I've always loved Christmas. It's my favorite holiday and I usually spend a good portion of the year getting ready for it.
When I was a little girl, my Mom and I lived with her parents, two brothers and sister. I was the first grandchild and yes, I was spoiled. My Grandparents both loved Christmas and it was an enormous celebration in our house with lots of family and friends, good food, pretty decorations and fabulous gifts. I remember several years when I was surrounded by adoring adults who showered me with attention and gifts. I've always wished every child could experience a day like that at least once in their lives.
Chan has some interesting questions on her blog today and I'll give my answers.
Have you started your shopping?
I've already started my shopping for next year. I have a closet off the guest room where I stash gifts and there are several in there. I buy things all year as I see them or think of them. I keep a notebook with a list of every Christmas gift I've given since 1968 and I make notes all year when someone mentions something they'd like. I also watch what people look at in store windows or magazine ads. I make some of my gifts, and some years have made them all. I start knitting, sewing or cross stitching between Christmas and New Years.
What is one of your special traditions?
Growing up we had a number of traditions, but when Rob and I married we wanted to start our own. We make cookies and fudge, put it in pretty containers and take it to our neighbors and special friends.
I think our favorite tradition is putting the dogs toys in the toy box and opening the box on Christmas morning. I love watching them look thru the box and select that special toy. Some hide the first toy and come back for a second, some trade with another dog and poor Monty could never make a choice. All the good toys were gone before he could decide. I always held out a special one just for him.
Are you a Black Friday shopper?
Yes and no. Before I married, my Mom would stay at my apartment on Thanksgiving night, then we would go shopping the next day. We had so much fun, eating out and shopping for each other. If she saw something she liked, I'd get it for her. She'd buy neat stuff for me, then we'd go home and play with our loot. We'd start our real shopping the next day. Now, I do almost all my shopping on-line, so I can shop on Black Friday and never see another person.
When do you put up your tree?
We usually put them up around the second week in December. We have a 12' tree in the living room decorated with traditional ornaments and ornaments that we've acquired on our travels. There are some old family pieces and some hand made ones.
We have a 7' tree in our big room in the basement. I don't know what to call that room. Den doesn't seem right for a room with a 15'ceiling. We usually refer to it as the gallery because we have lots of paintings hung in there. I trim that tree with blue and silver ornaments and our doggy ornaments.
In the front entrance hall we have a 5' tree decorated with fake cookies and candies, though they look very real. Apparently they don't smell real because the dogs have never tried to eat them.
We have an 18" gold metal tree in the bedroom on the dresser. I have special tiny little ornaments for it. We have a teeny 5" tree in the kitchen with teeny dogs on it.
Do you travel at Christmas or stay home?
When we lived on the East Coast closer to family, we sometimes spent Christmas with one family or the other. Now that we're so far away we stay home. Also, it's almost impossible to travel with ten dogs.
What is your funniest Christmas memory?
The year my Mom got all the tags mixed up on the gifts. As my brother, sister and I would open a gift, she'd grab it out of our hands and hand it to someone else. It was very confusing, but funny.
There was also the year my dog Libby went downstairs while we were asleep and ate all the candy and fruit from our stockings and licked the candy canes my sister had tied on the packages. The next morning there was stuff scattered around from the stockings and the gifts were all sticky. By the way, Libby had diarrhea for two days after that.
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
The Nightmare Before Christmas. We love Tim Burton.
Do you like Christmas baking? What's your favorite?
Yes, I like it. My favorite is my Grandmother's chocolate cookie recipe. It was my Grandfather's favorite and I think it's mine, too. I don't make it very often because I could sit there and eat the whole pan full. They bring back lots of memories besides tasting delicious. I like baking for the dogs, too, because they're so pleased when I do it.
Do you have a fake or real tree?
We have fake trees. Until I married Rob, I always had real trees and my family all had them. Every year I got sick at Christmas. I attributed it to stress, but Rob discovered that I'm extremely allergic to pine oil. The tree was making me sick each year and no one ever thought of it.
When does panic set in to get it all done?
I think this year is the latest I've ever been for a combination of reasons. There have been years when I've been all done in July and my goal each year is to have everything mailed out on the day after Thanksgiving. This year I'm late, but since there are no small children anymore to shop for, it doesn't really matter if things are there ahead of time or a few days late. As it is, I mailed out the last packages today.
Are you wrapping on Christmas Eve? No, most of our gifts get mailed to family and friends who live in other states and countries. Everything is done well before Christmas Eve, though the last few years Rob and I go out early that day to pick up little stocking stuffers for each other and maybe stop for an Irish coffee to celebrate.
What is your favorite family fun at Christmas?
Since it's just the two of us, we usually have a game of Scrabble and share a bottle of wine. We play with the dogs and if we get new toys, we play with them. It's a quiet relaxing day around here.
What Christmas craft do you like best?
I'm not sure what a Christmas craft is, but I enjoy knitting Christmas stockings and other ornaments. I also cross stitch and sew ornaments and stockings. My Mom and I used to make toothpick trees and I bought the materials to try it again in the coming year.
What is your favorite Christmas music?
My favorites are Greensleeves and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. There are lots of others I like a lot, too. About 18 years ago I taught myself to pay the piano and I enjoy playing Christmas music. I haven't played in several years, but that's something I'd like to get back to in 2010.
When do you plan to finish shopping? I never finish. When I see something that seems right for someone I know, I get it and stick it away for the next Christmas or birthday.
I've been sick for the last few weeks and haven't had much holiday spirit. I was starting to feel overwhelmed, but Rob stepped in this week and helped me get everything together and shipped out. Everything is on it's way to it's new home and most of it will be there before Christmas.
It's been a tough year starting with losing Monty last Christmas, getting used to Robs' retirement and now Samba being sick, but I'm going to try to relax thru the rest of this year and get back on track for 2010. Thank you all for your wonderful comments this year and for being so supportive.