Posts Tagged ‘holidays

11
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: midnight mass

[Part 11]

Mom and Dad had some presents under the tree early, the ones from them and Grandma and Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kay, but they were off limits until Christmas. The ones from Santa, of course, came later. I didn’t have to worry about those, but these were there to taunt me.

Most of them were clothes. Who cared, right? But some of them, the smaller ones, probably—the strangely shaped ones, right?—those were toys.

If I was good enough (if I begged and pestered my parents enough, nicely, gently), they would let me open one present—just one—before we left for midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I don’t think they for one second expected me to not beg. I don’t think I ever convinced them of anything. I think they always had one intended for Christmas Eve. But it was one of those child-and-parent games we played. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: midnight mass’

10
Jan
12

The 12 ways of Christmas: dinner

[Part 10]

Grandma's cake looked a little something like this.

Whereas turkey was the center of Thanksgiving a month prior, Christmas Eve dinner revolved around a turkey and a ham! Those were from Dad. It was a food orgy—like Thanksgiving plus Easter … plus a birthday party.

My uncle Dennis always brought a cold tuna-noodle salad that the food of the gods as far as I was concerned.

Aunt Kay always brought dinner rolls and home-made chocolate candies. Starch, salt, sweet and fat, the chocolate-covered pretzels were irresistible.

Grandma spent a day stewing probably the best baked beans in the world—with bacon and molasses and brown sugar … and bacon. It may one day just save the world.

Mom made her potato salad, unequalled on seven continents, with the sliced hard-boiled eggs on top and drifts of sprinkled paprika.

Continue reading ‘The 12 ways of Christmas: dinner’

05
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: the lights

[Part 8]

This is disgusting to me now, but it would have delighted me as a kid.

It wasn’t December if my family and I were not driving around looking at other people’s Christmas lights.

We started in our own neighborhood, admiring the wild and colorful houses, and the simple monochromatic houses in white, gold, red, blue. In my little kid’s logic, I always assumed the blue houses must be Jewish. Or something. Just a feeling. I wanted to say so, but it seemed rude. I never knew any Jews growing up—at least none that I knew of.

My mom and I especially loved the ones that looked like gingerbread houses with sidewalks lined, every angle of the roof highlighted, doorways and windows lit. Our house should be like that. I studied them carefully as we slowly passed, making mental notes between audible gasps every time a new extreme came into view.

I really appreciated the people who did their trees. Those were the ones who really cared. Random placements among the branches were popular one year. Then our neighbors began to include the trunks, too. A few years later, a tightly wrapped cluster of lights on the trunk with a contrasting color densely filling up the branches was en vogue. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: the lights’

04
Jan
12

O’er the fields we go, packing all away

We just finished un-Christmasing the house. I have never before seen so many dead pine needles all at once. It’s weird to have things back to normal, but I’m getting used to it.

I came home to find Jeff pulling ornaments off the tree. He was putting them in the wrong boxes, but I didn’t say anything. It may seem like it does’t matter, but I have a system. They should go back in the boxes they came from. Different colors should be distributed evenly to ensure equally even distribution next year when we hang them on the next tree. But at least they’re all put away. We can deal with it next year. Continue reading ‘O’er the fields we go, packing all away’

02
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: the cookies

[Part 7]

Santa's givin' you some sugar this year!

There was nothing in particular that linked my mom’s cookies with Christmas, except that we never made them at any other time of the year. You can have eggnog in the summer, but why? Grandma could make her baked beans for Easter, but why? No, these things were for Christmas only.

I always looked forward to those rare and special nights when my mom dragged out her big electric mixer and the glass and metal bowls and wooden spoons. Soon the kitchen countertop would be covered with bags of flour and sugars, syrups, shortening, butter (it was always margarine, but we called it “butter”), eggs, nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, vials of food colorings and flavorings, shredded coconut, candied cherries. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: the cookies’

02
Jan
12

The 12 Ways of Christmas: the shopping

[part 5]

Christmas shopping with my parents was a game of self-deception the whole family could play. Mom and dad got to spend more money than they had any business pretending they had access to. And our end of the bargain, us kids, was simply to not stumble upon or identify any of the gifts our parents bought right in front of us and made no special effort to hide from us.

Rather than getting a babysitter, they would take me and my younger siblings to Toys R Us and dispatch me to drag them to the other end of the store to distract them (and me, too, really) with … I don’t know … things I knew they would not be buying for us. Which basically limited our environs to baby toys and board games.

The unspoken threat: If you see it, you won’t find it under the tree. And if one of us should happen to see something, we knew better than to say something. We just contented ourselves knowing that, out of the entire, mind-bending inventory of the store, what ended up under the tree could still be anything. Almost. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: the shopping’

17
Dec
11

The 12 Ways of Christmas: the cards

[Part 4]

My family is a collection of procrastinators. It wasn’t until Christmas was staring down at us from the other end of a week that we actually pulled ourselves together to send Christmas cards.

I’d dust off the glitter from the old cards we didn’t use from the previous year, and mom would add stacks of new cards she’d picked out. We always seemed to have old, unused cards. Sometimes the old ones were a little yellowed or discolored, and the glue on the envelopes tasted funny, so we’d save those til the end. Continue reading ‘The 12 Ways of Christmas: the cards’




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