Friday, December 29, 2006

The best of books, part 2

I'm back with more great reads from this year. Before I dive into the fiction list, I should note a couple of honorable mentions that didn't get props yesterday. Red Sun asked if I'd read Running with Scissors, and the answer is no - it seemed too grim. But I grabbed Dry, another by the same author, and LOVED it. And if you're curious about the music biz, check out Everything I'm Cracked Up To Be by Jen Trynin. She almost made it huge, but then didn't. Not a perspective you read about every day (I'm contemplating a similar book, chronicling my brief gymnastics career...)

Okay, on to fiction...

This was a GREAT year for fiction reads, probably the best bunch of books I've read since I skipped Spanish class every day for a week to find out what happened to Alya and Jondolar in the Clan of the Cave Bear series. Here are my top five...

5. Dear Zoe by Philip Beard
This is the best angsty teenage girl voice I've read, and Beard does it without making his character annoying - rather a miracle. There is real life "stuff" going on in this book, and I loved the choices he made for his characters - they felt right, somehow. Fabulous book. It's on sale at Amazon, so grab a copy and thank me later :)

4. Plan B by Jonathan Tropper
The people in this book are the kind of friends we all want - that we all hope we'd be, if push came to shove. Tropper captures that, "Oh crap - I have to decide what to do with my life?" stage well, and winds it through a fun story to keep it from getting too dark. All his stuff is great.

3. The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart
I used my Barnes & Noble Christmas gift card from Starbucks Girl to get my own copy of this book. It makes me think about why some friendships survive and others don't. No big answers so far, but this story is a great example of how love is often more elastic than we give it credit for.

2. The Big Love by Sarah Dunn
How cool to see a character wrestling with her faith life and her love life at the same time. Dunn tortures her main character, but the result is a great story that doesn't resolve perfectly OR leave you dangling in the misery. It takes an artful touch to find the middle ground, and Dunn has it. I read it twice.

1. Once Upon A Day by Lisa Tucker
This book comes out in paperback in the spring, and if the author comes anywhere near New England, I will be there. This story blows to smithereens our incessant pop-psychology labels and personality types. The characters, each faced with some pretty untenable situations, do the best the can with what they have in the moment. It's beautiful, messy, and fabulous. Hands down, the best book I read this year.

How about you???

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The best of books, part 1

Today's subject: Best non-fiction books I've read this year!

But first, a little insight into why I loved some books and sent others back to the library...

I think it can be summed up in the two anthologies Santa left me under the tree on Sunday night - one of great sports writing, the other chronicling the year's best travel tales. Now, those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that my travel in 2006 was limited to trips to Altoona, Kansas and St. Louis, Missouri, and that I spent my childhood spinning - and falling - in the driveway, chasing after my baton. Given this history, you can see that these were obvious must-have gifts for someone as worldly and athletically inclined as me :)

Seriously, though - This is the first year I've kept track of the books I've read (thank you, Amazon, for your handy wish-list feature), and scrolling through it gave me a chance to think about what works for me in reading and what doesn't (even if, according to my demographic/life experience/prior reading choices, it should). Here's what I learned: as much as I love non-fiction - essays, memoirs - I really only love them if the author is doing something, not just thinking. I've attempted several much-heralded books of deep rumination regarding the meaning of life, death, relationships, family, pets, etc. and failed to connect. But give me a book about someone who is has to line up their green beans in one-inch parallel lines before eating them, or shuffling around a cancer ward messing with the nurses, or breaking up with their high school sweetheart/being wooed by a husband they just divorced, or chasing their mud-covered dog through a crowded shopping mall, and THAT keeps me reading.

I need action. If you're writing about travel or sports, chances are you're doing something. In contrast, when I read the review for the collection of great essays from this year, one of the opening lines said something like, "The theme of these works seems to be death..." For that reason, said book was not on my wish list to Santa, as it seemed like a rather grim lump of coal.

So in what may be the worlds longest preface, there you have a little insight into why these books were my favorite non-fiction reads this year (I also left out blockbuster bestsellers that need no more hype, and books I've raved about endlessly already). Here are a few you might not have thought of:

5. But Enough About Me: A Jersey Girl's Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous by Jancee Dunn
I loved Dunn's fun honesty - she does a great job of being among the fabulous people without needing to convince us that she was accepted as one of their own. She leans heavily on self-deprecating humor and tales of her ultra-normal family, which makes a pointed contrast to what she encounters in the celebs she meets.

4. Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig
This book is David Sedaris-level funny.

3. EAT, PRAY, LOVE: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book is beautifully written, full of direction changes and adventure, and allowed me to live vicariously through some three adventures I have almost no desire to try myself. What more can you ask of a memoir???

2. THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls
This story of Walls' childhood is so grim, but her description of the ways she and her siblings coped made me see that we totally underestimate kids in this country. This is a fabulous book on every level.

1. THE LAST SHOT: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey.
A tale of four kids being courted by the NBA, trying to get out of the Coney Island projects. This is a fabulous, gripping read about two worlds I never would have known about. It changed the way I watch basketball, and the way I think about opportunity in this country.

There you have it! I'll be back tomorrow with the top five fiction picks. (And for fuller reviews and a longer list, check out my book log.)

What have your favorites been this year???

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

December 27th - a day of thanks!

We survived! Honestly, I think Thanksgiving should be moved to two days after Christmas. Forget the whole Pilgrims & Indians thing; we should all have an extra day off to relax, take down our holiday decorations, and revel in having conquered another season of giving and receiving. For this new Thanksgiving, no parties would be allowed, and the only food you can eat or offer must be cobbled together from whatever is in the fridge - or, even better, offered on a take-out menu pulled from a drawer.

My day of thanks began early this morning (okay, I'm not certain it was early, only that I had just recently woken up). My sister called to tell me that my three-year-old niece had donned the Little Mermaid costume Steve and I gave her for Christmas, and was prancing around the play room singing to herself: "I swim through the water la la and I catch the fishies la la la and I'm a mermaid la la..." That's a whole lot of cuteness for $14.99.

I've cleaned up almost all evidence of Christmas except for one lone CD that's still in the car and the nativity scene I can't bring myself to put away. On a scale of 1 to 5, how tacky is it to leave it up year round? If it's up in the 4-5 range, is the tackiness diminished at all if said decoration is tucked into a discrete corner? Just asking...for a friend, you know...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Good News

Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart (including Santa, you, and me) prepare Him room...

I think I'm finally catching on this year to what all these carols mean, and why someone would carry a big sign like this (I used to think it was just the quality rhyme scheme). And yet for all the ways I now understand why Jesus' birth is indeed good news, I still can't get through this song without launching into the alternative lyrics from my childhood about an exploding cigar that I'm SURE was not at the original - or even the Veggie Tales version - of the Nativity. Maybe next year...) In other holiday fun, check out this cartoon. Funny, painful, true. I suspect that political correctness is one of the things Jesus came to free us from :)

Have a Merry Christmas, one and all. Be blessed, in Jesus' (or Jesus's, depending on your school of grammar) name!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Scenes from the livingroom, and the backyard

I've been home with a stomach bug for most of this week, hence the lack of blogging. My quality time on the couch has included a bizarre array of books, making me wonder if it's brilliant or disturbing that I can flip so easily back and forth between the gut-wrenching pages of A Hope In the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League and Jennifer Weiner's The Guy Not Taken?

In other news, THAT DOG came home from the groomers looking spiffy and spry with her new clean self, then promptly gulped down a pile of poop left by who knows what sort of animal while rooting around in the back yard. Honestly, I don't even want to imagine the creature that left that - we live in the city, so it's not like we have many wild kingdom moments. Kylie, however, dove right in and reveled in the moment, so to speak, celebrating the "unique gift" from her mammalian brethren. Seeing a hawk circling overhead, I quickly pulled her and her poopy mouth inside before she fell down a rung on the food chain.

She, I noticed, does not have a stomach bug.

And while I kvetched about it back in November, now would be a perfect time for a little Barry Manilow Christmas music...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Prayer, please...

My fellow blogger/writer/friend Darlene posted yesterday that her 24 year-old son, Mark was in a serious car accident. He is in ICU with a broken back and various other injuries. Please join me in asking God for one of those miracles we read about in the Bible, where Jesus shows up and the broken are inexplicably, miraculously put back together, healed and well, with a new understanding of what life is all about. Advent is a season of expectation, so this seems like an apt use of our time and our prayers.

Thanks, all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Update from all fronts

In happy holiday news, my brilliant, beloved Sister told me about a new take on Nativity happiness: The Veggie Tales Nativity Scene! Honestly, what's not to love about vegetables celebrating the birth of Jesus??? It's enough to make me swear off salad forever...

It also takes my mind off the fact that I just received two Christmas cards from people I forgot to send cards to. The bummer of it is, both of them are fun and awesome people, so I can't even take solace in the belief that they will so enjoy feeling superior to me in their execution of pre-holiday matters that it will make up for my abject failure. When it comes to this kind of thing, sometimes I'm the windshield, sometimes I'm the bug.

Among the other "who knows how this will go?" items, THAT DOG is at the groomer this afternoon, getting her quarterly bath & trim. Please join me in a brief prayer that she not come back looking quite as bald and antelope-eque as last time.

And finally, an Important Question For Today: WHY doesn't tupperware EVER dry in the dishwasher???

(Important Question For Tomorrow: WHY does this bother me so much?)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Culinary Cry for Help!

Ack! I just remembered that I promised to bring some sort of "savory dish" to a Christmas party tomorrow night. Too bad I don't know any savory dishes. And I like the people who will be at this party far too much to subject them to the "special sausage sauce" I found on last New Years Eve, which consisted of the following instructions: "combine one cup ketchup with one cup grape jelly. Cook in crock pot for 45 minutes and serve."

If anyone out there has a savory dish recipe that doesn't break the basic laws of condiment separation (preferably one that cooks quietly in a crock pot while I take the dog to the groomer and finish up my Christmas shopping), PLEASE email me at trishstevekylie AT yahoo DOT com.

Muchas, Muchas Gracias!

Focusing on what matters

As you can see, we're quite serious about our charity work here in Boston.

I didn't run the race (I was curled up on the couch watching a rerun of Good Will Hunting), but have made up for it with a productive Monday here in Trishland. I awoke THAT DOG from her slumber around 1pm to go for a walk. (Hubby's chiropractor will be delighted to know that while Steve isn't sure about the new special-order pillow, Kylie is enjoying it tremendously). We took the long route so I could mail some Christmas cards. (An aside: I always intend to write long, heartfelt messages in these cards, then get overwhelmed and fail to do so. So if you get a card from me, know that there's a tear jerking treatise of love and appreciation underneath my mundane message about having a Merry Christmas and a good 2007. And if you don't get a card for me, please know that while I may not have your address, I still have an uncommunicated heartfelt treatise for you, too!)

Anyway, about halfway through the walk, it starts to rain. First a few light drops, and then a pelting fury of cold bullets falls from the sky, at which point THAT DOG plants all four paws on the sidewalk, yanks her neck backwards to let me know that her little self is marching on no further, and shoots me a seering look that says, "Twenty minutes ago, I was warm and happy in bed. You've ruined everything! Fix it!"

But then a fat squirrel ran by and she regained her zest for life outside the bedroom.

Now that we're home, she is pacing through the house whining pitifully, unable to decide where to hide the sock she just pulled out of the laundry. Honestly, the song, It's A Hard Knock Life was written with her in mind. While Kylie wrestles with the bigger problems of the universe, I pulled a nasty raw chicken (really, is there any other kind?) out of the fridge to cook. I'm more convinced than ever that somewhere, hidden in the complex language of the book of Revelation, God says, "Don't eat poultry - it's just too gross." I've yet to find a Bible scholar to back me up on this, but I think it's a valid theory.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Important information

If you're hoping to find minions under your Christmas tree this year (or acquire some in post-holiday sales), Stacy has an important post up over at her blog regarding their care and maintenance.

On a related note, I'm reading Juicing the Orange today, wondering how I can put this principle to work in my own life. I suspect that minions would be invaluable. (If you search Google Images for minions, it's clear that the world needs some happy ones. Thank you, Stacy, for spearheading this effort).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Books: weather resisitant, always the right size

I just placed ANOTHER order on Amazon for Christmas books. They say we tend to give gifts we'd like to receive, and I guess I'm proving it true. But I've had a crazy number of, "Oh - this book would be perfect for ____!" moments over the past month or so, and it's gotten to the point where I no longer try to resist.

What books are you giving? More importantly, what is on your wish list?

I'm asking Santa for an odd assortment this year, including this, this (my nominee for funniest cover ever) and this.

I used to be this passionate about shoes, but living in a place where it's winter half the year, I find books a sturdier obsession :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

If the world was your oyster...

I had one of those great "girlfriend hangout" nights with Starbucks Girl last night. We ate pasta, we talked about the meaning of life, love, relationships, God...all the good stuff you're not supposed to discuss in polite company but makes the best sort of conversation. At the end of it, I asked what would make her life better (okay, the truth is I asked, "How can I pray for you?" but if that weirds you out, pretend I said "What would make your life better?")

Her answer? A fun, relaxing vacation.

And that, my dear readers, is where you come in. I am the least imaginative person on the planet when it comes to vacation ideas. I'm all vague about the places I'd like to visit - "Somewhere warm" comes to mind, or "The West Coast, perhaps." But I know some of you out there have fabulous travel experience and/or fun vacation dreams you can share.

So where would you go on vacation? Make your suggestions reasonable, please (because as much as we shell out for our Venti Mocha Lattes, it doesn't go directly into Starbucks Girl's pocket). I don't think she's looking to rent an island or charter a yacht. But if you know of someplace fabulous, fun, and relaxing (preferably warm) drop a line in the comments!

And yes, the hippo in my last post was made from a potato (good eye Alyssa!) You can also get his friends, Sweet Potato Pig and Squash Goose to make an entire veggie farm. (You probably won't, but you could...)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If only...

Do you think anyone would notice if I snuck a hippo into my nativity scene? I mean, I know it's unlikely and all, but do we have proof that there WASN'T a hippo shuffling around near the manger?

Green be gone.

I'm sick with some sort of sinus horror. I've had this before, so I know where I'm headed, and it ain't pretty. About six months ago, a disgusting glob of goo lodged in my throat and wouldn't let go for two weeks. I coughed and coughed and could not get rid of it. Then it spread to my eyes, and I had giant patches of green "stuff" (I can't bring myself to use that word) literally stuck to my eyeballs. Unbelievable. Let me tell you - do NOT mess with your sinuses. When they fight back, it's UGLY.

This past Saturday afternoon, my throat felt a little scratchy (okay, that's not true - it felt like I was choking on a cheese grater) and then Sunday morning I could hear the dude from the Mucinex commercial taunting me, "I'm baaaaaack!" (Aside: Is it just me, or is "Mucinex" the grossest product name ever? Why can't they call it "Green Be Gone"or something nice and encouraging like that?) Anyway, I'm downing Green Be Gones and drinking GALLONS of water to fend this stuff off. I see the doctor on Thursday (if it gets to my eyes by that point, I'll post pictures - but please pray that it doesn't!) The one benefit I'm looking forward to: last time, when I drank this much water, even though I was choking, sniffling, sneezing, blowing, gagging and not sleeping for days on end, my skin looked FABULOUS. The glass is half full, folks!

On a happier note, thank you all for your kind concern for the fate of baby Jesus yesterday. It's times like this when I have to remind myself that He got over the whole born-next-to-a-donkey-in-December thing and the story turns out okay (albeit with a decidedly grim turn there towards the end). But the commonality of our childhood experiences mauling the young savior makes me even more convinced of his miraculous abilities (which is a good place to be as I feel that green stuff plotting to slime my eyes...)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Manger abandoned due to heightened security

The highlight of my weekend was getting my very first grown-up nativity scene. I've wanted one for quite awhile now, but they're not cheap. (Is it wrong for me to admit that I can't wait until next year to add the backdrop and the giant camel???) Somehow, presents for real people always pushed the ceramic replicas of the original players off the bottom of my holiday budget, leaving me pining for the days when my sister and I would try (and fail) not to touch the fragile manger scene that grew more banged up every year as Mom set it up in early December and sis and I mauled it uncontrollably all the way up until New Year's Eve. (I suspect that one frequently beheaded-then-glued wise man virtually LONGED for the shoe box he inhabited the rest of the year). The manufacturers of that set were smart - the baby Jesus was made of plastic - virtually indestructible, even as our curious little hands turned him over and tossed him about. I'm not sure we ever believed that this little wiggle of painted plastic was the hero we sang about in "Joy to the World," but it would have been a bummer to lop the head off of the Messiah.

The fine people at Willow Tree took this one step further. Our new Christmas scene casts Jesus safely within the arms of his mother, rather than in a trough/cradle. Local municipalities that frequently find their savior stolen during the holidays might consider this approach, as who would be bold/stupid enough to wrest Jesus from his mother's arms? Apparently, Jesus-nappers have formed a network of sorts, making me think they've REALLY missed the reason for the season...

In other news, I read this over the weekend, after finishing this awhile back. Check the booklog for reviews coming soon, and feel free to recommend my next great read in the comments!

Friday, December 08, 2006

So where CAN you buy a bow & arrow in greater Boston?

I had a FABULOUS shopping experience yesterday at the new L.L.Bean. It doesn't compete with the Maine store (no pond, no men's dress shirt section, a noticeable absence of weaponry), but everyone there was super-friendly and helpful, and I trust that both hubby and Mom will look great in their Christmas presents, which are currently strewn across my dining room table.

The truth is, L.L.Bean could have been selling wool unitards in shades of 1970's kitchen appliances and I still would have loved it, because right next door I found THE BEST BORDERS EVER. L.L.Bean is, therefore, perfect by proximity.

There are a few things that make me happier than a bookstore (hubby, flannel pj's, God) but not many. This new Borders was like a well-trained puppy - everything shiny and beautiful, with only a slight hint that it's still figuring out how life works (such as the cafe guy who asked, "what's grande?" when I ordered my coffee, and the manager who, when told that a bird had flown into the store and appeared to be contemplating early Jewish literature, said only, "Well, at least he's warm...")

So yes, there were warm Maine-ish clothes and miles and miles of books (not to mention freakishly warm 62 degree weather). After my shopping was done I sat outside on a cedar bench with my grande=medium coffee and thought, life is good :)

It all came full-circle at exactly 6:22 this morning, when THAT DOG decided she needed to go out immediately. It was 22 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of one million-four. Nothing like chasing the poop as it blows across the driveway to get the day off to an exhilarating start.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Changing with the times

I'm off to check out the new L.L. Bean store here in Eastern Massachusetts. I'll admit that it feels a little strange for this Maine girl to be shopping down here for fleece and parkas, but I'm going to give it a try. I don't think the new store has an indoor trout pond and they're not open 24/7/365, but if they help me find gifts to put under the tree for the people I love, I'll make it work. I'm resilient that way :)

(Besides, I think the Maine store will deny me access once they find out my Christmas tree is 4 feet tall and plastic. They might not even let me into the state.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I am hip deep in mundane life activities today. (You know, the stuff I ignored last week when I was living in my pajamas typing frenetically.) This might be a tad depressing, but for my deep and abiding love of laundry. The ability to take piles of chaos and turn them, in just a little over an hour, into neat and ordered opportunities for fashion greatness (not to mention blog exaggeration) brings peace and joy to my cluttered soul.

As I sort, wash, dry, and fold, I'm giggling to myself about Gwen Stefani's new single. I'm not sure why, but sampling the yodeling goat song (lyrics inexplicably provided by the National Institute of Health/Department of Human Services) from "The Sound of Music" strikes me as one of the funniest things I've ever heard. When I saw the video - which looks so Madonna-esque that Gwen should fess up to a tribute even if she didn't have the Divine Diva in mind as she wielded her riding crop and donned her platinum wig - I thought, "Yay Gwen." Honestly, she's an impossible mix of creative and normal, always teetering right at the edge of embarrassing but never falling over. She inspires me, as I stand here folding laundry (in an outfit that teeters on the edge of embarrassing...) I think she's our generation's unheralded music genius. I hope she does a follow up single based on "Climb Every Mountain," might enjoy some crossover success in self-help circles if Gwen plays her cards right :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

All the news that's fit to print

According to the fine people at Comcast News ("Stay on top of today's headlines!"), when you consider everything going on in the entire world today, here is what you most need to know:

"Clooney loses beloved pet pig Max"

"Lance Bass, boyfriend break up"

"Serena Williams' dog bites guard in Florida"

Don't even get me started about the woman who found a bat in her Christmas tree.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Three things happened this weekend to put me in the Christmas spirit.

First, the Christmas ornaments made their magic migration from the dining room table to the branches of the tree. And as much as I liked the whole installation-art feel of the little snowmen and angels spread out across my placemats, I have to say they look rather marvelous hanging amidst the lights. It's satisfying, like returning wildlife to their native habitat.

Second, our friends Van and Carmine were baptized on Saturday. The ceremony was casual (we're a shorts & t-shirts kind of church when it comes to dunking) but SO inspiring. There must have been seventeen people who stood up and described what Jesus had done to make their lives better, then went under and came up to the promise of being made new. Maybe there's someone out there who could sit though an hour of mini-histories of God helping people break addictive drug use, wiggle free from depression, or leave a job/life they hated in faith that God had something better. I, however, am not that person. On Saturday, I made the connection about why Christmas is good news (aside from the presents. You all KNOW I love the presents). Jesus came so we could have abundant life. At the baptism, I saw 17 bits of evidence that he's making good on his promise. That's good stuff :) I also received the very encouraging cheers of my church friend Paul (Hi Paul!) who told me he reads the blog and supports my desire to decorate with chickens (or at least to blog about it). You gotta love unexpected encouragement like that!

Finally, our downstairs neighbor - a young boy of about ten - asked if he could decorate our communal porch with Christmas lights. Naturally, we said yes. "I can't wait until it gets dark to see how they look!" I enthused. Last night at about 9:45, we turned onto our street to see the most pitiful/wonderful display of Christmas cheer ever. Picture this: a single string of white lights coming out a side widow, crawling along the side of the house to the porch, where it meets up with several strings of colored lights, which wind around one side of the railing in no discernible pattern. That's it. And in it's abysmal lack of all things planned and perfect (not to mention symmetrical) it makes me happy. Jesus is the reason for the season, and sometimes he strings the lights a little crooked, just to see how we'll react :)

P.S. I typically don't go all Jesus-ey in my posts. But it's Christmas, which makes the topic a little hard to avoid. If you don't consider yourself a Jesus-ey person, thanks for bearing with me - I appreciate it :)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tag, I'm it

Alyssa tagged, me! So here, before I take my "Omigosh I finished my first draft" celebratory shower (thanks for your support, all), is everything you never wanted to know about Trish and Christmas:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate. Egg nog tastes good, but it's essentially fat and egg in a glass. For the holidays, we can do better.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
He wraps them! Carefully! With all kinds of different pretty paper, and none of those gift bags, either :)

3. Coloured lights on tree/house or white? Growing up - colored. This year - white. I could come up with some deep theory on how the white lights represent purity and innocence, or the combination of all the beautiful colors of the rainbow, but it would be a total sham. I just like the white ones better.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? I'm all for the holiday romance - I have the "mistletoe" Yankee Candle, so the scent wafts all over our house. We kiss a lot in December :)

5. When do you put your decorations up? Define "up"? This year they made it as far as the dining room table on the day after Thanksgiving. The tree is naked, but the table looks great. I'm hoping to get to step two sometime before the 25th...

6. What is your favourite holiday dish? Stuffing. Everything should be stuffed - ham, roast beef, eggplant. Christmas is a celebration of carbohydrates in my world.

7. Favourite holiday memory as a child? When Santa brought my first bike. He even knew I'd need training wheels, as he'd noticed that while I'd been very, very good, I was a tad uncoordinated.

8. When did you learn the truth about Santa? You mean, that he'd find a way into our house with the presents even though we didn't have a fire place? First grade.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? I did that once, the year I was SURE I was getting my first bra. It turned out to be long underwear. That taught me to wait.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Gradually.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
Love it in December. Dread it in March.

12. Can you ice skate?
If Steve holds me up, I'm quite fabulous. On my own, not so much.

13. Do you remember your favourite gift? There have been a bunch - pretty much any time you give me a gift, it has the potential to be my favorite! (See #18)

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Seeing my cute niece and nephew.

15. What is your favourite holiday dessert? PIE!

16. What is your favourite holiday tradition?
Um, not to sound obvious, but presents :)

17. What tops your tree? Nothing, yet. By the time we thought to shop for a tree topper last year, all the good ones were gone. I didn't want a demented glowing angel, so we tied a bow on the top branch and called it a day. Hopefully we'll do better this year.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Okay, I know I'm supposed to say "giving." But come on! I'll be honest - I LOVE receiving presents :)

19. What is your favourite Christmas song?
I just heard a new medley of "Joy to the World" which I love.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yuck. Once you've seen a half-eaten one stuck to the back of your dog, it's hard to look at them as food ever again.

There you have it :)
I'm tagging Stacy, Lynette, Swishy, and Jenny.