mellificent: (Xmas - purple star)
Well, I was sort of saving this until closer to Christmas, but I don't seem to feel like writing anything else right now, so here you go! Some variation of this seems to float around every year, but I ganked this one from azurekitty, I think. (My way of doing this kind of thing is to copy it, delete the other person's answers and then let it sit for a day or two so I'm not just regurgitating their answers, hopefully! Which is why I also sometimes forget where I got them...)

1. Eggnog - Yay or Nay?
Nay - can't stand it. It's gross. (Don't worry, you're allowed to disagree with me. Just because I think it's gross doesn't mean you have to!)

2. Do you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?
Really, I didn't used to think twice about it one way or the other. But nowadays, well, this is what the "War on Christmas" has done for us - every time somebody says "Merry Christmas" I wonder whether it's a greeting or a political statement. (This is especially true if it's a business we're talking about.) It's funny, though, "Merry Christmas" still pops out of my mouth sometimes - it's what I was brought up with, I guess. In writing I'm much more likely to say "Happy holidays" without even thinking about it. Kind of strange, but there you are.

3. Does your family have any special Christmas Eve traditions? Share them, if you'd like.
We say "Christmas Eve Gift!" to one another, along with a hug and/or kiss. I guess that's the gift, see. Also my grandmother (who is gone now) used to always try to open a gift on Christmas Eve, even though we don't do that in my family. That was a tradition, too - everybody waited for her to do it (and I suspect she knew that perfectly well).

Other than that, the tradition is that the grown-ups sit around and drink and the kids play games and squabble. (That's just what everybody does, right?) And we have some sort of casserole or something for supper that isn't too much trouble to prepare - we save the big meal for the next day. But you're allowed to dip into the desserts so everybody still gets utterly stuffed anyway. Some years we have gone to the carol service in the past, but the last time we went it turned out to be contemporary and not real carols at all, which infurated me. So I am on strike there unless somebody guarantees me the real thing.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I think maybe I'd have to go with some of those real old-time Christmas carols on this - "Angels We Have Heard on High" maybe.

5. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
My mother pretending she heard the reindeer bells, when we were little. We got so excited.

6. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas, I guess, even though I am not especially a Bing Crosby fan. (My sister and I particularly like to make jokes about the "Sisters" number.)

7. What's the best gift you've ever gotten? What about the worst?
We had a discussion on Twitter the other day about toothbrushes as a bad gift. (It began with talking about giving toothbrushes at Halloween, which is a whole different matter.) I think it was when I was 17 that we were on a trip and my mother wrapped up toothbrushes and gave them to my sister and me as gifts. We both thought that was very silly, although I suppose we should have been more gracious about it. (We were 17 and 16, it's not an age where one tends to be gracious about things like that.) I know we got some other gifts that year but that's the one I still remember. On the other hand, we were in TELLURIDE. SKIING. That was a damn good gift, right there. So maybe that year was the best and worst all wrapped up in one.

8. Do you leave cookies out for Santa?
Only if there are kids around, which in recent years there haven't been. The kids presumably go through this ritual at their own houses.

9. Do you believe in Santa? If not, who convinced you that he’s not real?
I'm a natural skeptic, I stopped believing when I was 7 or 8. I pretended I did for a couple more years, though - I was afraid if I admitted it I wouldn't get presents any more!

10. Do you go caroling?
Not in years. In high school I was in choir and we did actually go around and carol at people's doors in the old-fashioned kind of way. Even in the 70s this seemed pretty retro and a lot of people didn't seem to know how to respond.

11. Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?
Yes, but mostly not anybody terribly interesting. Seems like back in high school, a million years ago, some boy that I thought I liked did kiss me, but I don't even remember who it was any more. That's sort of sad, I wish I remembered!

12. Who would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe?
I dunno, Karl Urban, maybe. Sadly, I can't even think of a particular celebrity crush to mention right now.
mellificent: (seasons)
I'm "of a certain age," as they say - which is to say, middle-aged. I'm a little over 50, and what that means for this purpose is that I remember the Bond movies of the 60s, but not clearly. By the time I was old enough to have more than a vague idea of what the Bond movies were all about, Bond was into the Roger Moore era, and he just never really appealed to me. Plus I thought those over-the-top plots of that era were stupid. So to sum up, I've just never been a huge Bond fan, and Rob - who is a little younger than me, just under 50 - doesn't like the Bond movies at all, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. (I don't know if the age thing makes any difference whatsoever - but it might, a bit. The two-and-a-half year age difference between us is nothing when you're 50, but back when we were kids, it was a lot. I don't remember the Sean Connery movies well, from back then, but I imagine I remember them better than he does! Although actually I doubt that either one of us were allowed to see them in the theater, if it came right down to it.) But anyway, I was intrigued enough by the reactions I was seeing on Twitter that I basically dragged him in with me to see Skyfall, and the fact is, we both enjoyed it. It's well-made, and it's really not a "traditional" Bond movie at all in a lot of ways, which for us is more of an advantage than not.

I didn't really read the reviews before we went, because I figure it's better in most cases if you can manage not to be spoiled. I read reviews of movies I'm not sure if I want to see, not the ones that I do. Skyfall would normally have been one of "unsure" ones, except for the aforementioned Twitter mini-reviews, which mostly were entirely non-spoilery things like "AWESOME!!" It was the sheer volume of those that caught my eye - nearly everybody on my Twitter list had things like that to say about it. So I decided I wanted to go, and I told Rob that if he would go with me to Skyfall on Thanksgiving Day that I would go with him to Lincoln on Sunday. (Which was not exactly a compromise, quite honestly, since I wanted to see that too. But it was enough to get him to cooperate, anyway!) I didn't read reviews of Lincoln, either, and I didn't actually realize what it's about - I think I expected more of a general Lincoln biopic than it actually was. But I like politics, and that's really what it was about, so I enjoyed it.

Now I am a little bit of a Civil War buff. Back in the early 90s when the Ken Burns thing came out, and then the Gettysburg movie, I got interested enough to wade through all three of the Shelby Foote books - which I highly recommend, if you're interested, but you need to be really interested. (A far lesser bar, if you're interested but not interested enough to put yourself in for a couple of thousand pages, is Foote's Shiloh novel. Or even better, the Michael Shaara novel that Gettysburg was based on, The Killer Angels. They are both extremely readable, without requiring any particular knowledge of the subject.) Then after Foote, I read an awful lot of other Civil War books as well - I actually considered going back to school to study this stuff, at one point. The only real tangible evidence of all my acquired knowledge is this little mini-summary of the first part of the war, which I still think is pretty good for something I wrote off the top of my head one night. (The reason there's no part 2 was largely because the war in 1863 gets a lot more complicated and got beyond the scope of what I could write without doing research.) So all this is by way of saying that I know a lot about Lincoln, in general. But I honestly didn't know much about the fight to pass the 13th amendment, and I enjoyed it. (I know, I keep saying that. But I did.) I don't know how much you'll enjoy this movie if this is not a subject that interests you, but it's another well-made movie, and the packed house we saw it with seemed to really enjoy it, too. And they surely can't all be Civil War buffs.
mellificent: (Xmas excess)
This was the Holidailies prompt for yesterday:
Tell us about an odd-but-beloved holiday tradition you or your family celebrate.

And I wasn't intending to write about ours because I was sure I had written about it before, but if I did it's gone - at least, I couldn't find it on Livejournal, so if I did it was on Diary-X or some other mysterious place, no idea. I checked every Christmas Eve or thereabouts back as far as my LJ goes - which is 2004, although really I didn't move over here full-time until 2006 or so, I think. And it's a Christmas Eve tradition so that's when I would have thought to write about it. It's the only weird holiday tradition I can think of in my family - so I guess that means I get to tell this story again, after all.

It's not really so much a story, anyway; it's just a thing. This little random thing that I've never heard anybody else anywhere mention as a family tradition, so I don't know where it came from or anything about it. It came from my maternal grandmother, as far as I know, and I would guess that possibly it's Czech, because my mother's family was from there, except that it was the other side of the family that came over from Moravia - that is, my mother's father's side, not her mother's. My grandmother didn't pick up on any other Czech family traditions that I know of, so I can't imagine that she would have just picked this one up and run with it. It's a mystery.

Well, anyway, all it is is this: on Christmas Eve, my grandmother and mother would go around kissing/hugging people (they did primarily stick to family members) and saying "Christmas Eve Gift!" Because - I guess - the kiss was the gift, you see. It got to be this family joke. And now that both of them are gone, my sister and I say it to each other, and maybe to Aunt Linda and some of the cousins, because they're the only ones who know what the heck we're talking about. It's this weird little stranded tradition, and it's sort of sad and sweet and funny, all at once.


My parents, 1960 (which would also have been my first Christmas)


Note: apparently I was asleep, or something, when I looked to see if I had posted about this before. There's a much more concise rendition of the story right here, from last Christmas Eve.

mellificent: (Vote)
From [livejournal.com profile] nonelvis :

1. Stop talking about politics for a moment or two.
2. Post a reasonably-sized picture in your LJ, NOT under a cut tag, of something pleasant, such as an adorable kitten, or a fluffy white cloud, or a bottle of booze. Something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS.
3. Include these instructions, and share the love.



kittens!

I think I posted this one last year sometime, but I don't care, because I like it. And, kittens! And also because I posted about my grandma yesterday and that made me all nostalgic again.

My grandma's name was Maedelle. I am not completely sure if it was originally Mae Dell, and it just got squished together over the years, or if they named her that from the beginning. That name definitely belongs to that East Texas school of double names, in any case, which has mostly vanished nowadays. (I always remember that for years she had a hairdresser, a woman, whose name was Cecil Rae.)

Maedelle was a bit of a character. When she died, in 2000 - age 89 - my cousin Pat wrote a piece for the local paper detailing some of her eccentricities. One was their house, which rambled all over - you had to go down a few stairs, for example, to get to what Grandma called the "sleeping porch" - which may have originally been a regular porch, but by the time I became old enough to remember had been enclosed. Come to think of it, I'm sure it was originally outside, because I remember that for a long time there were still windows on the inside. My grandfather was (a) very low-key and (b) adored her, and so he pretty much let her do whatever she wanted. Later the porch my sister and I are standing on here also got enclosed, as an add-on to the kitchen.

She loved to cook. She was a great cook, in a very country, fried-food-heavy sort of way. At my grandparents' house, the big meal of the day was what they called dinner and which was at what most people nowadays would call lunchtime. I remember "the men" coming home at noon for dinner - I guess it must have been the men who worked for Papa selling tractors. Then Grandma put the leftovers in the oven where they stayed all afternoon (yeah, I know, botulism and all that, but I don't remember anybody ever getting sick) until they were warmed up again for supper.

I suppose the meals when we were there were probably bigger than usual, but what I remember was that there was always a helluva lot of food. More than one meat, several vegetables, rolls, dessert. Usually there was this thing called "congealed salad" which I always hated, but which was jello mixed with whipped cream or sour cream and fruit or nuts and then refrigerated until it, well, congealed. And, oh yeah, cakes and pies and cookies, always. She always left batter in the bottom of the bowl for us when she made cakes. And I still can't see a chocolate meringue pie without thinking of her, to this day.

Vinyl

Dec. 5th, 2007 09:39 pm
mellificent: (Mel - snow)
Before I go on with the story about my musical career (so to speak), a digression. I've had music on the brain a bit, ever since I started talking about this, and I started thinking about records. (Talking about Waterloo and vinyl records the other day may have had something to do with this tangent, too.) I started trying to remember what records we had at this time, and especially if I had any classical music. I'm not at all sure that I did - at least, not until I was in high school, maybe. We didn't really have easy access to a lot of records other than the pretty limited selection at the local discount store - I can't remember the name of it right now, but it was sort of a proto-WalMart kind of place. My hometown didn't get a Wal-Mart until considerably later. That's the place I remember buying the first records I really picked out myself. If you look up the hit songs of those years - 1971 or 1972 - the ones I was buying were pretty high on the list, probably. I had "Joy to the World" on a single (the Three Dog Night song, I mean, not the Christmas one) and I know that some of the first albums I bought were an America album - "Horse With No Name" was really big that year - and the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. I can't remember having any classical music until later. I bet if that store had any it was of the "Beethoven's Greatest Hits" ilk; it seems like there was a series of albums like that that used to always be around, anybody else remember those? I think maybe the first classical albums I bought came from Austin, actually - we used to always go up to UT for State Solo & Ensemble contest when I was in high school, and there was a store at Dobie Mall that we used to buy records at. (That one was Record Town, I'm pretty sure - because it was still there when I lived at Dobie in the late 70s.) I had a Rachmaninoff album, I know, although I don't remember when I got that. Remember I said that Van Cliburn had big hands? I'd recognize the cover of this album if I saw it, because the pianist - a woman - was sitting in a chair with her hands hanging down, and hers were huge, too. Not big all over, but really long. I believe I found that slightly depressing, because I have pretty small hands, and I figured this didn't bode well.


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