Holiday memories

by | Dec 1, 2019 | Every Day Life

Illustration by Cliff Thomas

The Yuletide season is the perfect culmination of the three previous seasons it follows coming in with a whirlwind entrance. The smells of cinnamon and pine combined with the coziness of hearth fires and the twinkling of Christmas ornaments glinting off the string of lights strung so carefully around a sapling, make for the most enjoyable winter nights. The images of Christmas and all it embodies is enough to warm us to our core no matter the temperature.
For some, the holiday season will bring on a flurry of baking escapades, full houses with frenzied party preparations, and an overall harmonized menagerie of guests and revelers well beyond the twenty-fifth of the month.
For others, it is a time of pondering and reflection of the year that is rapidly coming to an end. It’s a chance to make peace with any sowers of discord in our lives or a chance to make resolutions to keep those sowers well out of our way.
For my son and I, it represents a time to be thankful for all we have and for finding ways to help others be as fulfilled as we are. For this reason, I have tried hard for all of Raff’s 10 years to make Christmas an experience itself and not about gifts.
Sure, we exchange a few gifts with family members and friends. But instead of an emphasis on receiving, I have made it a tradition with him that we take a trip, go on adventures, volunteer where we can, and explore new things. Thankfully, Raff loves to travel as much as his dear ol’ mom.
He is, however, doted upon heavily by his grandparents so he has no shortage of gifts to open Christmas Eve. And I make sure he has one present to open on Christmas morning from Santa. But then he and I will take off on whichever adventure we chose. I usually let Raff pick, as it is his Christmas present from me. And I hope that he continues to choose to travel and have quality time with family over a plethora of gifts that he won’t even remember after a month has gone by.
Sometimes I worry that Christmas has become so over marketed and consumerized that we lose sight of what we should be bringing us together. This year, I decided to visit with several individuals who had experienced Christmas in bygone eras, curious to see what their fondest holiday memories were.
What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Most common answer: Watching their children open presents on Christmas morning.
“The first Christmas with my first two grandchildren — two boys born 12 days apart.” – Margaret C., 71
“My Dad took us to look at Christmas lights when I was about seven. Santa came while we were gone. Sad to miss Santa, but glad to get presents.” Janet W., 64
“My baby girl, Rhonda, was born December 12,1965. It was the best Christmas ever.” Mary B., 77
“My first Christmas that God gave me my baby, Joshua.” – Lynn C., 72
“Popping popcorn and then stringing it as garland for the Christmas tree.” – Joan P., 63
“When I was convinced for a full year that my parents were Mr. and Mrs. Claus because I saw my mom kissing my dad who was dressed as Santa.” – John J., 80
What is your favorite Christmas gift you remember receiving?
Most common answer: Barbie
“My father sent presents for my siblings and me from Germany during WWII. He didn’t make it through the war, but I still have my German jewelry box that has a ballerina in it that dances.” – Bernadette S., 75
“My younger brother giving me his old paint tin.” – Mary Ann K., almost 70
“My sister giving me a book, “The Silent Passage About Menopause,” with a note on it that said: “Buy your own damn hat.” I had asked her for a hat like the one Katie Couric wore in the Macy’s parade. I laughed and laughed.” – Margaret C., 71
“A life-sized doll when I was 5.” – Judy P., 58
“A camera when I was 12. I was so excited and took lots of pictures.” Janet W., 64
“A bicycle when I was 12 years old.” – Art E., 75
“A two-foot tall doll that walked. – Jane C., 67
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Most common answer: Decorating the tree.
“All of my family getting together on Christmas Eve for treats and games.” – Jane C., 67
“My mom told us Santa hid our presents all around the house and we would go find them.” – Joan P., 63
“Spending all evening on Thanksgiving night making homemade Christmas ornaments from leftover ingredients or scraps from the big meal: gingerbread and cinnamon dough we would cut into shapes, garland from leftover peas and carrots that would dry out, silver ornaments shaped from the washed aluminum baking pans, popped corn and cranberries strung on baking twine, and oranges with cloves stuck in them that we would hide in between the branches.” – Bernice B., 90
“Having everyone around and giving them gifts on my birthday, December 24th.” – Mary Ann K., almost 70
“My mom singing us to sleep with Christmas hymns. There were five of us kids, and we all slept in the same bed. I never felt lonely at night when I was young.” – John J., 80
What would you ask Santa for if you could have anything?
Most common answer: Good health and happiness for my family and friends.
“To give Marilyn Monroe one last foot rub.” – Art E., 75
“Nancy Pelosi in the White House.” – Margaret C., 71
“To have enough money to get me out of this nursing home and into one that has some good looking gentlemen! This one is all old ladies!” – Bernice B., 90

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