Return for the Holidays

Yeah, well, we hit some bumps in the road after Thanksgiving. Homesickness and work-related stress got the better of M for a while, but things have improved immensely now, and life is once again good. Christmas in the desert is a lot better than Thanksgiving in the desert. Just remember, the first Christmas was celebrated in a desert without evergreens or snow.

Pictures of just what we DO have in the desert for Christmas are forthcoming.

Now, to jump back in, some holiday factoids, stolen from Melissa and others.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I love to wrap presents and make them beautiful with bows and ribbon and stuff. Reality, however, is that I have had to mail my gifts to their recipients at least as often as I have delivered them in person for the last two decades, so I haven't always been able to go all out with the wrapping. Okay, this is a long answer already, so here's the crux: re-use is important to me, so gift bags are a natural choice. In fact, there are some gift bags which have been making the rounds in my family for the better part of a decade. This year, many of the gifts we sent Maine-way to my family were in gift boxes (you know, the ones that already have holiday decoration?) because they were festive but easy to pack in a shipping box.

2. Real or artificial tree? Artificial -- for reason #1 see answers 3 and 4 -- real trees become dangerous after a couple weeks. Reason #2 is that I agree with my father that the idea of killing a tree so I can hang stuff on it for a month or so is just anathema. When I was a kid, we bought ball and burlap trees and planted them in the spring.

3. When do you put up the tree? If at all possible the day after Thanksgiving. If not, as soon thereafter as possible.

4. When do you take it down? Epiphany -- January 6 -- or as close thereafter as possible.

5. Do you like eggnog? No

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Can't really think of any. Though one year my grandmother gave me a whole make-up kit.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Many. When people don't know what to give the pastor, they give her a nativity scene -- and if it's also an ornament, so much the better. Our favorites are the frosted glass one I got in college and the one from the Middle East that M got as an ordination gift.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Hands-down my in-laws (both of them). Even M thinks so.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Our 2 1/2 year old niece.

10. Worst Christmas present you ever got? Really can't think of one.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? None. I find most of them cloying or stupid. I do, however, love "The Year Without a Santa" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When I find things. I rarely go Christmas shopping -- I just buy things as I find them. We've even got a storage box in the guest room closet for them.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably.

15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas? French toast made with Panettone.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored.

17. Favorite Christmas song? "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" and "Adeste Fidelis" (yes, in Latin).

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I'm married to a pastor -- if anyone wants to see me on Christmas, they have to come to me.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes.

20. Angel or star on top of the tree? Angel.

21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning -- or afternoon depending on when we get around to it. When I was a kid, we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve after church.

22. Most annoying thing this time of year? I don't really know.

23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color? Only if all-the-ornaments-we've-collected-and-love is a theme.

24. What do you leave for Santa? Nothing since I've grown up. Used to leave cookies and milk (and carrots for the reindeer, of course).

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