- Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. I like egg nog, but absurdly sparingly—it’s so rich, a single small glass is all I need to last me the entire season.
- Does Santa wrap presents or just place them under the tree?
Wraps. Everything under the tree is wrapped no matter the source.
- Colored lights on tree/house or white?
When I was a kid, we had a riot of different colors and sizes of lights on our tree, including some of my all-time favorites, the bubble lights. Now, we use the small-bulb white strands and the effect is simply spectacular.
- Do you hang mistletoe?
Haven’t for years. It was a tradition at my parents’ house when I was a kid but I’ve never had mistletoe in any of my own houses.
- When do you put your decorations up?
Often it depends on one of two things: 1) When the last weekend is before Christmas, and/or 2) when any out-of-town visitors will be arriving. This year I’ll probably have them up before my mom arrives on Dec 22.
- What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
I’m a big fan of our traditional holiday meals. We have two. First is a tamale, corn, egg-noodle, and cheese dish (we call it “tamale dish”) that developed into a traditional dish for the day we put up the Christmas tree when I was still living at my parents’ house. Over a period of a few years it just happened to be the meal we always prepared that day, and once we recognized the trend, we formalized it to be part of the day.
My other favorite is the turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, and so on, the holiday meal we prepare and enjoy on Christmas Eve. I’ve particularly grown to enjoy this meal in the last few years with the brining cooking method we use for the turkey. The meal becomes a full day (sometimes two, with the brining process) of cooking and friends and family, the centerpiece of our holiday tradition.
- Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Oh, I’ve so many.
First among them would have to be the times we visited my grandmother Gammy in Arcadia, CA (although Christmas with palm trees still seems weird to me), or when she visited us in Salt Lake City. She was such a sparkling addition to the holidays and anytime she was around, the season just glowed.
Next would be a toss-up among the Christmas-morning jitters (trying to stay in bed just a little longer so the parents could sleep past 07:00... man oh man, how difficult that was), the happiness of the day, the occasional white Christmases with family breakfasts and the warm living room contrasted against the bright white chill visible outside the living-room windows, and too many other memories to count.
- When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don’t remember a specific moment of truth. I think it happened when I was 7 or 8 and realized when I woke up a little after midnight that it was my parents’ voices I was hearing from downstairs.
- Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We did when we were children; it was one of our big traditions. It was usually new jammies in a holiday theme. Now, we open a gift occasionally but not always.
- How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
I like a fairly spare tree—not a lot of tinsel-type stuff, but strands of small-bulb white lights and ornaments that in some cases date back to before I was born.
- Snow! Love it or dread it?
Love love LOVE it. The times we’d go sledding down the alley across the street from Mom’s house, often in the dead of night as the snow continued to fall and the muted glow of the city washed over us—some of my favorite memories (sometime I’ll have to tell the story of the apple-cider pressing I encountered at 02:00 one morning).
Dread dread DREAD it in Seattle, however, with our weatherdorks completely overreacting every time there’s a single snowflake reported within 50 miles of the city, and with Seattle-area residents’ inexperience in winter-weather driving.
- Can you ice skate?
If by “ice skate” you mean “wear ice skates,” absolutely. By the stricter definition of “remain upright and/or propel oneself in a controlled manner across a sheet of ice while wearing metal blades affixed to shoes”—not so much. I can stay upright for a time, but I usually end up flat on my back or face-first into the ice. Good for laffs, I suppose!
- Do you remember your favorite gift?
I’ve had a few.
I got a bicycle one year, styled with feathers and bows and arrows à la Native Americans. It was my favorite bike until I got a 10-speed in my teens.
I’ve received a couple of trips and similar experience-oriented gifts that utterly enthralled me. These have been my favorites of the last several Christmases, in large part because they mean I’ll get to spend time with my family and friends in memories we’ll all share for years.
- What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
It’s a time of introspection for me. The mixture of family, friends, time off work, and the general sense of the season means a great deal to me, a perfect way to finish out each year.
- What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Major fan of pumpkin pie—it’s probably my all-time favorite dessert, in fact. A little real whipped cream, lightly sweetened with a bit of powdered sugar... yum.
- What is your favorite holiday tradition?
In the last 10 years or so, we’ve switched our holiday meal from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve, which allows us to enjoy the bustle of the holiday-meal prep with family and friends but also lets us separate it from the holiday itself, effectively extending the holiday to two days—we enjoy the time much more because the gatherings and spirit aren’t crushed into a single day.
- What tops your tree?
When we were kids, it was a big star with several lights. Since then it’s been an angel, a different star, or a carefully arranged plume of lights on the top-most strand in the few years when I didn’t have a topper.
- Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
I love watching people receiving gifts I’ve given, the smiles and surprises are so joyful—nothing like the look of amazement from the recipient of an unexpected perfect gift. But I certainly enjoy receiving gifts as well, particularly as I get older and family and friends grow to know me better.
- What is your favorite Christmas song?
I absolutely adore two songs over all others: “The Little Drummer Boy” by the Harry Simeone Chorale or by the Ray Conniff Singers, and “The Carol of the Bells” by the Harry Simeone Chorale or in some of the instrumental arrangements I’ve heard.
- Candy canes: yuck or yum?
I like the way they look purely from the traditional stance, though I don’t use them in my own Christmas traditions. I don’t much care for them as actual food items, however.
- Favorite Christmas movie?
It’s a Wonderful Life. I don’t watch it every year, specifically because I want to continue to like it.
- What do you leave for Santa?
When we were kids, we left cookies of some sort (sugar, chocolate-chip, or whatever else we’d baked) with a glass of milk. One of our first things on Christmas morning was to check the plate to see if Santa had enjoyed our snack—wonder of wonders, he always had. :-)