Wednesday, 17 December 2008

X = Xmas

25 Things about Christmas
Bridgett and Lisa have done this, so having little imagination, I am following suit. I also cringe a little at using X for Xmas but I figure I can have a little leeway with only three letters left.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, though today I have just bought a gift bag for the first time, largely because I have a pair of murano glass ear-rings from Portofino, which come in their own pink velvet gold-inscribed bags, and would look silly wrapped up!

I like beautiful wrapping paper, but invariably baulk at the price!

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Artificial. I love the smell of real pine, but I have allergies ... sigh.

I’ve had my tree since the 1980s, and not having children it’s still in perfect condition.
I love my tree. It’s the only decoration I put up, and have lots of beloved decorations.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Usually around the second week in December. Whenever I feel the Christmas spirit.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Usually on or after the Twelfth night, when it feels as if the New Year is really starting.

5. Do you like eggnog?
No, I find it a bit sickly. Like mulled wine, it’s never really caught on in NZ, as at Christmas in the summer we tend to drink champagne or other long cool drinks.

6. Favourite gift received as a child?
Goodness, I can’t name one. Any gift was a treat, as we didn’t get things bought for us during the year. My sister and I always used to buy each other a book. A new book is always special.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
No-one really, except perhaps my husband. He’s hinting about a 32” flat screen TV, but he’s not getting it. He’s quite hard to buy for, as we tend to buy things as and when we need/want them (which sounds awfully indulgent).

I occasionally have “shopper’s block” but find I’m more likely to buy too many things for someone than too few. I’m a pretty good gift-buyer I have to say, as long as I’m not under pressure.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
My sister-in-law in Melbourne. We have similar taste, and love buying each other gifts, so I don’t really mind that her birthday is only 5 days before Christmas. She’s already said she’s so excited about the present she’s bought me that I’m feeling a little pressured. Though I think the French ceramic bracelet from Annecy in France will keep her happy!

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. That’s my task this afternoon. Though I do have a group of friends I met through the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust and I always email a Christmas message to them instead of buying and posting cards across the world, and donate the money I’ve saved to the Trust.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Hmmm. When I was about six, I got given a cloth doll, the body was an open pocket for putting pyjamas in. I unwrapped it and loudly declared “oh no a DOLL!” That was my most badly behaved reaction to a Christmas gift, the gift itself was sweet.

Otherwise worst gift was probably a piece of clothing from my mother-in-law. Our ideas of taste and style don't come even close to intersecting. Fortunately she doesn't do gifts now, as my husband and I were running out of excuses why things didn't fit etc.

12. Favourite Christmas Movie?
Don’t have one. Couldn't name any I don't think!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Depends. Frequently pick up one or two things quite early in the year, but then get swamped with “birthday season” in August and October. Usually start shopping in earnest in mid November.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Probably. Can’t recall.

15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?
My famous mini-mince pies. Mmmm yummmmm. I bought the ingredients yesterday, baking them tonight.

16. Lights on the tree?
Sometimes. Not this year. Anyway – it’s light until 9-10 pm over Christmas. No point.

17. Favourite Christmas song?
Depends on my mood. Always love Silent Night though – it brought me to tears hearing it sung on my first Christmas away from home, when I was 18 in Bangkok.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Varies. Tend to alternate Christmas between husbands' parents who live in the same city as us, and my mother who lives in the South Island.

Although I enjoy Christmas I’m not sentimental, so don’t mind being away from family. On Christmas Days in the past we have
a) spent the day in an aeroplane travelling somewhere far far away,
b) driven around Oahu in a red mustang convertible,
c) in consecutive years explored northern Thailand in a red Jeep with my parents then his parents, and
d) spent Christmas in Bangkok with friends, and
e) celebrated Christmas in Vienna complete with cooked goose.

This year we’re renting a house on a beach “up north” and will have my sister, her partner and niece there in the morning, and will just be the two of us in the afternoon.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Nope, not a hope.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? An angel from the Philippines.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
The Christmas Eve thing is a northern tradition I think. These days, with few children around us, we quite often wait till the afternoon of Christmas day.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Several annoying things.
Writing the Christmas cards and never quite finishing.
Covering work priorities before the summer close-down.
Mr Bean.
No kids or other peoples' kids.

23. Favourite ornament theme or colour?
I love most of my tree decorations ... with a passion! It's the closest thing I have to a collection. They are all so special to me, having collected most of them on my travels. I have lots from Thailand, where I started my obsession over different Christmas decorations. They include little red felt sequinned elephants – very Christmassy don’t you know? - and my favourite horn playing fat angels, and a Thai script "sawatdee bee mai" or happy new year. From Holland I have a pair of ice-skates – not very NZ Christmassy but so cute) - Vienna (wooden violins), the US (angel), Budapest (a baby in a walnut shell), Italy (cherub who looked remarkably like my best friends’ daughter when she was three), etc etc.

I buy a new decoration every year – I choose very carefully. This year I found a cute silvery bird, for $3.50!

As I said above, they all have special memories. I also have one I bought to remember my lost Christmas babies, but in reality, they all remind me of the children who will never see my beloved decorations.

24. Favourite for Christmas dinner?
My favourite Christmas dinner was when we had a whole salmon stuffed with herbs, wrapped in newspaper, baked in the oven. (You’re supposed to wet the newspaper before putting it in the oven – what with champagne, and guests, and chatting, I forgot. In the nick of time I remembered and as I pulled it from the oven, a wisp of smoke was rising from the corner of the paper ).

But otherwise I glaze a ham and have lots of yummy vegetables/salads, new potatoes, and always always fresh strawberries or raspberries with dessert, often Christmas pudding made by my mother-in-law.

25. What is your favourite thing about the holidays?
Summer. Knowing that Christmas day starts an 11 day summer break at least, and usually a relaxed and lazy January.


  1. This is like a written advent calendar (or do advent calendars only have 24 pieces of chocolate?). It's always been my wish to consume the contents of a traditional one all in one go, so this was fun. Just a few questions or comments:
    - The tree in perfect condition: How is this possible with cats?
    - Worst present: On the radio someone was saying it was a tire. His parents always bought their kids the same present to avoid accusations of favouritism, so one Christmas the parents bought each sibling one tire.
    Ornaments: I do the same thing (buying one a year). This year I was at an Indian bazaar and bought a red velvet sequinned camel. It would probably get along well with your elephant.
    - You've never regifted anything???!
    - A warm Christmas is unthinkable to me, but enjoy yours!

  2. Oh, one last thing--what is your next blogging project? It looks like you will be reaching Z on both of yours soon...

  3. the cat question again.

    Otherwise--this is such a neat glimpse into a different sort of Christmas. I've asked Mrs. Slocombe about this before--him especially because he started in England--how odd it must be to have summer at Christmas. But then I think about the dusting of snow outside and scraping my windows to take the girls to school this morning before Christmas break begins...and I think maybe, that would be really quite nice. Shopping in our equivalent of June instead of December?? Sign.

  4. I totally enjoyed reading this. And I've been thinking of you and Mrs. S a lot lately, thinking of how different this holiday is for you than for northern North Americans!

  5. Helen:
    Good idea about the chocolate all at one go!
    Cleo and Gershwin are very well behaved. They occasionally take a decoration off. But that's it.
    I LOVE the tire story ... except here we spell it tyre.
    I actually have a red felt sequinned camel too. Not posh and velvet like yours though.
    I'll decide over Christmas what my next blogging project is. Think I'll continue travelalphablog though.

    Everyone: Christmas isn't Christmas to me without the smell of summer.

    Merry Christmas all. We're off tomorrow morning on an 8 hour drive to a northern beach.

  6. Mali in a bikini on Christmas Day?

  7. Mali, are you still there?

  8. I loved reading that post -- even if I read it several days after Christmas.


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