December 21, 2001
The Twelve Bullet Points of Christmas

Usually I ignore these holiday quiz things whenever they land in my mailbox, but I'm making an exception today. (Read this: Daughter #1 sent me the quizz, so I am under some maternal obligation to respond ... I spent my entire lunch hour today making photocopies of gradation test results, so I wasn't able to compose anything suitably morose for tonight's *FootNotes* entry ... and I don't have any canned entries stockpiled at the moment.)

Plus: we all know how much I love those bullet points.


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  • Martha Stewart or Ebeneezer Scrooge?  

    If you're asking me which of the two I would prefer to see dipped in melted paraffin, rolled in crushed Corn Flakes and hot-glued to the rear bumper of the Subaru, I believe the answer is obvious. If you're asking me which of the two I identify with the most strongly, this holiday season ...

    ... I think the answer is still obvious.

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  • Naughty or nice this year? 

    That probably depends on who you ask:

    • Ludmilla: "She wore dirty athletic shoes in my Ultra Snooty Bridal Shop."
    • The Fourth-Floor Testosterone Units: "We miss that middle button on her sweater."
    • God: "I dunno. I never hear from her anymore."
    • Bev: "Hey ... she paid for lunch, OK?"
    • Ю僱êrvØ¡ "Actually, she was a little bit of both on our honeymoon."

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  • Ginger or Mary Ann at your Christmas dinner table?  

    Can I have The Mosquitos instead?

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  • Favorite/ least-favorite Christmas memory?  

    It's probably easier to tell you about the worst memory: Christmas 1997, the year I ran away from home. It was my first Christmas away from the Tots, ever -- this year will be the second -- and I was feeling predictably guilty and homesick and sorry for myself. To make things worse, The Oregon Boyfiend had eaten a tainted Big Mac the night before, and he became violently ill somewhere around 3 a.m.  I woke up on Christmas morning to the sound of him vomiting two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and sesame seed bun next to me in the bed, all over the new plaid flannel comforter. I spent Christmas Day driving back and forth to the only open 7-11 in Gladstone, Oregon, buying The Boyfiend saltines and Gatorade and canned chicken soup. While I was there, I bought a Swanson's Frozen Turkey Dinner and a box of ice cream bon-bons.

    That was Christmas dinner.

    A favorite Christmas memory, on the other hand, would probably be any of the Tot Christmases. I enjoyed those even more than my own childhood Christmases, I think. I'm sure it had something to do with the incredible sense of power a mother wields over a group of small pajama-clad children who will do anything/say anything/eat anything for breakfast if they can just open their presents now ...

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  • Christmas tree tinsel: Stringer or Clumper?

    I am a careful, meticulous, single-strand-to-a-branch Tinsel Stringer from wayyyyyy back. ( I am as AR/OC about tinsel as I am about applying all 43,897,621 individual coats of Great Lash Brownish/Black Mascara every morning.)  And woe be unto he -- or she -- who dares to *clump* in my presence.

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  • Best/worst Christmas present ever received? 

    Somebody gave my ex-husband an ashtray shaped like a toilet, one year. They didn't give it to me, directly, but I had to live with the hideous thing plunked in the middle of my coffee table for the next few weeks,  and that was pretty much just as bad.

    The best Christmas present I ever received was a doll family from "Santa," the Christmas I was eight years old. I spotted the doll family in that year's Sears Wish Book  ...  two adorable sister dolls and a baby brother doll, all dressed in matching pink-gingham nightgowns: the baby brother had his own lace-trimmed bassinet  ...  and I fell in love with them immediately. I dreamed of nothing but those dolls for weeks. So waking up Christmas morning and finding my little doll family waiting for me under the tree was one of the best moments of Young Secrahood.

    I loved them so much, in fact, that I grew up and gave birth to them for real.

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  • Favorite/ least-favorite Christmas song? 

    If you're talking about traditional Christmas carols -- the carols we all grew up mouthing the words to in Sunday School (or, for those of you who embrace other faiths, the carols you grew up listening to in elevators) -- the one that reduces me to a quivering, weeping puddle of sentimental goo instantly is the majestic "O Holy Night."

    If, on the other hand, you're talking about not-so-traditional fun holiday twaddle, it has to be Elton John's "Step Into Christmas," which absolutely floods me with intense, insane, ridiculous joy, every time I hear it.

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  • Charlie Brown or How The Grinch Stole Christmas? 

    Actually I'm a Rudolph girl, all the way.

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  • Eggnog or wassail? 

    Neither. Eggnog tastes like phlegm, as far as I'm concerned ... and I don't even know what wassail IS. My holiday poison of choice during the Drunk & Dysfunctional Years was always hot spiced wine. I used to buy the biggest jug of red wine I could find, dump it into a crockpot with a packet of store-bought spiced wine mix and a few orange slices, and let it simmer. The whole house smelled like cloves and sugar and cheap red Almaden. The only thing I didn't like about hot spiced wine is that I couldn't get drunk on it. I could drink gallons of the stuff -- and I did drink gallons of the stuff, for days at a time -- but the most I ever managed to achieve was a sort of boozy/sleepy/stoopid sugar-glow. Maybe that's why I didn't bother drinking it year-round.

    These days it's all about Hansen's Natural Soda. It doesn't make the whole house smell festive ... but I'm less likely to fall asleep in the middle of anything important.

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  • Gingerbread or fruitcake?  

    Grandma Vert -- it's always about my grandmothers at Christmas, isn't it? -- used to make gingerbread from scratch at Christmas. This was a Very Big Deal, year after year, and we were always required to make a big fuss over how delicious it was, and how special and wonderful and incredible it was, and how we wished we could have her gingerbread every day oh boy! ... but the truth is that Grandma's gingerbread never tasted quite *right.* It was always sort of bland and doughy and uninspired, at least compared to the Duncan Hines boxed-mix variety that Anita Brown's mom used to bake. Still, we never wanted to hurt Grandma's feelings, so my little brother and I just piled on lots of runny homemade whipping cream, and we choked down the gingerbread with as much feigned enthusiasm as possible, and then we asked to be excused from the table and we went outside and we beat each other up some more.

    Fortunately Grandma never attempted fruitcake.

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  • Candy canes or popcorn balls? 

    I'm fine with either, really ... as long as they're dipped in melted Dove Chocolate, rolled in chopped-up Tobler Chocolate Oranges and served on a bed of chilled Jell-O Chocolate Pudding.

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  • Limerick or haiku?  

    Haiku, thanks.

    Quiet radio.
    ["K-FOG Plays Christmas Classics."]
    Suddenly: Elton!

    Holiday ennui
    gradually morphs into
    something close to joy.

    tell 'em secra sent you

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