbie dolls so she figured I must.  I never told her I didn't like them because I didn't want to hurt her feelings or seem ungrateful.  She worked very hard to provide for her family and the many relatives who she was always helping out.

My dad's mom, Gram, usually gave things like purses, jewelry, makeup and clothes.  Again, I always liked the things she gave us.  My Aunt, who was a lot younger than my dad, lived with her and helped Gram do most of her shopping. She would pick out really luxurious things that my parents would never have bought for us.  I loved the angora sweater she gave me one year. 

6. Have you ever gone out of the house wearing a reindeer headband? What about a Santa hat?
  Don't think so. 

7.  Do you usually make or buy your Christmas gifts?
Both.  It depends on who and what and when.  The year Allen and I got married, I had no extra money for anything.  I quit smoking around Thanksgiving that year as a wedding promise to Allen.  Between that and the wedding preparations and family angst I was anxious all the time and needed something to occupy my hands.  I took up crocheting.  Everyone we knew got a scarf that year.  Everyone liked them so much that when they wore them out other people started asking me to make scarves for them.  Being we had so many military connections there were scarves literally all over the world... even to remote places like Diego Garcia, where a wool scarf is completely unnecessary. 

8. When do you set up your Christmas decorations?
The day after Thanksgiving.  When I was a kid, we set the tree up on Thanksgiving Day, while the turkey roasted.  We carried that into our marriage.  We always had so many people around on Thanksgiving it was great having the extra hands.  I think it was the year Emma Rose was born and had colic so bad that Allen decided to move the tree to the day after Thanksgiving.  The kids have been known to set up their family room tree in October or November, though.

Typically, the outdoor lights go up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  However, last year, I was in Italy for two weeks before Thanksgiving.  The kids convinced Allen it would be nice for  me to come home to the house all lit up.  Which was a fun surprise.

This November was unusually warm.  We were in the front yard one Saturday and Allen said this is when we should hang the lights not when it is cold and we need to wear gloves.  That was all it took for the kids to get in the attic and put the lights up.  I didn't think they would light them.  But they did, a number of weekends before Thanksgiving.

9. What kind of activities does your church usually have at Christmas?
We usually have a cantata for the community.  Some years we have done caroling.  I like that our Pastor themes the messages for the month of December around Christmas.  Our church has this tradition of putting out a basket for Christmas cards.  Everyone puts their Christmas letters, party invites and Christmas cards in the basket.  The young ladies sort them and hand them out to all the church members.  It is a simple thing but something that I always look forward to as a sign that Christmas is on its way.

10. Did you ever believe in Santa Claus as a child?
My parents did the Santa deal but I don't think anyone but my older brother ever believed it.  Once Frank knew it wasn't true he made sure we knew, too.  We didn't let on to our folks, though.  It would spoil all their fun.

11. Which of the Gospels gives your favorite account of the Christmas story?
 I like them both.  How can you go wrong.  They each give a different perspective.  Luke is very stirring, though.  I like the language.

12. Have you ever acted in a Christmas pageant?
 Singing is one of my passions.  As young as I can remember I was in the choir at our church.  We didn't have a children's choir all the time so I sang in the adult choir with my mom.  I remember singing a duet with her one Christmas Eve.  It was "Do You Hear What I Hear?".  Standing in the choir loft, overlooking the congregation, by the candlelight and the sound of the pipe organ ringing out was such a memorable moment that I still get goose bumps when I think about it.

Some years we did have  kids choir, too.  And then I would take part in whatever they were doing.  One year, I remember they did a pageant in the traditional sense.  My sister wanted to be more than a generic angel or shepherd so when they were short on boys to play Joseph, she got the part.

As the oldest, I was designated to read the Christmas Story as it was acted out.  

In 2000 our choir director needed someone to do a one line part in our church's Christmas cantata.  Most people would insulted at such a small part, but I loved it.  I can not act and hate the idea of trying so this was perfect for me to say I helped out without having to act.  I played a grandmother and Allen played her husband as the main character.  It was fun trying out different ways to make our hair white.  That was my favorite of all our church's Christmas cantatas.  The music was beautiful and almost every member took part in it so it was really a fun group effort.

13. Do you buy Christmas presents for your pets?
Not really.  But I do remember getting a can of tuna for our cat once and wrapping it and putting in a little stocking.  Only somewhere before Christmas we ran out of cat food.  I unwrapped it and gave it to her for dinner.

14. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
There are so many that I couldn't imagine not having on Christmas!  Singing at the piano, reading Christmas stories by the light of the tree, dressing up for a fancy Christmas Eve dinner, new pajamas on Christmas Eve, writing and getting Christmas cards, the great foods, baking, delivering gift baskets to the neighbors, the cantata...

15.  Did you do anything Christmas-y today?
We started the day by getting up early and curling up on the couch in our pajamas for breakfast and a viewing of "It's a Wonderful Life."  Then we finished the Christmas letters and party invites and finally put them in the mail.  We also baked cookies and made preparations for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.  I finished up the afternoon by helping my boys wrap their gifts.     

Anyone, who would like to join in and take part in this super fun tag is welcomed.  Let me know if you post so I can stop by and take a look.

Merry Christmas,


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