16 December 2006

Where do you go to buy a lottery ticket?

I won Krista's contest. This is getting crazy, folks. Really crazy. I never win anything. This is a well-known fact. Or was, until I entered blog land, and somehow now everything's changed. I can't explain it, but it does seem like a good time to buy a lottery ticket, doesn't it?

As always, I'm totally blown away by my fellow knitters' generosity. Krista is going to dye some sock yarn for me. Have you seen her etsy shop? This is one talented knitter, folks.

I need to get back to my chapter (which, I'm happy to say, is progressing well and is now right on the cusp of only needing basic clean-up: fixing footnotes, typos, unraveling bad sentences, inserting last-minute quotes, etc. Yahoo, people, yahoo!!)

So here's a seasonable meme. I saw this on the Yarn Liberation Front and My Fashionable Life.

Christmas Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Both. But the egg nog has to be really good egg nog, and preferably fortified. I’m much less picky about hot chocolate. If it’s got chocolate in it, I’m happy. During this particular season, I like to melt a candycane into it. I’ve been doing that since I was very little – I use the cane to stir the hot chocolate, until you realize the cane is all gone but for a little chunk still held between your fingers. I drop that in, and really enjoy the gooey peppermint lump you get at the bottom of the cup. This is the only way I’ll eat candy canes.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
When I was a kid, mom always put presents under the tree, as soon as the tree was up (the presents had very likely been bought and wrapped much earlier). We would stare at them as long as we could stand it, then wear down our parents until they agreed to let us open one present every night until “christmas.” (“Christmas” was an arbitrarily chosen day somewhere between the last day of school and New Year’s, according to the schedule involved in driving down to family events in Illinois and blizzard conditions. Effectively, “Christmas” was about three days after we talked the parents into letting us start opening presents). Sadly, we haven’t really been doing “christmas” at all lately. My husband and I live far from all family, and usually see each of his parents, my mom and my dad (who live in far distant states) once a year each. So we no longer make it to the big family gatherings, and presents are exchanged mostly by mail. It’s sad, and I hope won’t last much longer. Someday I hope we’ll have kids of our own, and be able to host a big “christmas” whereever we live.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I love little white lights outside, especially when they line a city street (or campus path). Indoors, I’m still nostalgic for the huge, old-fashioned multi-colored lights, but only because they're so evocative of my childhood. I think my mom now skips lights altogether and just puts all wooden or paper ornaments (red, white or wood colors only) on a mini-tree. I have to say it’s really gorgeous, even though I’m nostalgic for the huge, tacky tree of my childhood. Someday I’d like to decorate a tree entirely with vintage glass ornaments or something like that.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. Don’t really decorate ourselves at all lately. In any case, we don’t require excuses for kissy-kissy.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
We don’t. Like I said – sad. I used to have a box of xmas decorations of my own, but somehow most of them are now dispersed. Some got ruined in a sad mildew incident in my parents’ basement, some got lost in various moves, and some – like the Norwegian Nisse doll that my Norwegian host mother taught me to make from scratch and for which I knitted a tiny Icelandic sweater - are still in mom’s closet (mildew-free). I do plan to stop by one of the street corners where they sell xmas trees here in NYC and buy a pine bough. I like having the scent of fresh pine in the house this time of year, and it’s also time to put a giant pot of water with cinnamon and other spices in it – hydrates the air and smells divine.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Ummm….Chicago pizza, actually. At my mom’s extended family gathering (in the old days when I was a kid), there were too many people to cook for (though grandma did do this for Thanksgiving, cooking an elaborate meal for about 100 people is a bit too much to ask twice in a row). So on christmas all the families would bring some kind of appetizer and/or cookie (we brought gingerbread cookies), all of which would be laid out on a huge table all day, and after the presents were opened they’d order a bazillion pizzas from Aurelio’s. This is not Chicago deep-dish (which is also beyond wonderful), but Chicago suburban flat pizza. It’s essential that it be cut into squares. I always liked the corner pieces. There’s nothing else on earth like it. (And don’t even talk to me about that puddle of grease on a slab that they like to call “pizza” in NY. Crap. Utter CRAP. And as for “Chicago’s Uno’s Pizzeria”? It’s a chain – a fake. They don’t even have the classic Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas on the menu. The chain Uno’s is to the original Chicago Uno’s as TGIFriday’s is to Delmonico’s, okay?)

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
I’ll give you two: at home with my immediate family, it was opening the stocking-stuffers. I loved them best of all. They were always small, usually silly things, but I loved the surprise of not having any idea what would come next. The “real” christmas presents were usually some big thing that we’d been begging for all year, so not a big surprise, though exciting in its way. Second memory is at the big extended-family gathering: hanging out in the attic, at first, and in later years the basement with my cousins after the presents and the pizza were over, giggling so hard our stomachs hurt, and sending younger cousins down/up to fetch more cookies as needed. Bombarding unsuspecting adults with pillows whenever they invaded our territory. Building forts out of grandma’s orange furry futons. Oh wait – one more. Making the gingerbread cookies. Specifically, decorating them with frosting and sprinkles. Infinite fun – we always got carried away and made more cookies than even our family could possibly eat before they got stale.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don’t remember every believing in the Santa myth. I was a lot like the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street as she is at the beginning of the movie, though in my case it wasn’t my parents’ fault. I was just like that.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We always did it in the morning of whatever day had been designated “christmas.” But I like the idea of doing the gifts the night before, and having all of the holiday day to play with them, eat, and hang out. I might try to do it that way when we have kids someday.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
See above. My mom is saving the ornaments I made, though, to give to me later when I have a tree. I also like the idea of all the ornaments being hand-made by all the members of the family…

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
What snow? Haven’t seen it lately. I love it when it’s fresh, and anywhere outside of cities. I can’t stand it in New York, Chicago, or Moscow, though, when it turns into brown, urine-scented sludge.

12. Can you ice skate?
Sorta. I love to skate in Wollman rink in Central Park. It’s set in a kind of low part, surrounded by trees, and then surrounded outside that by the much higher buildings. I love skating there as the sun sets. Sadly, though, I only make it there about once or twice a year.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
That question makes me think of many, many wonderful exciting gifts I’ve gotten over the years. Childhood stand-outs include the Atari set, shared with my brother (I was great at Frogger, man). The first Cabbage Patch Kid, which my parents happen to have stumbled upon almost the moment came out, before the huge craze kicked in, so they managed to buy it without having to fight for it or anything. It was a red-headed girl doll named Alison Coral, who I carried around with me everywhere I went for several years. She still lives in my closet at mom’s house, with a broken toe and crayon on her face. Another great present was my roller-skates. I skated for hours and hours every day of every summer, on the smooth concrete of an unused boat dock near our house. More recently, I’ve gotten lots of lovely knitting-related items from Hubbster.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Most of the things I love about it are not happening lately – being with family, the warmth and comfort of the food, and decorations. The leisure time to do the things you love best with the people you love best. Seeing my whole, huge extended family all in one place. All the plotting and secrets that go into making your loved ones happy – for this reason, especially, I love the idea of hand-made gifts, or small, difficult-to-find or especially personal things. Nothing that’s merely expensive, or can be picked up at the nearest shopping mall. Those kind of gifts don’t seem fun to me. This year, and the past few, and probably the next few, are really not much more than a chance to have one whole precious weekend with no work and no guilt, to see one small bit of family and apologize to everyone else for not seeing them.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
This is easy. Much as I love almost every dessert every conceived, there are really only two xmas desserts that count. My grandma’s patented choc. chip cookies and home-made caramels. She has stopped making them in the last few years, but for about 30 years before that she made them faithfully every year, and for me christmas is still not quite christmas without them. I can replicate the cookies almost exactly now (after years of refining my technique), but not one of my dozens and dozens of cousins has managed to figure out the caramels.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I love everything about my family and the little, mostly silly things we do. I love the smells and warm sweaters and the music some of the more traditional music – hymns, classical, and jazz - when sung well, and many of the movies of the season. I love wrapping presents. I’m not so big on xmas in NYC. We usually only get around to ice skating after the new year, and to me that’s the only fun thing about winter in NYC. The weather is totally weird and hardly wintry (except the occasional days when it’s just ass-kicking cold out of nowhere). This year we’ll be in Georgia for the holidays, and that’s not terribly christmasy either. I much prefer Michigan or Illinois this time of year (of course I’m blocking out all the memories of being stuck on the highway in a blizzard). But I should say that, for me, it’s really a pagan holiday. I love the sights, and smells, and family traditions, and I love to celebrate the winter solstice and begin the countdown to spring. But for me, that’s something we can all celebrate together, and call it whatever we like. I’m really not big on the propaganda part of it, mainly because for as long as I can remember I’ve always found it incredibly hypocritical and commercialized. Those who really are filled with the Christian Christmas spirit don’t generally have to advertise themselves, or defend themselves against any “war on Christmas.” Just my view.

17. What tops your tree?
Don’t got one.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
I really love figuring out something just right for someone…and get terribly frustrated when I can’t think of anything personal enough or “right” enough. And of course I love receiving things, too, especially yarny things or books or DVDs. And my mom has the world’s best taste in clothes. I'm just beginning to get better about charity giving, this time of year and all the rest, too, thanks largely to the fine example and useful suggestions I've encountered in the knit blogging world.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
My favorite CDs to play at home on “christmas day” (whenever we decide that is) are Russian Romantic composers, especially Tchaikovsky. Sometimes Borodin. Kind of weird, but whatever. My dad started it, so you can blame him for the weirdness.

20. Candy Canes… Yuck or Yum?
See above. Just the traditional kind, and only in hot chocolate.


Carrie said...

Kate, I love your answers to this meme! Three comments:

1. NYC Pizza - I completely agree! In my experience NYers (native ones anyway) will talk your ear off about how great their brick oven, thin-crust pizza (plain cheese) is. Personally I hate it. Every time I've had it it's been a greasy mess, and usually burnt too (not just crispy, but really burnt). But then, I like "specialty" pizzas best - the red potato pizza with white sauce (ricotta) and spinach and broccoli from the fancy pizza place near where I went to college was the best. When my parents came to visit we always went there.

2. Snow in the big city - I agree with the ickiness that ensues after the fact (and I grew up in a relatively rural spot in NW CT, so I know about picturesque snow...) But, when it is happening (and you don't have to drive like me) it is divine. Were you around for the big blizzard last year? I think it was the only significant snowfall in the city (that I can remember) and it was lovely. My ex and I went to Chinatown from the UWS for dim sum. What an adventure! There was no vehicle traffic to speak of. It was a little like being transported back in time.

3. Skating in Central Park - You name the date and time and I will be there! I have only been here one winter, and ex was a jerk, so I haven't been able to go. I am rescuing my skates from my parents over Christmas. Invite a bunch of knitters and let's go!

Now I must hijack this meme for myself. :)

Anonymous said...

Cabbage Patch kids!!! I forgot about those. :)

I read your review of Dame on our podcast this week. :) Hope that's ok. :)

Marianne said...

Kate, I loved this post,nearly as much as I did the one about your childhood...the atari set, the cabbage patch dolls (my little GD Gracie calls them 'crappy badge babies'she's soon to be 4, she truly believes she's saying it correctly) and if I'm ever in the Chicago area...pizza is first on my list, and oh how I wish I could be part of the knitters ice skating bunch...having come from a small family the holidays were always fairly quiet and even with the kids growing up...we had some of our best times on Winter Solstice (raise'em on the pagan side, let them choose) and now...we gather christmas eve for my side of the family...as for DH's side...well....let me just say there's way too many very sandy vaginas that it's mostly unpleasant(plus they're trying to drag you through the sand also) and I won't be going (this is a maternal aunt and uncle and their whole branch of family) they are of the hypocritical and vulgar consumerism, all about the looks, image, etc....this year I'm putting my foot down and not going and for my gift to me...a quiet day at home casting on for some lace...with thoughts/prayers of peace on earth..and sending out love to all....that will be christmas day....

Kim said...

Never had it at Christmas but grew up on Aurelio's Pizza. You're right - think crust must be cut into squares. Man I miss that stuff!!! Happy holidays!

cookie said...

Chicago pizza, YUM. Except I like deep dish. I've seen this meme floating around, but whenever I think of answering the questions it just comes down to "we don't do anything for the holidays because we're horrible people." Or something like that.

The Purloined Letter said...

Congrats on the prizes! Tis the season!

Your holiday sounds like such lovely Christmas!

Robin said...

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I can totally agree with the Chicago pizza. I completely took it for granted until I tried it other places and it was either greasy or dry or too saucy. I'm with you on the corner pieces - they are almost more crust than pizza and that is great with a really good crust!

Merry Christmas!

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