Christmas, Finals, The Usual

Well, this is more or less a tag of sorts, thanks to my former boss/friend, Shelley Bennion. Bless you and the rest of the Bennions for this one, Shelley. http://thelifeiimagine.blogspot.com/ 1) Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? It really depends on a few things. Hot Chocolate is perfect for reading that trashy, popcorn fiction thriller you picked up for the holidays while sitting on the couch watching the fire crackle; Egg Nog goes splendidly with friends, tacky Christmas Sweaters, and exchanging five dollar white elephant presents. 2) Do you wrap your presents or not? Really, that's a question?! Ummm...wrapped. How else would you create the ecstasy of tearing apart the frustratingly thin veil that separates you from the coolest thing this side of Black Friday? 3) Colored lights or white? I'm a traditionalist when it comes to lights. I like the white lights better generally, but those darn colored lights just remind so much of Christmas mornings in the mid 80s and 90s that I can't help but get a little giddy hanging them up. 4) Do you hang mistletoe? No. I had a bad experience with mistletoe in the 11th grade. Let's just say that I was firmly entrenched in my awkward phase, and mistletoe just made it that much more awkward. 5) When do you put up your decorations? The day after Thanksgiving. However, I have to state here that the only decoration I have is a Christmas background on my Computer. I think my Mom puts up decorations around the first week of December. I remember trying very hard not to wet myself on Dec. 1st when we would make Christmas Chains, start to burn the Advent Candle and start to put up decorations at home. Man, I love Christmas traditions...! 6) What is your favorite holiday dish? Cercil, a kind of pork sausage that my Grandma made every Christmas Eve. Can't get enough of the stuff. 7) Favorite memory as a child? Sitting around the fireplace Christmas Eve listening to my sisters bear their testimonies of the reality of Santa Claus. Heidi told us that one year, in the middle of the night (10:00 pm), she had heard a bump downstairs near the fireplace. It couldn't have been Dad or Mom at that late hour, so by process of elimination, it had to be Kris Kringle! Looking back on it, though, my favorite was the year that Kirsti suggested "Santa's getting fat, let's leave him some carrot sticks, apple slices, and water." Dad, chewing his lip and looking very concerned, said "If you really want to make Santa happy, you'll leave him some Root Beer and Oreo Cookies." Man, was Dad right! The loot that year was especially impressive. 8) When and how did you learn about Santa? At home and at school. Still love the story about the jolly old elf! However, I came to the realization that Santa might be fictional when one year all the presents were numbered instead of being addressed to the recipients. We would have to pick up a gift, read a number, and Dad would then translate to whom the gift was going. It all played part in a logical system of accounting and sorting. That's what you get when your Dad is a management engineer, I guess. :D 9) Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. We usually have my Dad's side of the family over on Christmas Eve (vestages of a Norwegian tradition), and we exchange gifts. Sometimes Santa will send something early via Mom and Dad. Actually--I think we were told that Mom and Dad had some kind of business partnership with Santa. That's why Santa would often send gifts and have Mom and Dad wrap them and sign them in their handwriting. That must be why I believed he was real until I was 10 or so. 10) How do you decorate your tree? With nearly every ornament we've collected over the years. Some might call it tacky, and it might look that way, but every single ornament has some personal significance to us. That's what matters most, right?! If that makes us tacky, then so be it. Everyone else is just snooty. 11) Snow...love it or dread it? Can't imagine what life would be like without it. Winter would just be cold without snow. Instead, it's fluffy, crisp, and innocent. 12) Can you ice skate? Yes, but I'm horrible. I dated a girl who was great at it and would hold my hand while we went around in circles. In order to make her happy, I pretended like I loved it, but I really just got sore shins and wondered when I could stop making a fool of myself. Later, I realized that I spend most of my life making a fool of myself anyway, so I'm OK with ice skating now. We're cool. However, things didn't quite work out so well with the girl. I'm pretty sure she cheated on me with a guy who could ice skate. 13) Do you remember your favorite gift? Nintendo Entertainment System, 1989. Days after receiving this Gift of Gifts, I began to get up at 5am in order to get all my chores done so I could get some Mario Bros. in before school. This kind of dedication baffles me, since I can't seem to wake up until after 9am, even when I have to get out of bed at 6:30am. If I were half as passionate about the law as I was about that little Japanese game system, I'd be in the Supreme Court by now. 14) What is the most important part of the holidays? Family, no doubt. Can't get enough of my parnts and siblings. Also, thinking about this, the nativity story is really a family story at its core, isn't it? Young couple trying to find a place to stay so they can pay their taxes. They have to stay at the local Motel 8, and while there, Mom goes into labor surrounded by farm animals. The first Christmas was divinely dysfunctional, and so relatable. 15) Favorite holiday dessert? Rice Pudding with Raspberry Syrup. We have rice pudding every year as dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner. Grandma would make the pudding and a homemade raspberry topping: Crazy Delicious! Then she would slip an almond into one of the bowls, and the person who got the almond won a box of chocolates. It took me 22 years to win that thing, but Christmas 2004 was the year I finally won it all! What a great year. 16) Favorite tradition? Christmas Morning, having to wait for Dad to set everything up downstairs (mostly his camcorder). We'd all wait excitedly at the top of the stairs, sometimes for 20 minutes or more, depending on when we convinced everyone to get up. I think one year we got everyone to agree to 7:00 am. Nowadays, it's more like 9:00am. Anyway, visualize the kind of nubile energy that gets pent up for 364 days each year, cram it into this 20 minute span, and you can imagine the kind of electricity shooting around the stairwell. While we don't really sleep everybody upstairs anymore, it's still one of the greatest parts of the Vogeler Christmas. 17) Favorite Christmas Carol? Tie between "The First Noel" and "Still, Still, Still." Christmas music in general is awesome. My favorite part of being in choirs has always been the obligatory Christmas concert. For whatever reason, some of the most achingly beautiful melodies in western music have been tied to Christmas.


madelyn said...

Another great post. That business partnership with Santa is a great idea! I think that Santa and I will form a corporation to effectively and efficiently hand out Christmas presents when I have children!

Your story reminded me of the year we came down the stairs to a "tower of boxes" - none of which were wrapped or addressed, but each had some sort of picture/code written with a black Sharpie. Only my Dad could decipher said code. Hooray for being the youngest!

Natalie L. said...

Stellar post on the winter holidays. Christmas time really is the greatest time of the year. And I totally agree on the music- I saw Handel's Messiah live for the first time last night. Incredible. It really hit home on the true meaning of this season. Good luck with finals... I'm successfully avoiding mine right now.