Chain letters. Remember those? It’s like being held for ransom. “Do whatever we say in this letter or someone will die!” And as proof they mention some former general in the Philippines who met his untimely demise because he failed to keep the chain going.
These days we get them by email, of course, and usually it says something like: “Forward all your personal information to me and 300 of your closest friends. It will be fun and you’ll probably get a check for a million bucks in the mail, like the friend of my cousin’s auto mechanic did. And if you don’t then a random retired general in the Philippines will surely die.”
So, when I got a holiday “survey” from one of my co-workers (who shall remain nameless), my first reaction was to delete it but then I thought: Hey! This might be just the kind of thing to use in my blog!
So here is my plagiarized and tweaked version of the holiday survey, with my answers included. Feel free to answer these questions – or not. If you do, and want to send me your answers, great! I’ll probably even read ‘em and it’ll give us a chance to get to know each other a little better and, who knows, we might just save the life of a former general in the Philippines!
One more thing. If my responses sound, oh, pathetic, that’s because they are BUT if they sound like I must be horribly miserable and lonely, I’m not. When my kids were growing up we had a TON of traditions. My answers would have looked completely different ten years ago! These days it’s a little different but I still love the holiday and especially love hanging with my family. It just may not seem like it from my answers . . .
1. Real tree, artificial tree, menorah or other?
* No tree. It’s just me and Rudy. I don’t need the hassle and she doesn’t need the extra fiber.
2. Favorite ornament or decoration?
* Well, uh, I know this will come as no surprise from a guy who likes Broadway musicals but I have this “Dickens Village” with a church and house and people and snow and stuff. It even lights up. That’s my favorite.
3. When do you put up the decorations?
* Never. Even the Dickens Village stuff is still in a box in the garage.
4. When do you take down the decorations?
* Uh, were you not paying attention? If I don’t put any up, I don’t have to take any down!
5. Christmas cards by mail or e-mail?
* None of the above. I’m a hermit. And a Scrooge. We don’t send out Christmas cards.
6. When do you start your holiday shopping?
* Around Thanksgiving. This year I pretty much did it all by shopping on Amazon from my recliner on Thanksgiving evening. All the Black Friday deals from the comfort of my own home.
7. Hardest person to buy for?
* These days I pretty much just buy gifts for my kids and their spouse / significant others AND my parents. I have fallen into a routine of buying each kid a book, a DVD, something weird they didn’t ask for but that I think they might like / want and a bunch of random stuff like gift cards and stuff. For my parents, it’s usually a bag of M&Ms for my Mom and a can of peanuts for me Dad. Okay, I usually get them something else – a bit nicer too. So, that leaves Rudy who I usually forget to get anything for – just like I forgot to mention her until now. This year I’m thinking maybe some doggy valium.
8. Easiest person to buy for?
* Me. I know what I like and usually can’t wait for a holiday or birthday to get it. Makes it tough for everyone else though!
9. Are you a regifter?
* Uh, me? No, never! Well, uh maybe, sometimes. But only if it’s something really cool. Or something I wanna get rid of. Or something that’s lying around the house. Other than that, never!
10. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
* I’ve decided I am done with wrapping paper. If I have gift bags I’ll use ‘em. If not, I think I’m now old enough that I can start blaming my lack of wrapping skills on senility. “Yeah, I was gonna wrap it but, well, I couldn’t remember how to fold it so the edges kinda look like an envelope. I forgot everything I learned in Origami class, I guess. So, I hope you don’t mind that I just used an old Glad® lawnmower clippings bag . . .”
11. Favorite gift received as a child?
* No question! The James Bond 007 Attaché Case! It had everything an MI-6 agent could want! A “Rugged Molded Leather Grain Fitted Case With Plated Locks and Hardware.” Although, “Truth in Advertising” was not as important back then cuz what I remember was more like “Easily Cracked Plastic Case with Plastic Locks and Plasticware.” BUT it also had a pistol, with a silencer, which could be converted into a sniper rifle, along with REAL PLASTIC bullets with a hidden plastic dagger, fake passport and a code book. The Aston Martin and the Bond Babe were apparently extra and my parents we too cheap to get them for me. (And if you’re looking for the perfect gift for me, I found it on eBay for only $1,495!)
12. Weirdest gift ever received?
* A baseball mitt. I know that isn’t really all that weird but it was a gift from my Dad. Not my Mom and Dad. Not Santa. Just my Dad. Like my Dad, I was am totally un-athletic. I never went out for sports and my parents never once encouraged me to go out for a sport. I thought: “Well maybe he wants to play catch sometime.” Never came up. Not once. Never said anything about why he gave it to me. I asked him about it a couple of years ago and he had no recollection of it. My best guess is that he got it free and gave it to me just cuz he didn’t know what else to do with it. (If this sounds sad, it’s not. If it sounds pathetic, well, you were warned.)
13. Favorite holiday food?
* This is a tough one. Three things come to mind. My Mom, always a culinary maven, used to make a fruit salad by using a couple of cans of fruit cocktail mixed with whipping cream. What kid wouldn’t like that, huh? When I was married we always had this really great, spicy minestrone soup (more like a stew, really) on Christmas Eve. Oh man I loved that. Nancy got the recipe in the divorce. My new tradition (and new favorite holiday food) is having Dungeness crab, a baguette and (of course) beer for a Christmas Eve meal.
14. Favorite holiday drink?
15. Favorite Christmas song?
* This is kinda tough. I have always loved holiday music. And every year I buy more. And every year I torture the fine people I work with by playing it too loudly. I don’t think I can pick just one but here’s a few standouts:
* Three Kings by Miles Davis
* Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteen
* I Bought You a Plastic Star for Your Aluminum Christmas Tree by Michael Franks
* Santa’s Comin’ To Town by the Sounds of Blackness
* Baby It’s Cold Outside by James Taylor and Natalie Cole
* Hallelujah from Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration by Take 6 and a bunch of other folks
* Jingle Bell Rock by Geoff Moore and The Distance.
16. Favorite holiday movie?
* White Christmas. No question about it. Although I love A Christmas Story and A Muppet Christmas Carol (if for no other reason than the line: “Light the lamp, not the rat! Light the lamp, not the rat!”)
17. Travel or stay home at Christmas?
* Stay home! I hate having to go anywhere on Christmas. Bah humbug!
18. Open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
* One present on Christmas Eve – kid selected by parent approved (just in case they choose something too big a deal to open on Christmas Eve). Everything else, including stockings, must wait until Christmas morning. (As required by Oregon state law – ORS.12.25)
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
* Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Stupid, Tiger and Leviticus. And Rudolph Giuliani
Let me conclude by passing along my favorite holiday greeting from this year, from Michelle Obama:
"On behalf of the President, Malia, Sasha, Bo and Grandma, we wish everybody a happy holidays, Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, anybody who's out there celebrating anything: Happy!"
So, there you have it. On behalf of the Obama’s and myself: Happy!