1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? I like both at this time of year – but hot cocoa is more of a “winter” treat, and eggnog is only available from Thanksgiving through Christmas, so I usually serve that as a special treat during this time. One year some friends surprised me with coffee with eggnog instead of cream for my birthday (which is this month). YUM.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Saint Nicholas comes on Dec. 6th (the night before, actually). On Christmas day, the stockings are from St. Nick, the presents are from whichever extended family we’re with. If we’re with my folks, there is usually a gift from Baby Jesus in there too. All gifts are wrapped.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I use purple and pink lights around the interior of the tree (which we plug in during Advent – and the kids put Advent ornaments that they make out of paper), and St. Nicholas or Baby Jesus put white or colored lights on the exterior (which we turn on during the Christmas season).
4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. We do a lot of kissing without it.
5. When do you put your decorations up? We put up our Nativity scene for Advent, and get a tree early so we can use it as our Advent tree too.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? That’s a tough one. I love turkey and all the trimmings, but I also love the traditional Christmas tamales my In-Laws make in October and save in the freezer until Dec. 25. If I could only choose one dish, I might go with mashed potatoes with lots of butter and good gravy. Or leftover turkey sandwiches with cranberry-orange sauce. Or refried beans. Or…
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Visiting my cousins in Mexico City and Santa Claus REALLY coming to Nona’s house and giving me a Raggedy Ann doll bigger than myself! I was amazed that Santa knew Spanish! Actually, I don’t know if it amazed me more that he knew Spanish or that he didn’t seem to know English.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don’t remember. I think I just eased into the knowledge that St. Nicholas has many helpers and I eventually became one of his helpers for my younger siblings.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? When we stay home for Christmas Day, we open one gift after Midnight Mass (usually something useful for our trip tp see family, like new pajamas). When we visit my family, we open everything in the morning. When we visit my husband’s family, we open presents after the reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve (Santa actually can be heard on the roof and seen running by the window) and then go to Mass in the morning. Presents from immediate family are exchanged on Epiphany.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? First, the kids help put on the purple & pink Advent lights. When they are in bed, St. Nicholas and Baby Jesus put white or colored lights on over those, but we only turn on the Advent lights until after Midnight Mass. During Advent, the kids make paper ornaments to put on the tree. When we leave for Midnight Mass, the angels must come and change all the paper ornaments for the colorful family ornaments we have collected through the years. Each of my 6 children receives a new ornament each year, and these are added also. So when we get back from Mass, the colored lights and ornaments are a beautiful surprise.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Love it, as long as we don’t have to go anywhere.
12. Can you ice skate? Not really. I haven’t tried since my body became a mother’s body. Not sure how it would go.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? An engagement ring from my sweet husband!
14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? To prepare my heart for Christ’s coming, as well as making great memories for my family that are rich with eternal truths.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? home made pumpkin pie with real whipped cream, rum balls that my Mom makes, and my Mother-In-Law’s bizcochitos.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Watching the wonder in the children’s eyes as they listen to “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and hear Santa on the roof, and visiting with family.
17. What tops your tree? We have a beautiful glass tree-topper brought from Russia by my brother-in-Law.
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving. I love thinking of what the person might like. I usually follow their wish list if I have one, but if I see the perfect gift or can make something they’d like, I do that instead, especially if money is tight.
19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Lo, How a Rose; What Child is This?; Hark the Herald Angels Sing; I really love most of them…
20. Candy canes: One per child on St. Nicholas Day. We sometimes use the tiny ones to decorate gifts for others.
21. Favorite Christmas movie? A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life
22. What do you leave for Santa? Cookies and milk or eggnog if we have it.