I remember getting to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house early in the afternoon. We would wait all day. We’d have deviled eggs and pate on crackers, watch TV, have dinner, and wait until 10 pm (I think) to open the presents that were waiting for us under the tree. Greg would get so anxious. Grandpa always used big C9 colored light bulbs on his tree. It always was the kind with tiny needles. I think he used to have bubble lights on it too. I always thought it was so beautiful.
Ciocia Jan always had Christmas Eve at her house. We would always make sure Gram got the first present. Ciocia Jan’s parties had the most and best food: pancit, ginger beef, mostaciolli, ham, you name it, she had it. And the most and best desserts, too. She made us sing carols to all the neighbors and break open a pinata outside. She also had Santa come visit. I think she went all out because she loved us all so much. She wanted everything just right, and did her best to create memories and traditions we would always remember. Even though she was bossy, I’m thankful she did that for us.
I remember doing the paper routes with Timmy and Greg during the Christmas season. They would get tips, so it was fun. It was always cold and snowy but we didn’t care.
Getting the Christmas tree was always traumatic. I am still in recovery about that, but I’m getting better. Enough said.
We would go to midnight mass. I would sing in the choir. I wore a dress and nylons. One time I got dressed in my closet and ran into the door. Another time I tripped going into the church, ripping my nylons and skinning my knee. I always loved mass at Christmas. There was something special and mystical about being out in the middle of the night with many other like-minded people. The songs transported me. I still consider singing my way of praying, even if I don’t believe the same things I used to.
We used to watch all the Christmas specials: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Donny and Marie. I loved them. I feel bad they really don’t make specials anymore.
I remember making cookies ever-so-quietly in my tiny garden apartment while Stefanie was sleeping in the next room. I was watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on my 9″ black-and-white TV with the volume at a whisper. I had a fresh-cut $10 tree someone brought me back from Wisconsin in their pickup truck. We were so poor, but it was one of the times I was the happiest.
I remember the first Christmas Eve I had to let Stefanie go with her dad. I was distraught. I couldn’t stop crying. Bill, who I had been dating for only two months, came over with some champagne and sat with me for a little while. I was so glad he did that. It meant a lot.
When the kids were little, Bill and I used to stay up very late Christmas Eve night putting stuff together. We’d eat a bag of M&Ms and watch Christmas shows.
I remember when we lived near Chicago, how we would stay put at our house and wear our jammies all day. We would open all our gifts, then Dad and Mom and Greg and Amy would come out. We would open more presents, then Bill would make big breakfast, and we’d all crash and nap wherever we landed.
One Christmas Eve, Orphie at four pounds of fudge while we were at mass. We put the kids to bed, and Bill and I stayed up watching the dog pace, vomit, poop, drink, and repeat all night. We were sure we’d have to tell the kids the dog was dead Christmas morning. But Orphie survived it.
We got Daisy on December 23rd. I kept her in the bedroom with me on night while I was wrapping gifts on the floor. We didn’t know each other well. I spoke to her words of love, and pet her gently. Suddenly, she took off and started doing crazy-laps all over the bedroom, tearing wrapping paper, scaring the bejeebers out of me. I think she was happy.
I remember the Fiber One Christmas. You’ll have to ask Bro about that one.
These thoughts of Christmases past comfort me. I have had so many good Christmases. There’s just so much love to remember.