Favorite Christmas song(s): In the realm of extremely cheesy secular songs, I have always liked Because It's Christmas by Barry Manilow, Grown-Up Christmas List by Amy Grant, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. In the religious carols category, my favorites are God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, Oh Holy Night, Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant, Angels We Have Heard on High, and O Come All Ye Faithful.
Favorite Christmas movie(s): I love A Christmas Story. When I had TV, I used to watch it at least twice during the TBS marathon each year. I don't always watch it every year anymore, but we quote favorite lines around the house all year long, especially "Bumpuses!" and "A bowling ball" and "You look like a pink nightmare." I also have fond memories of watching Home Alone on TV with my sister on Thanksgiving night to kick off the holiday season.
Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch or Charlie Brown? Charlie Brown. It's the only one that reflects on the true religious meaning of Christmas, and I love the music.
Best and/or most memorable Christmas gift you ever received: One year (1990, maybe?) my parents swore up and down for months that there was no way they would allow us to have Nintendo. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would just never have it, and then on Christmas morning, there it was under the tree. And actually, my parents wound up playing it as much as we did! There was also the year that everyone bought each other the same electric knife. As a kid, I remember thinking that was just so unbelievable.
Real tree or artificial tree? I always had a real tree as a kid, and I was always sick on Christmas because I'm allergic to pine. I never wanted to switch to an artificial tree back then, but as an adult, I decided I wanted a fighting chance of not being sick and we bought a pre-lit artificial tree when we got married. And considering I haven't been sick on Christmas ever since, I don't think I would go back to a real one.
What tops your tree? Star? Angel? Bow? We have a colorful light-up tree topper. The shape is round-ish - not quite a circle, but definitely not a star.
Do you send out Christmas cards? Do you go photo card or traditional? Now that we have kids, we send photo cards, since most of our friends and family don't live nearby, and we want them to see the girls.
When did you stop believing in Santa? I was around ten, and my mom had to sit me down and tell me. I suppose I had some inkling deep down, but it threw me for a total loop, partly because she told me in the summer when I wasn't yet thinking about Christmas, and partly because I had believed for so long and really wanted to believe. But I'm thankful my parents didn't let me go to middle school still believing in Santa. I had enough social problems during those years!
Do you have any special Christmastime traditions? We are still building our traditions with the girls. This was our second year having a Jesse tree, and that has gone well, so I expect that will turn into a yearly tradition. We have also tried to read one Christmas book every day of Advent, which is something I want to continue and that I hope will get easier to maintain as the kids get older.
Do you have a favorite type of decoration -- snowmen, trees, Christmas village, etc.? I have a few pieces of a village, but no space to put it up. I keep saying that when I'm an old lady I will have a huge village that will just take over my entire house, but I think that probably sounds more fun than it actually is. My grandma always had a village when I was a kid, though, and I was obsessed with it. I think I mostly liked the idea of making up little stories about the people who might live in it. I also really like blinking lights, even though we don't have any.
Do you have any sentimental decorations or ornaments? My favorite ornament is one I have had since early childhood. It's a fuzzy white pig with a blue ribbon around his neck. There is no particular memory attached to him, but when we were teenagers, my sister and I started calling him "proud piggy" for some reason, and it stuck. To this day, when I text her a picture of him, she will reply with, "So proud, so proud." I guess it's not especially sentimental, but I like having an ornament that reminds me of all our past Christmases. I also have a special fondness for the Hallmark cat dressed as an angel because it is the only ornament that broke when the family Christmas tree fell on me in 1995. (It has since been glued back together.)
White lights or colored lights? Big old-fashioned lights or mini lights? I have always preferred colored lights for the tree (we don't decorate outdoors.) I like the look of the big old-fashioned ones, but so far, we have always had minis.
When do you start decorating for Christmas? When we first got married, we decorated on Thanksgiving, but now we have a daughter with a birthday around that time, so we push it back until somewhere in the first couple of weeks of December. This year, the tree went up on December 8 but the creche didn't come out until the 20th.
Favorite Christmas treat: My mom always used to bake chocolate cookies with white chips, and though I don't make them exactly the same way
Do you like sugar cookies? Gingerbread cookies? Of the two, I prefer sugar cookies, but I could live happily without both.
Do you have cocoa or hot chocolate? Do you like your warm chocolate-y beverage with marshmallows? I like hot chocolate with marshmallows.
What do you eat at your Christmas feast? Roast beef and yorkshire pudding.
Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve or do you wait until Christmas morning? We wait. In my mind, opening on Christmas Eve is cheating!
I didn't have good answers for Lindsay's final two questions, so I'm omitting those adding one of my own.
Favorite Christmas books: Since I was in high school, I have tried to read at least part of The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer every year at Christmas. It's a teen romance novel, but it's well-written and smart and funny, and it just makes me feel festive. I also love The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot, which is a picture book but can be enjoyed at any age, and The True Meaning of Christmas by Anne Fine, a middle grade novel which deals with family dysfunction in a hilarious way. I've also always loved the selections included in the Believe Christmas Treasury by Mary Engelbreit.