1. Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas.
Hmmm - I'd say that I have to have the lovely Scandinavian sweets to which I've grown accustomed since moving to Minnesota. Rosettes, krumkake, that kind of thing. There's also Ostkaka, Swedish for "cheesecake," though it's nothing like American cheesecake. I may try to make Ostkaka this year, if I can find the ingredients and the time to do some baking over the weekend. Since my Grandma died in January, it's going to fall to us to maintain some traditions we want to maintain. (Though I bet no one's making Lutefisk this year...)
I would be remiss if I didn't mention potato sausage as another treat without which it just ain't Christmas. Hopefully my Mom has tracked some down for our feast this year!
2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?)
Since Beloved and I are still settling into this marriage bit (two years and counting) and our families are widely separated (my family in Nebraska, my in-laws in Eugene, OR and the Twin Cities) we don't have a family tradition yet. This year I'm making something for Christmas Eve just for the 2.75 of us. Christmas Day our church hosts a Christmas Dinner for those who wish to join - usually there's about 20 people there.
That having been said, this year will be special. We're returning to Nebraska for my Grandma Janke's 90th birthday on the 30th, and on the 1st my sister-in-law and some good friends from college are giving us a baby shower (right after the Nebraska-Auburn game, of course - priorities!). Should be a lovely trip home.
3. Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog.
Hot chocolate - delicious if it's made strong enough and mixed thoroughly. Dark chocolate melted into milk is especially good. I used to dream about the river of chocolate in the Willy Wonka factory - I could imagine just how creamy, warm and chocolatey it would taste.
I don't know if it's "wassail," exactly, but I do think that spiced cider is also delicious. My grandma used to sometimes mix it with orange juice for a bit of a kick; it's definitely a different taste than straight cider. But what I most especially love is a German concoction called Gluhwein - mulled wine served warm. It's also known as fusswarmer or "footwarmer." Yummy.
Egg nog. Warm milk and eggs, booze optional. What's to like, again?
4. Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist?
Peppermint, definitely - otherwise, what's the point?
5. Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it?
Nope, never had it - but I'd like to try it sometime.
Edited to add: Well, I am APPALLED with myself that I forgot to include a question about the crown prince of holiday foods--the fruitcake.
Feel free to add your thoughts on this most polarizing holiday confection.
It's been YEARS since I've had fruitcake. Honestly, I don't know anyone who makes it anymore - is it becoming some kind of urban myth, like the people who wake up in their bathtub on ice with a big stitched-up scar where their kidney used to be?