Pauline at http://cassmob.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/deck-the-halls-2012-christmas-geneameme/has set a new challenge for Christmas. Click on the link, if you would like to join in - contributions by December 16th,
THE 2012 CHRISTMAS GENEAMEME
1. Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family?
Nothing very distinctive Customs have changed and evolved as our daughter got older. We always have a tree, Christmas stockings (home made) for small gifts, decorate the house, enjoy carols and have something that bit different to eat.
- Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day?
I can't say we go every year, but it is part of Christmas to go to either the Service of Nine Lessons & Carols or on Christmas Day morning.
- Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?
My brother and I as children believed in Santa and now we have the pleasure of seeing our little granddaughter enjoy the experience of "writing" to Santa and leaving out food & drink for the reindeer. At just 4, she is at a gorgeous age for the Santa theme.
- Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?I have in the past when a group of us from church went around local care homes singing carols and encouraging everyone to join in - followed by a chance to chat and enjoy shortbread, mince pies, tea and even sometimes sherry!
- What’s your favourite Christmas music?Where to start! Traditional carols. My musical highlight was a few years ago in December when I was one of over a 1000 singers, plus orchestra and organ in a "Come and Sing" performance of Handel's "The Messiah" in the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London - an exhilarating. moving and unforgettable experience, with singers from all over Britain and Europe and in front of a packed 4000 audience. I was on a high, walking back to our hotel.
- What’s your favourite Christmas carol?
"Silent Night"- in a simple unadorned arrangement, like the original with guitar accompaniment. Beautiful harmony and very moving sung softly, especially in German which reminds us of favourite holidays in Bavaria and Austria. Other favourites - "In the Bleak Mid Winter", "Three Kings from Distant Lands Afar" and "O Holy Night". As a local choir member until recently, carols are a key element in my Christmas. I love the descants of the standard choral classics such as "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", and find it so uplifting as the sopranos soar up to the high notes. We always ended the concert with a lively rendition of "We wish you a Merry Christmas" followed by the serving of mince pies and mulled wine to complete one of my "must do" Christmas activities and a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.
- Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read?A DVD of the ballet "Nutcracker" in a magical production by the Royal Ballet - plus any other classical ballet. Also "Love Actually", and "Sound of Music" which again reminds us of holidays. My husband's "must watch" favourites are - "Christmas Carol" (Alistair Sim version) and "White Christmas" and "Holiday Inn".
- Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for little only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?We are only a small family, with both sets of parents no longer alive and we have always bought individual presents, though not gone over the top with these. Neil and I have most things that we want - there is a limit to how many socks a husband needs - and we now exchange small fun personal gifts, but treat ourselves to something special e.g. theatre visit to Edinburgh, weekend break hi-fi, lap top computer.
- Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?
This is Scotland, so definitely indoors! Either at home or at our daughter's.
- What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal?
For me turkey with all the trimmings but I am used to having to cater for my vegetarian husband (and mother in law).
- Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas?
I like to do something different from the usual run of the mill meals throughout the year. We must have "kilted sausages" (chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon) and for dessert I often do a cranberry and orange compote, served with meringue.
- Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?
No. Christmas pudding after a heavy first course on Christmas Day never appeals and I tend to reserve it for another day in the holiday season, best served with stewed apple. Bought - not made.
- Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?
I like Io do something different for breakfast e.g. warmed croissants. Last year I followed a recipe for a luxury breakfast sundae with muesli, raspberries and yoghurt, prepared the night before - delicious but a bit too filling in view of the Christmas meal to come, not forgetting munching on chocolates in my stocking.
- Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?
Yes - I think it is a lovely touch and in turn I have enjoyed receiving home baking, especially when I was working full time. My daughter appreciated a hamper of home made soup, crumbles, cottage pie and lasagne for the freezer when she was just home with a new baby. When she was little (and money was short), I made felt or knitted toys, collage nursery pictures for her bedroom and rooms out of shoeboxes to create a doll's house. This year our little granddaughter wanted a bed for her favourite "White Ted" (no longer very white!) so already wrapped up for Ted is a crochet blanket and a pillow & quilt. The gift of time and tasks is also one full of pleasure - my daughter has taken me on shopping trips to places I could not get to easily and I have done household tasks for her - the fun comes is in composing a voucher for the task, so there is still a surprise to open on Christmas Day.
- Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa?
With both sets of parents no longer alive, Christmas is either at our house or our daughter's.
- Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?
Broadly very similar with its emphasis on get-togethers with families and friends, modest gifts, carols and family entertainment.
- How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings?
It's a great excuse to meet in December/early January for coffee or a meal.
- Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?
Christmas tree in the hallway, visible from the road - nothing outside.
- Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?
Christmas illuminations outside the house (aka the film "Christmas Vacation" ) has not reached our neighbourhood yet, though most town centres have some feature lighting to add to the Christmas spirit of shoppers.
- Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?
Yes - an important part of Christmas. Either in church, at schools, at local choir concerts. On Christmas Eve, it is time to watch on TV the candlelight carol service from Kings College, Cambridge - something not to be missed.
- Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)?
You are right - very unlikely here in Scotland, though some hardy souls have a tradition of "winter dipping" in the sea or river on New Year's Day. Crazy!
- Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?
At home. going away has never appealed - and there is always the worry that the main roads across the hills could be blocked by snow, so we would not want to travel anyway. And you have to stock up the freezer, anyway, just in case you do end up at home.
- Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?
Yes and it is has been snowing this week as I have typed this.
- Do you have a Christmas tree every year?
Always. It would not be Christmas without one.
- Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?
I had enough of sweeping up pine needles off the carpet so we went onto an artificial tree - traditional style, no modern, minimalist designer trees here.
- Do you have special Xmas tree decorations?
Yes. It is a Tree of Happy Memories with decorations collected over many years, many from holidays abroad, so it is always a delight to get the boxes down from the loft, discover the ornaments again and relive where and when we got them. The themes - bells, baubles, stockings and musical instruments.
- Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving?
With no Thanksgiving Day here, i can only compare Christmas to New Year - and Christmas wins hands down! Although I live in Scotland, I can't get enthusiastic about Hogmanay.