In the spirit of the season, I’d like to offer you some of my warm and fuzzy holiday memories. What can I say? Being with family brings out the softy in me.
Okay, so admittedly, I don’t actually remember this first one, but I’ve seen the home video enough by now that it feels like I do. It was Christmas of 1983, so I was 18 months old (yep, I’m showing my age here) – my second Christmas ever. Seeser was almost five years old, so she was Mommy’s little helper. Mom would sit by the tree, reading the tags on the gifts and handing them to Seeser, who would deliver the gift to the appropriate person.
They had a nice little system going, and I was carefully observing. Mom picks up a box, reads the tag – “To Papa, from Uncle C.” – hands it to Seeser, who hands it to Papa. So I think to myself, “Hey! I bet I could do that!” So I toddle (more like waddle – I was a large child) over to the boxes behind Mom, pick one up, and bring it to Papa, who dutifully replies with an exuberant “Thank you!”
Hmmm… I like this game.
I get another box and bring it to Papa. “Oh, thank you!” he says, chuckling a bit. Then I get into a groove – box, hand-off, thank-you. Lather, rinse, repeat. Soon, everyone’s cracking up as Papa’s gift pile continues to grow, amid cries of “Oh, thank you!” from the recipient.
Of course, you can imagine what happened next – the gifts ran out. The pile under the tree was gone, all stacked beside Papa’s chair now. I looked with consternation for a moment between Papa’s pile and the now empty space beneath the tree, and then I did what any reasonable 18-month-old would do: I went to Papa, took the top present from the pile, and walked it back to the tree. I then proceeded to do this with every present in the pile. Including the ones that actually belonged to him.
Clearly a job in mail delivery was not in the cards for me.
I’m mildly ashamed – but unsurprised – that my childhood Christmas memories are generally dominated by memories of the presents themselves. I remember when I was four or so, and I came out on Christmas morning to find that Santa had brought me a Cabbage Patch Kids playpen. I remember the year my dad took me and Seeser grocery shopping in the week before Christmas, completely forgetting, when he went to put the groceries in the trunk, that all our Christmas presents were in there, and I got a sneak preview of the teal Barbie ’57 Chevy we were getting. I remember the year Seeser and I (but let’s face it – it was really for me) got a Super NES and I screamed out loud because I was so excited. And I remember the year I made Mom cry by acting like such a spoiled brat because Seeser got one present more than I did (even though mine probably cost more money) – I’m still ashamed of that one.
But, for what it’s worth, I also remember seeing my cousins and second cousins and first cousins once removed at Christmas dinners at Aunt P.’s. I remember the first year I got to go to midnight mass – I fell asleep waiting for it and had to be woken up at 11:30 to go. I remember the fuzzy softness of brand new flannel pajamas – our traditional Christmas Eve gifts – and waking up in them on Christmas morning. I remember the smell of pine in the warm glow of the colored tree lights, and singing carols with Seeser. While the commercialism and material greed may have gotten the best of a lot of my memory, there are still other things to remember.
My last Christmas with Dad was a tough one. Not because of the cancer – at that point, we all still firmly believed he could and would beat it; we didn’t know it would be his last. But it was tough. My grandfather – his father – had just passed away, and his girlfriend and her three kids – who had lived with us like family for three years – had recently moved out. It was a bit lonely, and coming up on Christmas, Dad wasn’t feeling much holiday spirit. As the big day approached, I asked Dad when we were going to get a tree, because there wasn’t much time left, so shouldn’t we get one soon? But he responded by telling me that he thought this year we wouldn’t get a tree, ‘cause “it’s not a big deal” and “what’s the point?”
I was shocked. No tree? What was Christmas without a tree? I could feel the tears filling my eyes, but I put on (what I thought was) a brave face and told Dad that I thought he was right. (Besides, the previous year, Dad had poorly planned when tying the tree to the roof of the car, leaving me trapped inside and him and Seeser trapped outside. So maybe it was for the best.)
I think I hadn’t yet perfected my emotional mask in those days, though, ‘cause Dad saw through it. Christmas Eve, Dad came home with a tree and we decorated it together with Seeser. Then we had a picnic dinner of nachos on the floor in front of the brightly lit tree. It has become one of my most treasured holiday memories, that Christmas picnic with Dad.
Sometimes, it’s those little moments that catch you by surprise and become the most special.
Day 21 of LaBloShoeMo: The Brown MoccasinsOkay, these are totally not moccasins. They are faux moccasins. Just like my faux Uggs. But whatever, it works. These are only a few months new, and thus, not totally broken in yet - wearing them for too long will still give me blisters. But the support and cushioning is very comfortable, so once the back of the shoe gets worn in a bit, these will be buttery soft and comfy. Plus, they're flat, and we all know how I feel about height in my shoes. (Though apparently tall is sexy. Or at least, that's what people whisper when a friend of mine walks in the room. Of course, this info comes directly from said friend, and thus may not be totally credible.)