So, at this time of year, I always get to musing about holidays past, and the tales that go along with them…as I search for the perfect gift for RE, I realized that I cannot recall a single actual gift given to me for the holidays as a child. Not a single one. But what I do recall is the moments, and of those, I recall so many.
I remember my little brother, every year, running up and down our long hallway shouting “it’s Christmas, it’s Christmas”, usually well before the sun was up.
Our handmade, by my mom, stockings that all coordinated and matchy-matchy…and always one for the dog, too.
Our Christmas tree…each year, brought down from the rafters the day after Thanksgiving, the wire branches fluffed and filled out. Decorated with a melange of ornaments made in school by my brother and me, purchased here and there, each with a story, made by mom when she and dad had no money and need to decorate their “charlie brown” tree, but so many had stories to go along with them. Topped by the “Pregnant Angel”, whose irony I didn’t fully understand until I was much older…she perched atop our very fluffy tree with her skirt poofed out, making her look quite preggers.
Midnight mass, with my mom, singing Christmas Carols with the Catholics at St. Josephs and looking for Santa’s sleigh in the night sky.
Going to Gran and Pappy’s and trying to hard to sleep while Pappy watched John Wayne movies at top volume and Granny’s tree with the real tinsel on it that was so pretty and so messy.
Hanukkah menorahs, lit and sparkling, each night and latkes, so yummy and served up with applesauce and sour cream. Picking wax off the menorah and playing dreidl with Mike. Hanukkah parties with all of our friends, and Jay taking a picture of his butt.
Jammies, sleepy parents, and a few very excited kids…I couldn’t ever understand why my parents were so tired on Christmas morning. Now I get it: no presents until mommy and daddy get coffee.
Watching White Christmas with mom, singing along to all of the songs. Watching The Nutcracker with the whole family…only to have daddy come out dancing just like Mikhail. Only not as good. 😉
And now that we’re on our own, we have new memories. Our first Christmas tree, purchased at a lot on Aurora Ave, followed up with a trip to K-Mart for a tree stand. Lights all over our apartment, making our Coors Light wallpaper border shine and sparkle. Our disco ball perched jauntily atop the tree (it’s there every year!).
Our teeny faux Christmas tree, in a pot, sitting on top of our fireplace in our second apartment, which was too small for a real tree. And our Hanukkah party, complete with drunken friends, brisket and latkes. YUM!
Our new home, our first “real” home, and a real Christmas tree, shoved into the trunk of the Civic. Finding our own ornaments with stories…making our own little memories. The year after we were married (holiday 2004), we wrapped all our gifts with silver paper with white stars (still using that damn paper, damn Costco) and Pottery Barn green cotton ribbon. When we joked that we had enough of that ribbon from wedding gifts that we’d be using it, a friend who worked for PB snagged us a whole roll of it! We STILL have green PB ribbon coming out the wahoo.
And this year, with RE, taking out our little faux “charlie brown” tree and lighting it up in her room, decorating it with ornaments from Michael’s holidays past, and lighting up her tiny face that the elves came and brought her a special tree. And pulling out all of our special ornaments: the ones Tammy sent us while she was in Germany, the ones we purchased the year she was in Iraq, so she could be “with us” on our tree, and the Gabriel and Ryan ornaments I have from their first Christmases. Just need one for miss Izzy! The “2004” ornament with our wedding picture, the vibrant red, orange and yellow chuppah glowing against the blue sky. The “2006” ornament with Ryan in candy cane striped leggies sitting under the tree. Maybe there will be a “2010” ornament with another sib? We’ll see. The “peace” ornament Alyssa gave us one year, my “snowbabies” ornaments that I so treasure. Our beautiful, silver, modern menorah that glows to prettily with all eight nights lit up.
And in all this remembering, what I remember most of all is that feeling…that the holidays really and truly are about spending time with friends and family and those who mean so much to all of us…Our friends ARE our family, and they mean as much to us as though we were actually related. I know we all know it, and I know we all get caught up in the gifting, and partly, it’s because of how much so many of us enjoy an excuse to find something fun for those we love, but in the end, it really IS about that feeling. And as Mastercard so eloquently puts it, that is “priceless.”
To all of you, no matter what you celebrate, whether it’s Hanukkah, Solstice or Christmas, we wish you a very happy one, and a very merry one, and may your homes be as warm as your hearts.