Twenty Holiday Memories…completely out of order
1. I was tiny; maybe four or five, and we were spending part of the holiday with my aunt. She had a bunch of her crew (she was in film production) over for a party. As they arrived her cameraman handed me a giant box. I was jumping up and down and my mom told me that I was mistaken the gift was not for me. The gift was indeed for me, even though the man had never met me before. It was a giant stuffed lamb, which I named strawberry, and my mother has her to this day.
2. Brian Head Utah. We spent Christmas there when I was five or six so that we could ski. The tiny cabin that we stayed in had a loft, and there was a window cut through to the living room. I got to use the Christmas tree as my nightlight. My mother got terrible altitude sickness on that trip if I remember correctly.
3. One year when I lived in Oregon my Dad and Stepmom got tickets to the Manheim Steamroller Christmas concert for my roommate and I. We went to our salon and got all dolled up for the event. It was a blast.
4. The year that my husband and I got married we surprised our families with the marriage over Christmas in GA. We had a reception on Christmas Eve Eve at my mother’s house and got married at the courthouse four days later. On our way there we got the call that told us we would be foster parents when we got back home.
5. Around age ten I got a present one morning with a picture of a new Golden Retriever puppy in it. Merci was one of the best dogs ever. She died thirteen years later in my arms.
6. Another year, around age ten I got a brand new cabbage patch doll. It had been the number one request on my list, and it was the most popular toy that year. The first thing that I did was give the doll a bath. We spent all of Christmas day, with my father’s side of the family all over the house, and my naked doll mooning all of us, hung in front of the fireplace to dry.
7. Around age seven I remember sleeping in the hallway outside of the living room trying to catch Santa. I saw my mom in the living room but never caught her. I don’t know what time the poor woman finally got to sleep that night.
8. We started the ritual of “Night of the Drunken Elves.” When our twins were two. If you have ever done all of the assembly necessary to put together Christmas toys for little children, then you know why the alcohol is necessary. In later years my husband and I got smart and started recruiting extra helpers.
9. The year that the twins were conceived my husband and I had three foster boys through the juvenile system living in our home. They were all visiting with their parents for the Holiday. Our house was pretty much dry at that time because of them, so my husband and I bought wine and vodka and I made Finnish spiced wine for Christmas Eve. I was horribly sick to my stomach for the next week and couldn’t understand how I could possibly be suffering from the alcohol for that long…until I remembered how late my period was.
10. Christmas Sabotage. For two short years we were lucky enough to live in a row of four houses with some of our very closest friends. The guys started pranking each other by messing with the exterior light decorations. They got to the point one year where they were wrapping people’s cars up in lights. It was absolutely hilarious.
11. At my mother’s parent’s house, when my grandfather and my great aunt were still alive, Christmas was pure chaos. Too many people, dogs, packages, and food in one place at one time. I know that it drove my father nuts. My grandpa was louder than four average people by himself.
12. At my father’s parent’s home they made pounds and pounds homemade candy every year. I loved the glass candy lollipops and the caramellows. I remember that one year my grandmother made me a special batch of peanut brittle with no peanuts per my request. Each year my grandfather would carry a huge lighted star up to the top of their grain silo where he mounted it for the season.
13. Our close friends came to our house about five years ago to celebrate our holiday together one evening. One friend had brought along a bottle of port that he forgot to drink. I ran outside with it as they were leaving, and handed it to his wife. She set it down on the hood of their car to give me a hug and then hopped back in the driver’s seat and turned on the windshield wipers. The bottle of port went sailing through the air in slow motion, before landing in the driveway and exploding. I will never forget the look on her face.
14. I have an old friend up in Northern Michigan whose sweet elderly mother makes anatomically correct gingerbread cookies every single year. She makes both male and female varieties. I swear it is the truth, I have eaten them, and they are delicious.
15. When I was four or five I spent an entire season carrying around a set of three teddy bear cookie cutters. Everywhere we went I would whip out my cutters and paper and markers and make people a set of three Christmas bears. My mother still uses the sugar cookie recipe that came with the set.
16. The first time that we got Disney passes was at Christmas time when our kids were three and five. On our first visit we took them to the Magic Kingdom and then hopped to Epcot for the Christmas Pageant that night. They probably walked six miles that day on their tiny legs and loved every minute of it. So did I.
17. The year that my twins were three I had them enrolled in ballet class. Of course, there was a holiday recital and they were dressed up like teddy bears. The entire time, while the rest of the children performed, they just stood there frozen. I think that I have video of my daughter picking her nose while the other children tried to dance.
18. The year that my husband and I were married we went to midnight mass with his family. I sat in my seat while everyone went up for communion because I am not Catholic and I know that I am not supposed to. When my mother in law got back to her seat she shoved half of her communion wafer into my mouth. She does not like for people to be left out.
19. The year I spent Christmas as an exchange student with my host family we had a big Christmas Eve dinner. For special occasions the French drink a different bottle of wine with each course. There were many, many, courses. My host father kept topping off my glass, and after the third course I when I got up to go to the restroom I knocked over my chair. I was extremely embarrassed.
20. I remember lying in bed one Christmas morning as a teenager and counting the number of mornings that I had left to experience the holiday as a kid. I was pretty serious as children go. I remember thinking that soon the fun part would all be over and life would get really hard because I would be out on my own. I was right, life has had it’s difficult moments, but I never had any idea how truly wonderful it would be. I asked my father once, which Christmas had been his very favorite. I didn’t understand his answer at all at the time. I do now. He said, “The next one.”