Q. What kind of tree do you like?
A. We always get a live Fraser Fir. When the tree is up and lit, it probably looks like a Christmas decoration factory exploded nearby and everything landed on our tree. But we like it…
Q. Do you have any special traditions?
A. Everything about Christmas is a tradition to us—putting the tree up after Thanksgiving, going to look at Christmas decorations in our pajamas, having a birthday celebration for Jesus on Christmas Eve with cake, candles, and the whole shebang. We open our presents on Christmas Day, which is the correct way (curiously, my wife was not aware that this is the correct way until she married me).
Q. Have you ever experienced a white Christmas?
A. Yes. In fact, every year is a white Christmas in Orange Beach, Alabama. The sand here is the color and consistency of sugar. So while you may ski where you are, we’re in shorts and t-shirts with temperatures around 75, and rarely break an arm or leg.
Q. Favorite present ever?
A. My first BB gun. Which leads me to the next category…
Q. Favorite Christmas movie?
A. A Christmas Story. The first time I saw that movie, I was in shock. The way the dad gives the kid a BB gun was very close to how my dad gave me my BB gun. My parents had convinced me that I was not going to get one that year. What I really love about that movie is how the narrator (who is the grown-up version of the child in the movie) is able to look back on his childhood with an adult’s perspective and still be able to explain exactly how a child feels.
Q. Favorite Christmas food?
A. In our house, it goes by the name of “The Green,” (as in “You are making The Green, aren’t you?”). I am aware that our name for what is actually some kind of congealed salad is not very appetizing, but…my grandmother made it, my mother made it, Polly’s mother made it, and now, I suppose, tradition demands that Polly make it every Christmas for the rest of her life. Actually, if I had my way, we’d have it year-round, especially during the summer. It’s a delicious combination of lime jello, pineapple, cottage cheese, and pecans. You will find the recipe at the end of this post.
In addition, I do my part in preparing the Christmas dinner. My job, every year, is to smoke a turkey to perfection on the Big Green Egg.
Q. Favorite Christmas song?
A. I love Christmas songs so much that not only would I listen to them all year long, to answer this question I’ll have to delve into specific categories:
- Children’s: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
- Classic: “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Andy Williams
- Off-Beat: “Merry Christmas from the Family” by Montgomery Gentry (this is hilarious)
- New Arrangements of Classic Songs: This is, without a doubt, a three-way tie between the Temptations and Gordon Mote. You must hear the Temptations’ arrangements of “Rudolph” and “Silent Night.” Also, Gordon Mote’s version of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is fascinating.
- Christmas Song That Invokes a Memory: Every time someone sings “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” I think of my mother. She died when I was 19, but I heard her sing that song every year in church around Christmas. So far, nobody does it better than my mama.
- Grand Prize Winner: Here it is, the whole ball of wax…and it’s another tie. I have to go “Labor of Love” by the Isaacs and “Mary, Did You Know?” by Mark Lowry and Buddy Green. If you have not heard “Labor of Love,” get the Isaacs’ Christmas album today. It’s not only my favorite; it’s one of the most unusual Christmas songs I have ever heard.
As for “Mary, Did You Know?”…did YOU know there are several hundred people who have recorded this song? You can download any one of them from iTunes, but wouldn’t you like to know which one is the very best? The #1 version (in my opinion) is by Sonya Isaacs, and it is also on their Christmas album I mentioned earlier. Interestingly, however, considering all the major recording stars who have done this song, a very close second to Sonya Isaacs’ is Mark Lowry’s own version.
(By the way, how can someone be that funny, write a song that great, and sing like Mark does, too? Why did the talent truck park so long in front of Mark’s house when he was a baby?)
Q. Favorite new Christmas album?
A. Charlotte Ritchie’s new Christmas album, December, which just came out last month. It is FULL of awesome songs!
As promised, here is the recipe for “The Green”!
- 1 large box and 1 small box lime jello
- 1 20oz can crushed pineapple
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 16oz container cottage cheese
- 1 8oz container cool whip
- 1/2 cup (or more) chopped pecans
Boil pineapple and jello. Stir often. Simmer for a few minutes. Add cold water and put into an ice bath. Stir well and allow to partly gel. Mix in remaining ingredients until all is incorporated. Pour into a pretty serving bowl and chill in refrigerator until completely gelled.
Enjoy every moment of this Christmas season. I look forward to reading about your favorite Christmas things in the comments! So come on, let us know. (That’s “let us know,” not “let it snow.”)
Merry Christmas, everyone!