I have been enjoying a slow, sweet acquaintance with fellow Oklahoma runner and blogger Tara over at Run and Live Happy. She has a beloved dog named Jake and a new horse, too, so… Oh! And also she wears Brooks shoes. xoxo
Tara just posted a Christmas Survey that was fun to read, and it got me thinking of so many stories I’ve been wanting to tell you guys anyway. So a survey it is. Happy Thursday to us, and Merry Christmas Tara!
Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve? Haha, traditionally we have always opened one gift on Christmas Eve, and it is traditionally cozy new pajamas. Maybe one extra little something. This is something my parents started when I was pretty young (long before there were five siblings), and I happily carried it over to my girls. But this year our Christmas came almost two weeks early when Jocelyn surprised us with a visit home! She opened all of her gifts then (that’s a whole happy memory right there).
As for Christmas weekend 2016, my baby sister will be spending much of it with us at the farm, so Handsome and I have been trading our gifts here and there already. Saturday and Sunday will be all about cuddling and a glowing fireplace and staying up late talking, with a happy, hefty dose of visiting family in OKC and trading gifts there.
Is your Christmas tree real or fake? Haha, another departure this year! Normally we put up and decorate a real tree. But this year after a little time in Colorado to preview the season, I had a strong craving to keep a tree up all winter long, all the way until March probably, so an artificial tree was a smarter choice. I did embellish it with lots of natural branches, though, from all over the farm. To be clear, it won’t be “Christmassy” until March, just wintry. Ok.
Do you like tinsel? Yeeeeep. Love it! But I like the skinny thread-like tinsel more than the fluffy rope-like tinsel garland, you know? Handsome likes both. The shinier and more shimmery the better. I like anything metallic, really. Disco balls. Glitter. Mirrors. Those things mixed with natural stuff. Metals and textiles, yarns and rust, branches, all of it, especially if it’s more or less in the same color family. Yes please. Ok.
What is on top of your tree? Some clippings from my garden, in a spray shape. I think it’s a mix of boxwood and euonymous. On the adjacent wall I hung a rusted metal star and a yarn “snowflake” in macrame, which I have been trying like crazy to duplicate, because aren’t they cool?
We have a special foil star our little family has used for sixteen years, but too much nostalgia is painful for us right now, so we have consciously chosen to limit our exposure to it. Christmas is supposed to be joyful, and we cling to that for each other. We choose it, and we have been rewarded for the choice over and over. We will bring that foil star back out when the time is right. xoxo
What is your favorite Christmas movie? I love Elf so much! I also love Four Christmases. Hard to beat Robert Duvall worrying about sexual predators installing his satellite, you know? Plus all of Vince Vaughn’s vomiting. I also love a great version of The Christmas Carol. Lately my favorite is the Patrick Stewart effort. Gorgeous.
Who is your favorite character from any Christmas movie? Clark Griswold (sorry-not sorry). His painful, stubborn, glorious optimism. His need for a spectacle. His simmering rage and blinders-on intensity. I identify with every bit of it. And at this exact moment I finally understand why my husband loves that movie so much. Hm.
Do you like eggnog or cider? Neither, really. I don’t drink alcohol, so plain eggnog might as well be a milkshake. Or a banana split, actually. And to me cider feels like Halloween. Give me perfect coffee every day of the year. Or chamomile tea if it’s bedtime. Maaaayyyybe some hot chocolate.
Red or Green? Green, if we have to choose. But some fun shades of green, something different. With black and white and gold everywhere. (And throw in a little cranberry red, ha. It’s Christmas! We shouldn’t have to choose.)
Ham or turkey? Turkey, but really we have been evolving away from this big meal and enjoy it instead at Thanksgiving. Before my husband’s mother passed she had started a fun tradition of serving an Oklahoma-style crab boil at either Christmas or New Year’s Eve, and one day we will get back to that ourselves. (See above about too much nostalgia.) Our Christmas foods now are lots of handmade cookies and candies, baked breads, trays of meats and cheese (various ones: name that movie), crackers, olives, etcetera. We like it casual and relaxing.
Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both! Everything. Add doilies, crocheted yarn strands (because finger-knitting is a mystery to me), tassels, paper snowflakes, a small toy or package of candy, anything I can get my hands on. Layers. Ok.
Do you drive around and look at Christmas lights? Yes! As soon as they start popping up around town and beyond, we are driving around admiring them. We play scavenger hunts, take hot cocoa sometimes, listen to music, the whole shebang. We love to go with friends. We took our dog Klaus this year, but he was largely unimpressed.
If you explore downtown OKC, you cannot miss the chance to drive up and down Broadway. Automobile Alley is a glittering wonderland! Solid walls of Vegas-worthy lights. I love it.
What’s the best gift you have ever gotten? This is where I feel like Steve Martin in that classic SNL skit from the 70’s, the one where he is sitting in an armchair waxing poetic about his altruistic Christmas wishes, ranging from solving world hunger to healing all sick children and ending war… Then his mind wanders not subtly to much more hedonistic cravings. Because- both are true, right?
I once received a small brown paper bag from my youngest daughter, labelled with her own beautiful cursive, “brown paper packages tied up with string” and containing an embroidered handkerchief she had made for me. I loved it and still treasure both the gift and the bag! That was many years ago. This year my oldest daughter spent so much of her limited vacation time here at the farm, during that surprise trip from Colorado, and how can she know how much it meant to me? How can she know how long it will echo in my heart that moment when she sat on the couch and scooped me to her and said, “Sit here, let’s cuddle!”
Then. A few days later my husband nonchalantly invited me to look under the tree for anything still bearing my name (remember we’d been trading little gifts all week). I found one and opened it happily and just about fainted.
Do you put Christmas lights on the outside of your house? Yes! Every year. My husband always does this and I love him even more for it. This year he obliged my wish for strands of lights wrapped around my gigantic metal rooster statue, which I had just moved to the front door sidewalk. It. Is. GLORIOUS.
Do you hang up a stocking? We do for the kids if they are here and for Klaus, our pup. Mostly edibles and small treats. I love my Mom’s tradition of filling our stockings with giant apples and oranges plus whole nuts, in the shell. Love that!
Where do you usually spend your holiday? Every year, in fact every holiday, our life is a chaotic mix of destinations and blended schedules with dozens of moving parts. Less so now than before, but we still are blessed with lots of friends and family, so we stay flexible and avoid anything that makes us feel more obligated than joyful. We believe any big holiday can last all month long (it really has this year), and as long as we are together we are pretty dang happy.
What is your favorite Christmas song? Sting has an incredible Christmas album. My favorite song on it is If On a Winter’s Night. Go listen. xoxo
Do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better? Please refer to my Steve Martin story. Because I would normally say GIVE! And then I would open a Garmin Forerunner 35. So.
When do you start getting excited about Christmas? Honestly? Around the middle of September. The older I get the better I adjust my energy and organization, so the more I enjoy all of it. By Thanksgiving I am already worrying the next month will go by too fast.
That was so fun, thanks Tara! I am signing off now to put the finishing touches on chicken tortilla soup for my baby sister who should arrive any time. She requested it. We are having cranberry-almond biscotti and browned-butter pecan sandies for dessert.
Merry Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve, friends! Go make some memories.
“Are you surprised to see us, Clark?
Eddie, if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet
I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”