Monday, January 6, 2014

the eve

It is time to start writing about the gatherings of Christmas.  The many gatherings of Christmas.  Perhaps it should be a song....  "On the 7th gathering of Christmas, my true love made me eat...." or something like that, because frankly, it is all about the food.  Okay, maybe it is about being together and celebrating Jesus.  But there is always food.  Lots of food.
Christmas gatherings also seem to be about Spoons too.  That is perfectly fine with me - play games and stay off the electronics.  Although the third picture shows otherwise.  Sigh.

While the kids were playing, we others were preparing delicious things of all sorts.  Kim made a jello mold.  Love the jello molds, although they don't love to be unmolded.  It's sad state reminded me of my jello flop of Independence 2012.  At least it didn't have cat hair in it like Aunt Bethany's.... and she didn't wrap it up as a gift either.

Another Giesbrecht family Christmas tradition is Grandma reading the Christmas story from the bible and the grandkids acting it out.  The adorable Mia was Mary, for which I was grateful.  It will admittedly (by her) probably be her last year of acting.  Soon turning 13 makes her feel like she is probably too old.  Thankfully, she is very young and fun at heart and really isn't keen on growing up.  LOVE that.  

Lucy took the role of the angel.  Apparently it didn't go over very well as Riley is traditionally the angel.  It is not easy having another four (well, in this case, three) cousins intrude on the what-usually-happens.  I believe Riley bowed out rather graciously.

Uncle Chris enjoyed the "show" while snuggling with Bentley.  Bentley is a lap-dog in a big-dog body.

Baby Jesus (the Brooklyn-made stuffed monkey) received fine gifts of gold (a dog toy), frankincense (a bedazzled jar) and myrrh (a half full bottle of coke).  Lucky.
Then I provided a game.  A very unwelcome game, for the kids.  They were not at all thrilled.  Well, I thought it was interesting and a few of the adults did as well.  It was the "Great Canadian Christmas Quiz" from Canadian Living.  The question about the japanese girls made me want to do it (question 6 in the first section).... it relates to "jap oranges" as my family refers to them and Eric mocks (as it sounds very racist).  
I'm going to put it all at the bottom of this post just for fun but the link to it is here.

Time for dinner (sorry, Supper - we are in Canada after all).  While we were getting the food ready, the kids opened their crackers and coloured the table covering.  I found a new website that I am smitten with called The Caravan Shoppe.  Basically I want to buy everything on there.  I bought the download for the table covering and got it printed at Staples (that is what you do - buy downloads and then get stuff printed).  It was a huge Christmas colouring sheet.

The crackers had gold paper crowns, a joke (all seriously lame) and some trinket - a mini screwdriver set, little silver frame, a key chain photo folder, some weird silver thing with a heart on it that looked like a bracelet but was too small for even the smallest kids' wrists... things like that.

And then the moment they all were waiting for.... gift opening time.  The kids all had their cousin gifts (they pulled names:  Maddy had Shandy, Mia had Riley, Cade had Lauren and Lucy had Cole) and then a gift from Grandma.  Grandma, in usual form, provided gifts of comfort and coziness.... they were a hit.  Most of the kids got cozy blankets, one of them received flannel sheets, and one a cozy bath robe.  Our kids also got gifts from Uncle Chris and Auntie Jann (they take turns giving gifts by different family each year... ours was this year, obviously).
Lucy received pet shops from Cole.
Chris and Jann gave Lucy earmuffs, smelly markers, an alarm clock and diary.  All things on her list.  She apparently went up to Auntie Jann latter, looked in her eyes, squished her cheeks and said "Somebody talked to my mom!!"

Jesse had Cade.  He got a motion detector and a hexbug aquabot.  From Chris and Jann he received a DC hat, a snowball gun, and a boomerang.  They obviously talked to his mom too!

(you may want to look at Maddy glaring at me in the background... sometimes she seems to think I take too many pictures.... ridiculous, I know)
I think Shandy had Mia and she got canvases and some other art stuff.  From Uncle Chris and Auntie Jann she got a multi-picture frame, a clothespin picture frame and beautiful shirt.
Brooklyn had Maddy and gave her tea and a very cool to-go mug that has a flip-down tea strainer thing.  Maddy is a HUGE tea lover.  From Jann and Chris she received a Forever 21 gift card and some  really nice bathy-lotion stuff.
We all chipped in and gave mom a steam mop and a Norwex towel.  The mop is going back to the store though because she just recently decided to move and will benefit from a remote car starter instead.
I also gave mom a small canvas of the cherry tomatoes in a pot picture I took this summer.

Mom knit the family dogs neon scarves.  They look charming and in the latest of fashion, don't you think?

Eric and I got a much desired and highly useful large skillet.  It has already made life much better.

I don't even remember what Glenda received but she was dramatically being fake-overjoyed.

Dessert was after gifts, because of course, we needed more too eat.  I made chocolate log roll (or tradition) but gussied it up a little with chocolate "bark".  Chris made a white chocolate version for the non-chocolate fans.  Some of us felt it necessary to have a piece of each.  Necessary.
Twas a merry merry gathering and a good kick-off to a series of several more!

The Great Canadian Christmas Quiz

Christmas across Canada
1. Which city is officially known as "The Christmas Capital of Canada"?

a) Toronto
b) Montreal
c) Winnipeg
d) Vancouver

2. During the 12 Days of Christmas in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, kids often wear masks, make noise, ring bells and go door-to-door seeking treats. Which name do they go by? 
a) Mummers
b) Bummers
c) Belsnicklers
d) Both a and c

3. During the last seven days of December, many of Canada's Inuit celebrate Christ's birth. Which of the following is true?    
a) Gifts are only given to children aged 12 and under
b) Gifts are exchanged every day from Dec. 25 to 31
c) Gifts exchanged can only be homemade
d) No gifts are exchanged at all

4. During Christmas in Quebec, a Yuletide tradition is a réveillon. What exactly is it?
a) A Christmas dance
b) A Christmas bouquet
c) A Christmas banquet
d) A Christmas party game

5. In 1905, which company sponsored the first Santa Claus Parade in Toronto?
a) The Bay
b) Le Château
c) The T. Eaton Company
d) The Real Canadian Superstore

6. At the Port of Vancouver, young girls dress in traditional kimonos to accompany the arrival of a special first shipment from Japan that kicks off the Christmas season for many Canadians. It contains…?
a) Video games
b) Cellphones
c) Plasma TVs
d) Oranges


Christmas entertainment

1. Which of the following is a genuine Canadian Christmas recording?
a) "All I Want for Christmas Is a New RV" by The Trailer Park Boys
b) "Have Yourself a Murray Little Christmas" by Anne Murray
c) "Christmas with the Adams Family" by Bryan Adams
d) "Barenaked for the Holidays" by The Barenaked Ladies

2. Which classic movie is repeatedly referenced in the 2003 Christmas in Canada episode of the animated series "South Park"?
a) It's a Wonderful Life
b) Gone with the Wind
c) The Wizard of Oz
d) Casablanca

3. Every Christmas season, kids and parents enjoy the antics of Canada's John Candy in the 1990 Christmas classic Home Alone. Which part did he play?
a) Bumbling robber
b) Wacky neighbour
c) Parent of the movie's then-young star Macaulay Culkin
d) A polka-band leader who helps Macaulay Culkin's mom get home

4. Which Canadian was born on Dec. 25?
a) Celine Dion
b) Wayne Gretzky
c) Pamela Anderson
d) Justin and Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau

5. Which is considered to be the first Christmas carol based on an Aboriginal language? 
a) "Joy to the World"
b) "The Huron Carol"
c) "White Christmas"
d) "The First Noel"

6. In the Merry Gasmas episode of "Corner Gas," what does Wanda (Nancy Robertson) desperately want to give to her son as a Christmas gift?
a) A friendly German shepherd reputed to be the genuine The Littlest Hobo 
b) A Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey autographed by the entire team
c) A DVD of Brent, Wanda and Hank's rock trio, Thunderface, in concert
d) A highly sought-after, battery-powered ChewBot Trans-Farmer Goat-Robot


Christmas miscellaneous
1. Canada's National Christmas Tree Growers Association reports that real Christmas trees have positive spin-offs. Which of the following is true?
a) They produce oxygen, rid the air of carbon dioxide and reduce the greenhouse effect
b) They are a renewable resource, biodegradable and a wildlife habitat
c) Neither a or b
d) Both a and b

2. Which Canadian chain store once featured Give like Santa, Save like Scrooge as its sales slogan during the holiday season?
a) Rona
b) Mr. Big and Tall
c) Canadian Tire
d) Mark's Work Wearhouse

3. What made Queen Elizabeth’s 2006 Christmas message so unique?
a) It featured season's greetings from the entire Royal Family
b) It featured a slew of Royal Family bloopers and outtakes
c) It featured the Royal Family singing Christmas carols
d) It was the first to be made available as a podcast

4. Yes, Virginia…there really is a genuine organization named SCROOGE. What does this acronym mean?
a) Sincere Canadians (Who) Rule Out Outlandish Gift Excesses
b) Send Commercialism Right Out of Our Good-Natured Environment
c) Society of Cheap, Repulsive, Overwrought, Oddball Geezers Everywhere
d) Society to Curtail Ridiculous, Outrageous and Ostentatious Gift Exchanges

5. Every holiday season, Canadians spend millions on poinsettia plants. Where were they originally grown? 
a) Great Britain
b) Argentina
c) Mexico
d) United States

6. In Labrador, which vegetables are saved from the summer harvest, hollowed out, fitted with a candle and given to children at Christmas?
a) Cucumbers
b) Pumpkins
c) Potatoes
d) Turnips


Bonus questions
1. How often does the average Canadian eat turkey?
a) Once a year
b) Twice a year
c) 11 times a year
d) 15.5 times a year

2. Which of the following do not allow retail shopping on Boxing Day, Dec. 26?
a) New Brunswick, P.E.I. and  Newfoundland and Labrador
b) Manitoba and Saskatchewan
c) Alberta and British Columbia
d) Quebec

Christmas across Canada
1. C Winnipeg earned this title because its frequent and abundant snowfalls each December virtually guarantee a white Christmas, providing ideal weather for skating, sleigh rides and roasting chestnuts over an open fire.

2. D Belsnicklers or Mummers wear masks and costumes, disguise their voices and sing and dance before going to the next house. If the host can't guess their identities, he or she must come along with them and join in the holiday fun. 

3. B Along with daily gift-giving, a traditional Inuit Christmas often includes a festive dinner that features caribou, seal or arctic char with tea and bannock.

4. C A traditional réveillon, or "waking up," is eaten after people return from Midnight Mass.

5. C
 Santa was the attraction in Toronto's Santa Claus Parade. In 1906, Santa arrived in a coach pulled by four white horses. In 1982, the parade became a nonprofit organization. The last Eaton's store closed its doors on Feb. 26, 2002. Today, the parade has grown to more than 25 floats, 24 bands and 1,700 participants.

6. D Japanese oranges arrive in Canada during winter. As a result, they have been making spirits bright and filling the Christmas stockings of kids of all ages for well over 100 years.

Christmas entertainment
1. D "Barenaked for the Holidays" is actually a pretty traditional album featuring "O Holy Night," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and a duet with Michael Bublé.

2. C The Canadian content of this "South Park" episode refers to "The Wizard of Oz" via lines such as, "I don't think we're in America anymore" and "The Only Road in Canada," which alludes to The Yellow Brick Road, and our prime minister as an illusionary figure controlled by someone hidden behind a screen.

3. D John Candy and Catherine O'Hara also appeared together as cast members of "SCTV," Canada’s long-running, irreverent sketch comedy series with Dave Thomas, Rick Moranis, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy and Martin Short – all of whom gained fame in movies.

4. D Pierre and Margaret Trudeau had three sons, two of whom were indeed born on Christmas Day: Justin in 1971 and Alexandre, who was born on Dec. 25, 1973.

5. B "The Huron Carol," or "Jesous Ahatonhia," ("Jesus, He Is Born") was written in the native language of the Huron/Wendat people by missionary Jean de Brébeuf in 1643. The English version "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime" was written by Jesse Edgar Middleton in 1926.

6. D 
As TV fans are well aware, the sole Christmas-themed episode of "Corner Gas" was originally telecast on Dec. 12, 2005. Although this was the first show to be filmed in Rouleau, Sask., during winter, snowmaking machines had to be called in to provide the white stuff.

Christmas miscellaneous
1. D Every year, approximately five to six million Christmas trees are grown in Canada; nearly all of them are harvested from Christmas tree farms. On average, Canadian trees need seven to 10 years to reach the right height for harvesting.

2. C For years, Canadian Tire's TV ads showcased Santa Claus and Ebenezer Scrooge trying to decide which was the better reason for Canadians to do their holiday shopping with Canadian Tire: the great selection or the low prices.

3. D The first podcast of Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message was made available on TV, radio and in audio and video formats on the BBC's website. The Queen's first podcast was also accessible at the same time as the TV and radio airings.

4. D With more than 2,000 members in Canada, the United States and other nations around the globe, SCROOGE was originally established in 1979 in an effort to "stop wasting large sums of money on gifts that don’t seem to make anybody much happier for that much longer."

5. C Native to Mexico, poinsettias are a perennial flowering shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall. Poinsettias represent more than 85 per cent of worldwide potted plants sales during the holidays.

6. D Hollowed-out turnips with a candle inside are a unique Labrador holiday tradition. Meanwhile, in Labrador City, there's a Christmas Light-Up Contest, in which people decorate their property with sparkling lights and ice sculptures.

Christmas bonus questions
1. D More than 50 per cent of turkeys consumed each year in Canada are eaten at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Canada is the eighth largest global turkey producer, which works out to 19.6 million gobblers per year. The United States is No. 1.

2. A Most retailers in these Atlantic provinces defer sales to the day after Boxing Day. In 2006, Nova Scotia lifted its shopping ban on Boxing Day. However, last year the majority of stores stuck by tradition and remained closed on Dec. 26.


Player's scorecard
16 to 20 correct = Santa still rules…but you did darn good!
11 to 15 correct = A Dickens of a good score
6 to 10 correct = Almost all the reindeer love you
3 to 5 correct = You put the “grrr” in Grinch
0 to 2 correct = Bah! Humbug

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