Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Answers to the Christmas Geneameme

Randy Seaver challenged us to participate in a Christmas genea-meme posted by Cassmob in the blog, Family History Across the Seas, in which she asked questions relating to how we spend Christmas. Here are my answers. Like Randy, I put the questions in green, and my responses in red.

1.          Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family?  Not any longer. When I was small, we’d go to my maternal grandparents’ house. (Grandma was born on Christmas Eve; Grandpa on Christmas Day.) Grandpa and my uncles would spend the entire day playing pinochle at the kitchen table, except when Grandma made them stop because we needed the table for dinner. Uncle Ed K. (one of 3 Uncle Eds that I had) would film the festivities. He always brought his 8 mm. movie camera. I wish I could see those films; I don’t know if they still exist. On my paternal side, we usually went to my Uncle Ed Herrick's house for Christmas Eve. That was always fun, with a lot of food and laughter and family. (See #5 below.) After my uncle died, one of his daughters started doing it. This year will be tough because my aunt died just a few weeks ago.
2.          Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day?  No; I'm not religious.
3.          Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?  I did when I was young. Once my mom went out for the evening. Wouldn’t you know it, Santa visited just 15 minutes later! ;) I don't have kids, so I don't have to worry about spoiling the magic.
4.          Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?  No.
5.          What’s your favourite Christmas music?  Traditional hymns. I don’t like the more modern songs. Now, if you’d ask which song was most memorable, I’d say Bing Crosby singing “Mele Kalikimaka.” That album was about the only Christmas album my uncle and aunt had, so we heard it a LOT.
6.          What’s your favourite Christmas carol? O Come All Ye Faithful. Or Silent Night. Or O Holy Night. I hate to sing Christmas carols - they always make me cry, and I can’t get through the song.
7.          Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read?  I like to watch The Bishop’s Wife (the original, with Cary Grant and Loretta Young… not the Whitney Houston remake.) Sometimes I’d watch It’s a Wonderful Life and I'd yell at the screen, “George Bailey is such a WIMP. He should stop putting aside his wishes and do whatever the heck he wants!” I work in Hammond, Ind., the boyhood home of Jean Shepherd, whose A Christmas Story is kind of autobiographical. I watched the film once and (shhh... it may be heresy, but...) I don’t find it funny at all. I just don't get it.
8.          Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?  I give gifts to my nieces and nephew. Mostly gift cards.
9.          Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?  Always indoors. I’m single with no kids, so if other family members are hosting dinner on Christmas, I may attend. The older I get, the more I dislike big noisy gatherings, so sometimes I just veg out at home with take-out and a bottle of wine. When my siblings and their families and I get together to celebrate Christmas, it’s never ON Christmas; it’s whenever they don’t have another holiday family commitment. It could be Christmas Eve; it could be New Year’s Day.
10.      What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal? For this year’s “family” Christmas, we’re having pizza. We’ll have a few desserts. Low-key is our motto. I really, really hate to cook, and my siblings don’t have the time or energy.
11.      Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas?  No.
12.      Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?  We've never had Christmas pudding.
13.      Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?  My sister-in-law usually makes pizelles. There are some appetizers that I know I'll have at my cousin's house this year.
14.      Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?  No.
15.      Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa?  One of my siblings usually hosts the family Christmas (which, as I mentioned, is never on Christmas).
16.      Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?  Yes, we now make use of gift cards and the Internet. Plus our parents, grandparents and aunts/uncles are all gone, so we don't get together for a dinner like we used to.
17.      How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins?  No. Sometimes I’ll go to a business-related function, but that’s it.
18.      Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?  No. I have two small lit trees inside, but nothing outside
19.      Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?  No, but I know of a few.
20.      Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?  No, we never have.
21.      Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)?  No.
22.      Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?  Usually at home.
23.      Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?  I live in the American Midwest. Sometimes there is snow; sometimes not. Last year we didn’t (it was a VERY mild winter. I love those!).
24.      Do you have a Christmas tree every year?  Yes, a small one.
25.      Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?  Imitation. We had live trees when we were little, until Dad bought one of the early artificial trees in the mid-1960s. It’s still in storage in the garage. It wasn’t one of those silver aluminum trees like my maternal grandparents had, with the turntable and that revolving light wheel. Ours was green and the branches' "needles" look like green cellophane.
26.      Do you have special Xmas tree decorations?  I made a bunch of decorations over the years but I’m throwing those out. There are a few old ornaments from the trees of my childhood that I'm temporarily borrowing, and two photo ornaments of a dog I used to have.  
27.      Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?  As a religious event, neither. As far as the number of family obligations, Thanksgiving for my family means fewer people to visit, no presents to buy, and much less stress. But I imagine they would say Christmas is more important.