I picked this survey up on a discussion group and thought I'd use it as a starter for today's entry.
What is the best part of Christmas for you?
I am not sure how to answer this. I'm at an interesting point in my life... I'm trying to redefine my Christmas experience. It's become so cultural! Even talking about "the reason for the season" is cultural. I hate it, and this year everything seemed very artificial to me.
Now that I've said that, I think my favorite part of that culture is music. Not the traditional carols--I often get tired of those too unless I hear a moving arrangement. I've recently started a sort of unofficial collection of "new" Christmas music: songs that talk about the events surrounding Christ's birth and the significance of the Christmas celebration. I enjoy hunting for new songs, and I also love choir music.
What Christmas traditions do you hold dear?
I can't even answer this one anymore. All of the traditions I loved most about Christmas are no longer possible. I have to create new traditions. Even if I lived near my family, there would be nothing familiar about Christmas. The only thing traditional about this Christmas for me was the fact that I baked a lot of food. I enjoy baking, and I like having a reason to do it.
One thing I've always wanted to do is find a place that has a community performance of Handel's Messiah that I could sing in. I only participated in this once, and I loved it.
Who will you share your Christmas with?
This year, I shared it with Christy and Deedra. And, of course, lots of animals. Someday I want to have a Christmas gathering with friends and music and food and good conversations. I don't want gift giving to be a big event. I want it to be a quiet thing. I think it was a quiet thing when people gave their gifts to Christ. (Why do we give each other gifts on Christmas anyway?)
Did you attend a Christmas church service?
I wish I had found one--or at least done something at home. Realistically, I was probably too sick to be going anywhere. But I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't do anything significant for Christmas.
Hmmmm... Why am I ashamed? Because people will think I didn't care? And why didn't I do anything for Christmas? I honestly think part of me was silently rebelling against culture.
What is your favorite Christmas carol?
I think "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem". I've already stated my general feelings about Christmas carols above, but this one I like. I especially like the line, "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."
What is your favorite Scripture verse relating to Christmas?
"Those who walk in darkness have seen a great light..."
And Mary "pondered these things in her heart."
Are you hoping for a "white Christmas?"?
That's part of what made Christmas seem so strange this year. It wasn't even chilly! (See, there's that culture again!)
What are your favorite Christmas images?
I just like angels in general, although I really wish I knew what they had looked like when they appeared. I'm sure they didn't have songbooks! :) I'd like to find an angel that is the ultimate expression of praise... But I don't think man could ever come close to capturing that!
What are your favorite Christmas "treats?"
Fudge, pie, apple cider, snickerdoodles.
Who did you visit during the Christmas season?
I stayed home. In a way, that was good. I don't like obligatory family gatherings. There is no meaning for me in gathering simply because we share the same genetic make-up. Mom thinks it's horrible when I say things like this. But I have a very hard time with acting like a big happy close-knit family when the truth is that when Christmas is over we hardly speak to each other. That's not how I want to spend my most significant spiritual and emotional moments.
Who visited you during the Christmas season?
No one, and that's hard to write because there are people I wish very much to spend Christmas with.
How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa?
I don't recall ever believing in Santa. Of course, it probably helped that we didn't have a fireplace (and hence not a chimney) when I was a little girl. We continued the tradition of filling stockings, though--it was just a fun thing.
What gifts or items did you receive?
The most notable this year were a CD, "The Best of Charlotte Church," and a tool set. The reason this was significant is that I felt like my parents really heard me and recognized my attempt at becoming my own self. I had said when they were here over Thanksgiving that I wanted my own tools even though Christy has some. I never thought they would actually get me some.
When did you start your Christmas shopping?
I'm doing it late because I finally have money.
What stereotypes bother you most relating to how people understand Christmas?
The idea that you have to have a huge family party and pretend your extended family are the closest people in your life.
If you could make non-Christians understand one thing about the truth of Christmas, what would it be?
That just as Mary brought the physical Saviour into the world, we share the responsibility to bring the knowledge of him to the world today, that God will meet us where we are and He is not Someone we should be afraid of.
When does your family traditionally open gifts?
We always opened on Christmas Eve. We were supposed to wait until it got dark, and there was always a reading of the Christmas story. Christmas Eve activities have changed in my family since I went away to college. That was a long time ago, and now there is hustle and bustle, rushing around so as not to be late for church (which feels like just a routine most of the time), and we don't read the Christmas story. Sometimes I wonder where Christ is.
At what time do you traditionally eat Christmas dinner?
Usually early afternoon. This year we ate around 2:00. Of course, dessert lasts all afternoon.
What do you usually eat for Christmas dinner?
Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, spoon bread... This year that's what we had. I would have liked to have mashed potatoes and a fruit salad. For dessert we had cookies. I wanted to make pie and lemon bars, but I didn't feel up to it.
What is your fondest memory of Christmas from childhood?
Spending Christmas Eve with Granny and Gramps.
What are your favorite Christmas stories, cartoons and movies?
I once watched a movie called, "The Little Match Girl". I'd like to watch it again. I also like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.