Driving home from work in the rain today, December 23 and just 2 days before Christmas, I couldn’t help but agree with everyone who is complaining about no snow. Now, you won’t hear this particular complaint from me often. I don’t like the stuff. I don’t like to be cold. I don’t like to shovel it. I don’t like to walk in it, drive in it, or dress for it. But I do enjoy looking at it (from inside, and through a window ;). This time of year, it ought to be snowing, but it’s not.
My heart began reminiscing back to all of my favorite memories. I don’t want to ever forget them, so decided to rush home and list them. It will not mean much to anyone who isn’t a part of them, but perhaps it will inspire you to share yours over the time you will spend with family and friends this holiday season.
As a very young child in elementary school, I remember lying on my back under the Christmas tree when the living room was dark. I would just stare up at the lights and sparkles. I was scared to death to touch any ornaments. My mother had some with “angel hair,” in them, which I think are strands of glass the width of hair, and I was always afraid of getting cut!
We would go to church at midnight, sometimes at our home church. We would rush home to get in bed for Santa to come. I loved how quiet it always was outside. When it snows, it always seems to make things quiet. (Is it just me?)
Sometimes, we would go to a Christmas Eve party at my Aunt Norma’s house. I don’t know where her house was, but I do remember driving alongside of the freeway. (Silly memory, huh?). She had a very fat Christmas tree in a small living room, and I loved looking at it. There were always snacks and things for us, and the adults would gather in the basement and sit at tables and talk. One year, I remember a cousin telling us that at midnight on Christmas Eve, all over the world, every animal would bow down on its knees to worship Jesus. I believed them, and always wished to see that. Sometimes, we would go to my Aunt’s church for service at midnight. Wherever we attended, when it was midnight, I was always amazed that I was up that late with so many other people, I loved the lights at church, and loved that we sang Christmas songs.
I loved the flannel pajamas that my mother always sewed for my sister and I. I loved that I always got new slippers, and one year I got the pair I always wanted. They were huge pink, fluffy ones. One year, I wanted a doll whose hair would grow. Her name was Velvet, because she wore a velvet purple dress. When I opened the box I thought was a doll, I got the Chrissy doll – the other doll whose hair grew. I didn’t think she was very pretty. But before long, I was opening another box the same size, and inside was the Velvet doll I wanted!
One year, I had the “Hong Kong flu” and was sick enough on Christmas Eve that the doctor came for a house visit. Another year, my brother gave me my very first bottle of perfume. It was a bottle of “Charlie” perfume. I now know that it smells like an old lady, but I still love the smell just for the memory of my childhood that it brings back. (And yes, I own a bottle).
I loved Christmas dinner, especially the mashed potatoes with a hole in the middle for the butter to melt, and a few sweet pickles to eat with them. We would often go outside and play on the hockey rink that Dad would make for us on the front lawn. Everyone would come down, and all the boys would play hockey and the girls pretend to figure skate. It was fun (until you had to pee!)
During Christmas vacation from school, we would get together with our friends, look in the newspaper for movies to see, and have our parents drive us to the Mai Kai Theater in Livonia. I don’t think I ever watched a movie there without eating snowcaps 😉
My first Christmas in the Army, I was stationed in Panama and remember a military police pick-up truck driving around the base with Santa in the back on a loud speaker yelling, “Merry Christmas!” He was wearing a Santa’s red hat, and a boxer shorts bathing suit.
When I was stationed in California, I drove down to Uncle Al and Aunt Jean’s house to visit cousins. The thing I remember the most about that was always wanting to make sure everyone knew they were welcome at my house. I’d never felt so at home apart from my own family’s home, in all my life and in all of my travels. Years later, I was stationed again in California and became very close with more relatives, Aunt Joanie and Uncle George. I learned a lot from Aunt Joanie (about a lot of things), many of which I still recall and use now… Theirs was another home away from home for me. I’d always hoped to do that for someone else.
In Korea, it always snowed, so it FELT like Christmas. But one year in particular I remember spending it with my roommate and several other soldiers in the barracks that we were close friends with playing Monopoly all night long.
Since having children, my favorites have remained focused on time with those I love. When Rory was not quite 4, he walked out in the morning and looked at the presents and yelled, “Holy Kadiddlehoppers!” My dad had snuck over early in the morning. There was no way he was going to miss seeing the kids’ faces when they got up. We laughed so hard when Rory yelled that. We had no idea where he’d heard such a word!
Oh! And who doesn’t love the Christmas classics? Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, and It’s a Wonderful Life? We loved building forts and watching them cuddled in blankets drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows!
My favorite gift was the year I bought the kids snorkels, cameras, and bathing suits in anticipation of a trip to Hawaii just six weeks later.
Christmas morning, Beema and Papa always came over when the kids opened their gifts. Papa is gone now, so that hasn’t happened for many years. We miss that.
After gift opening, we always drove to my brother’s where everyone gathered for a gigantic breakfast. The kids always loved spending time there, and would sleep in the car all the way home. It’s been since 2009 since that tradition ended. We miss that tradition as well.
This year is the second year as an empty nester, so I am enjoying new activities become traditions for my home, and for my family. In all honesty, I spent a good amount of time being sad about the traditions that abruptly stopped, but am really beginning to embrace the new ones.
For starters, this year, I don’t have to shovel my way out of the driveway. I like that 😉
Merry Christmas everyone!