I'm staying in a friend's apartment this week prior to returning home on Sunday, since the dorms closed last Saturday. And sometimes, when I'm left alone with few commitments and a lovely kitchen on my hands, things happen.
Sometimes, this happens: lovely sunlight breakfast, with candles just because I can.
Sometimes this happens. Dinner made for a friend is always better than dinner for oneself.
Sometimes, these happen. Such a silly name, monkey bread, but such a sweet treat.
Or this. Oh, this is just one of the best cakes I've ever tasted.
And sometimes, I have time to knit an entire sock in the space of two days.
Well, I was looking for something to post on my blog, and as both Sarah Jane, Rachel, and Serena have posted this meme in the last few weeks, I thought I'd give it a go :-) I enjoyed it - I hope you will as well!
1. Eggnog or hot chocolate? I enjoy eggnog sometimes, but hot chocolate is always a favourite. It's best when it's made my dad's way: sugar and cocoa powder blended together and heated, on the stovetop, with milk. (As we got older, sometimes he'd add a splash of peppermint liqueur - fantastic!)
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We never really "did" Santa Claus - we joke about him, but I don't remember a time when I thought he was real. But our presents are always, always wrapped. (The last several years, I've helped my mother wrap the family gifts - we spread out the wrapping paper, ribbons, boxes, and tape in the basement, pop in a movie, and set up a screen between us while we wrap each other's presents - the screen comes down when those are finished.) In my family, everything gets wrapped - even the things that go in stockings!
3. Colored lights on the tree/house or white? Always white. We tried coloured lights one year but none of us care for them. (I like them on other people's trees, though!)
4. Do you hang mistletoe? We never have at home - I'd like too, though. (Funny story: my freshman year of college, my friend Shannon and I hunted all over town for mistletoe, eventually settling for a poor imitation from Hobby Lobby, and hung it in the doorway of the student lounge in the music building. Neither of us got kissed, but a few other people did!)
5. When do you put your Christmas decorations up? At home, the tradition is to do it on the afternoon of the first Sunday of Advent (then they stay up until the 12th day of Christmas, in January!) This gets shifted around depending on schedules, of course, but that's when I like to do it. At school, it happens whenever we get time (sometimes not at all, but we did get lights and a wreath up this year!)
6. Favorite holiday dish? Probably the roast beef and Yorkshire puddings that we traditionally have at Christmas - drowned in gravy, and oh-so-bad for my hips, but one of the best things I've ever tasted.
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Some of my favourites are of putting up the tree every year; we had such a system. Daddy always put up the lights, and Mummy did the "cranberries" (strings of wooden beads painted a rich deep red.) Then we children were allowed to help with the other ornaments. As we got older, my big brother took over the lights, and I inherited the cranberry strings - now probably the younger two do it. But we all still help with the ornaments. I love, also, the nightly Advent readings, and the songs that went with them, and especially the lighting of the candles in the Advent wreath, every Sunday until Christmas.
8. When did you learn the truth about Santa? We never really did Santa - it was sort of like the tooth fairy - we joked about them, but knew they weren't real.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No, although if someone gives me a gift before Christmas I'll usually open it then, if I'm not going to see the person again for a while.
10. How do you decorate a tree? We always have pure white lights, the afore-mentioned cranberry strings, and an odd collection of ornaments, some boughten, some home-made. The thing I love most about our tree, though, is that everything on it has to have something to do with the Biblical Christmas story - if we wanted to put something unusual on, we had to be able to make a convincing case for why it had something to do with Christ. So we don't have any "souvenir" type ornaments - it's very classic.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? I love, love, love snow. I never get enough of it. The sight of a snowfall always makes me feel Christmassy - even if it's October, or March! I love waking up to a new fall of snow, too.
12. Can you ice skate? I'm not great at it - I can get around passably, but skating backwards is out of my skill level! I love it though. We've lived across the street from a tiny lake for the last ten years; it freezes solid in December and remains that way until March or so, so we've all learned to skate on it.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I can't think of a single "favourite" gift - I have loved them all, I think! Some stand-out ones are when I was 11 and received my very first teacup... then a few years ago when I was given a lovely fountain pen... and throughout the years, many of my very favourite books and CD recordings have been Christmas gifts. (Oh! The year my mother made me a "Ravenclaw" scarf was pretty great too! I love that scarf, I wear it all the time.)
14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you? Absolutely tops is the focus and attention on the very first Christmas; I love church during Advent and Christmas. I love spending time with my family, and I love how many traditions we have, that I don't even think about because I'm so used to them, until I'm away from home and missing them.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? It'll be a three-way tie between some of our traditional Christmas cookies - brandy balls, ginger shortbread, and the Russian Teacakes (affectionately known, in my family, as "Swedish Meatballs" - because of their passing similarity in appearance to that delicacy! We blame Daddy for that one ;-) )
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? I've mentioned so many already - decorating the tree is definitely a favourite, as are the Advent wreath and readings. The cookie-baking extravaganza, which always involves six or seven types of cookies, numerous tins, more pounds of butter than I like to admit, and the entire family, is also a favourite - I have so many good memories of that!
17. What tops your tree? It's been a star of one form or another as long as I can remember.
18. Which do you prefer-Giving or Receiving? I must admit I love receiving gifts, but I derive a great deal of pleasure from giving gifts as well, especially if it is something I have made myself and know the recipient will enjoy (and some people are so joyous in the way they receive gifts! They are so fun.)
19. Favorite Christmas song? Oh dear! This question isn't fair... I have so many! To begin with the ridiculous... I love Baby, It's Cold Outside - not strictly Christmas, I suppose, but close enough. White Christmas and I'll be Home for Christmas are also dear to my heart. On a more solemn note, I love almost all the good old sacred carols... some of my favourites though are In the Bleak Midwinter, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, Of the Father's Love Begotten, Lo, how a rose e'er blooming, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, and things like The Coventry Carol and some of John Rutter's gorgeous choral carols.
20. Candy Canes-Yuck or Yum? I love peppermint, so I give them a "yum". It's hard to eat round the crook without getting sticky, though!
21. Favorite Christmas show? I don't really watch shows... but I think "White Christmas" is my favourite Christmas movie.
22. Saddest Christmas song? I'll be home for Christmas always makes me a little sad, but that's about it. (Well, some of the weird/corny newer songs make me sad... that anyone thought them worth recording!)
I'm keeping Rachel's added question, too:
What is your favourite Christmas book? There aren't lots that I've read, but I loved our beautifully illustrated copy of the poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas". I also love reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Christmas-time, and I love Connie Willis's collection of short stories about Christmas, Miracle.
This was fun! Have a happy Christmas, everyone :-)
I have had one of the longest semesters of my entire life (rivaled only, perhaps, by last spring) but I am happy to report that I have survived with my sanity and my GPA both still intact. I'm spending this next week in a friend's apartment before going home; I'm entirely alone, which I love -- nothing to do unless I want to do it, nothing to keep me from sleeping when and for how long I want. In celebration of this I went to bed at 6:30 last night.
That was probably the best thing I've done in weeks!
In other news, I found my camera charger (logically, in the front pocket of my camera bag, where I haven't been able to find it for three months) so hopefully I will soon have some pictures to share with you! I find I blog more regularly if I have photos to share.
In the mean time, I hope you all have a lovely day and a blessed third Sunday of Advent!