As I’m writing this, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with that comes the Christmas holiday season, which has me feeling a bit nostalgic for past Christmases.
My earliest memories, when I was a child, were spent Christmas Eve “tracking” Santa Claus (through the voice of weatherman Stuart Hall on WCAX-TV) as he made his way around the world heading, I just knew, directly to our house. Then before being herded off to bed, my two brothers and I would make sure there were milk and cookies waiting for Santa and Rudolph.
Come Christmas morning, the three of us would head to the tree to find, yes, Santa had arrived and marveling at the gifts and that the cookies and milk were gone!
After opening presents and having breakfast, we’d get dressed in holiday clothes and head off to my Dad’s parents’ home in Burlington, where there would be relatives and food (especially tourtieres) and more presents!! And then by late afternoon, we’d be on the road to Milton to my Mom’s parents’ house where, you guessed it, there’d be more relatives, food and… presents!!
Even today my brother Tom reminisces, not about what presents we may have gotten, but the fact that we were on the road again to see what lay in store for us. Can you tell that we were the only grandchildren on one side of the family and we had just two cousins on the other for so many years?
Now I could tell you about one of my Mom’s earliest memories when we kids were little – oh, like the time she and her best friend, Deedee, who lived next door to us, got shnockered on the Brandy Alexanders that my Dad had made. It was Christmas Eve, and they barely got toys wrapped and under the trees for us all – but that’s a story for another time!
As I grew older, one Christmas stands out in my mind. In my high school years, after my third brother, David, arrived, my oldest brother, John, and I went to Midnight Mass with my Mom while my younger brothers would go to church at 8 a.m. on Christmas morning with Dad. Well, one year John, Mom and I got home around 2 a.m. after Midnight Mass, and my Mom asked if we would help her get the presents out and under the tree. John and I looked at each other like, Okay, but where the heck are they? We hadn’t found her hiding spot, ever, in 15 years. Well, Mom beckoned us downstairs to the basement where there was an old (and I mean old!) sofa, and she proceeded to lift up the seat portion, and there, to our wondering eyes, was this very large storage area with gaily wrapped Christmas presents! She laughed and told us how we would bounce, jump and play on the sofa all year round, yet we never discovered her hiding place.
As time has moved on, I’ve lost my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, yet I’ve seen the addition of in-laws, nieces/nephews and, most importantly, my husband, to my family. Each Christmas season brings with it transitions – as one person steps out of my life, a new tradition is created, however small, to try to fill that void, and with that, I’ve said to myself many times: Everything is new again.
What are some of your earliest memories of celebrating the holidays? Do you remember the special people, long gone, you celebrated with? Is there one particular sight or sound today that brings back a pleasant memory for you?
Don and I together wish all of our VAE friends a Merry and Joyous Christmas and holiday season, however you may celebrate it!