The Boy Named Sous has passed it along, and I'm in the holiday spirit, so off I go.
1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
I can only nog at Chirstmastime. Hot chocolate is a more common treat, but around the holidays I stir it with a peppermint stick or a candy cane.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
"Santa" went on all-night wrapping binges in our family; when the eldest elf (your truly) passed the point where he knew what was up, he pitched in.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Colored lights on the tree. I don't remember putting up lights on the house all that often; we used to have the old-style humongous bulbs that could survive a smack with a hammer. It got to the point where we couldn't replace them when they burned out so the house went without. However, one thing I will insist on in Casa Nightfly is uniform outdoor lighting - it looks so ghetto when one bush is white, one is multi, and each awning is done in a different solid color, only one of which blinks.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Now that I have a reason.
5. When do you put your decorations up?
Mom's side of the family tends to toss them up early December, as did we; my Dad's side will wait. Ladybug's family is somewhere in between. The common thread is that it's a family event, and everyone decks the halls together. We made up for the lack of outdoor lighting by festooning everything inside - garland along the hallway, a large card display, tree front and center in the living room.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
We go for the seven fish feast on Dad's side, which makes it hard to pick. I always enjoy Mom's lasagna, too, and of course we had it every Christmas.
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child:
Going downtown and seeing all the various shops getting ready for Christmas. Few if any were a destination for holiday shopping - the Minuteman Press, the bank, a small C-Town, the bakery, a pizzeria - but all got into the spirit, and of course some of the buildings had apartments above with lights twinkling from their windows.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Gradually, I guess. I don't remember any classmates blurting. My brother and sister are much younger than I, so after I got the memo I had to conspire with our parents to keep the dream alive for them. In both my family and Ladybug's there is still the occasional gift from Santa left under the tree.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Actually, Dad's side of the family opens them all shortly after midnight. Mom's side (the way we usually did it growing up) waits until the day, as does my fiancee. As a result, we get to go north to my cousins, open a small batch there, and then come home for more in the morning.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Same as Brian, actually - lights, garland, ornaments. We have some traditional bulbs and things that have been around since before I was born, and a nativity set that possibly predates my Mom. These things are very old, all made in Italy, and not easily replaced now. Then there's stuff that we kids made that go onto the tree.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
Love it. Here in Jersey it usually doesn't happen until mid-to-late January; we almost never actually have snow on the day.
12. Do you ice skate?
Shame of shames - Goalie Boy has actually never tried to ice skate. I fall down a lot on roller blades and have been a little gun-shy about stepping up in class, though my friends all say it's actually easier than roller skating. Someday I plan to spend the money on a season in Hockey North America's beginner level, where they teach you what you're doing before turning you loose.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I don't remember the gifts so much as the Christmas back on Long Island where the heat failed. We had a kerosene heater for the living room and a small electric space heater for the bathroom. Everyone pretty much took turns opening stuff in the loo and then coming out for hugs and thank-yous. It was a lot of fun.
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
The whole package adds up for me - seeing my family is best, especially those in Florida, but I enjoy the fun of hunting down that perfect gift for my loved ones, the weather as it starts to turn, the decorations... I'm a Christmas junkie.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Mom's homemade cream puffs, the moreso because she went about fifteen years without making them. (I'm still working on a delivery system to the panhandle, btw...)
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The long drive down to Florida to see my family - it's a new thing, but quite fun, especially trading greetings with all the folks I meet on the way. A little holiday adventure never hurts.
17. What tops your tree?
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Giving. I love seeing people's faces light up when they really like their gift. When I was little I confess it was the other way around, and it wasn't until I had a kid brother that I started to see things the right way round.
19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
We Three Kings, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and the original instrumental Sleigh Ride.
20. Candy canes:
As mentioned above, great for stirring cocoa. In fact, answering the question above made me run off to put it into practice. Mmmmm.... minty cocoa.....
21. Favorite Christmas movie?
Miracle on 34th Street.
22. What do you leave for Santa?
I think the first hint to whom I was actually leaving things was leaving coffee exactly the way Dad liked it, along with cookies with a lot of icing (which my folks knew that I wouldn't eat).
So - I'm supposed to also tag some other folk to answer. It's not my usual practice - but again, it's the holidays, and it's all about sharing! Sheila, Tracey, and the Barking Spider - you're on.