Taking a leaf out of Elsewhere's book, I have made/written/invented a meme, this time a Yuletide one. Nobody's tagged but I'd love to know if you do this one, so I can see what you said.
(NB: sincere apologies in advance to all for whom this meme has no meaning or relevance, including those of other creeds and those of Scrooge persuasion; I have great respect for your position but can't see the logic in suppressing my own secular pleasure in the Christmas mood and trappings on its account. So if you hate Christmas or are not interested in it, it's a bad idea to read on. Sorry.) I've been thinking about all these questions, as one does, so have put in my own answers.
1) Do you have a tree, and if so what is hanging on it?
Yes, a stylised tree of gold-coloured metal with a star on top and a lot of Leunig-looking curly branches for hanging ornaments on. It has all the ornaments I bought in Melbourne and overseas over the years to renew the stock for the family tree as things gradually got broken and shabby, and that I got back when my mum died; there are also various beautiful ornaments that people have given me.
Critters feature prominently -- there's an Austrian teddy in a hat and wasitcoat [UPDATE: I meant waistcoat, but I think 'wasitcoat' is almost better], a crystal cat, a Scottish rabbit swinging on a Christmas wreath, and a couple of lovely Victorian-style rocking-horses. Lots of musical instruments -- little harps and bells and violins and so on. There are also several angels, two strings of shiny beads, and some gold star tinsel that's been somewhat chewed at the lowest level. (Poppet, I'm looking at you.)
2) What's the most successful bit of Christmas cooking you've done so far?
The herb and garlic vinaigrette with home-grown herbs (parsely, thyme and chives) steeping in it as we speak is pretty impressive.
3) And the least successful?
I piked on real custard for the trifle and used bought instead. It's very nice though.
4) Which bit of your Christmas shopping are you happiest with?
I think my older sister is going to really like The Procrastinator's Planner for 2007.
5) Have you opened any of your presents yet? What was it / were they?
A bottle of Jurlique Rosewater Freshener Spray, a copy of Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons, 1967-76, a state-of-the-art garlic chopper-upper that is blessedly easy to wash, a copy of Ordinary People's Politics: Australians Talk About Life, Politics and the Future of Their Country, some beautiful little spicy German cookies that are basically a decorated version of Pfeffernüsse, and a compactly-sized portable personal evaporative air cooler.
6) Do you have any bad Christmas associations that will have to be tackled?
There was a very rough patch twenty years ago in my relationship with my younger sister, whose house we're having lunch at tomorrow -- when we were in our early to-mid thirties we would almost always have some kind of vicious, violent blow-up on Christmas morning over some incredibly trivial matter like how to clean the prawns.
I also feel worse every year about the fact that I'm not in the city at the Central Mission on Christmas morning making gravy and custard for the homeless. Next year I might volunteer to pack hampers or something.
7) What's your favourite carol? Why?
It used to be 'O Holy Night', for the buildup and drama of the music, and I've always had a soft spot for the Australian carol whose name I can't remember that begins 'The north wind is tossing the leaves / The red dust is over the town / The sparrows are under the eaves / And the grass in the paddock is brown', because in Curramulka where I grew up you could see every single one of those things while you were singing about them, just by looking out of the window.
But since I learned Berlioz's 'The Shepherd's Farewell' a few years ago with the choir I used to sing in, I've been very attached to that moment in the middle where there's a completely unexpected modulation out of the minor and into the major key. The harmonies are mind-boggling.
8) Which part of your Christmas plans is most likely to go awry?
I'm getting further and further behind with the List. And I don't think the handpainted silk shirt is going to look as good over the sleeveless top as I would like it to.
9) What's your most favourite thing about Christmas?
The sensory overload. Choirs! Champagne! Mince pies! Candlelight! Red and gold things!
10) What's your least favourite thing about it?
I always put on at least two kilos, which is something I really really seriously cannot afford to do.
11) What Christmassy thing have you seen or heard in the street or on the teeve or in the blogosphere that has
(a) touched your heart
Archie Roach singing 'From Little Things Big Things Grow' on the RocKwiz Christmas Special last night was something I'm very glad I saw.
(b) hit a nerve
Christmas cards in the racks in the shops saying 'Merry Christmas to a Wonderful Mother'. She died in 1999 and I'm still not used to it.
or (c) made you want to barf?
Nothing so far. But give me time.
12) Who do you wish you had contacted to say Happy Christmas but haven't so far?
Lyn, Darcy, Drusilla, Sally and Pete, Phil and Mary, Lucy and Julian, Angela and Grahame in Stirling, Adi and Irene in Klagenfurt, the Sydney Helen, one of the Melbourne Helens, both of the Barbaras, both of the Peters, all of the Christophers, and two old lovers -- you know who you are. Happy Christmas, you-all.
And to the Hivemind; to Cristy and Zoe and Armagnac, who will all have an extra mouth to feed custard into by next Christmas; and to everyone else who so nicely comes to Pav's Cat to read and chat, I hope you all have a peaceful, safe and happy Christmas.