I love Christmas. Making the presents, wrapping them, putting them under the tree that is loaded with ornaments that track our family’s history—it makes me obnoxiously happy. We’re together to relax, celebrate, retell stories, and laugh.
Each year we try not to overdo the excessive buying aspect of the celebration. We don’t always succeed, but this year we’re behaving well. Each present is something we thought about before slapping down the credit card or clicking the “submit” button online. There’s hand knitted socks, hats, blanket, shawls and mittens; the folks who wanted hats, got hats—I didn’t mess around. Each knitted project also served a purpose for me; I made it a point to learn something from each present. Perhaps it was a new technique, a new yarn, a new design… each one kept me engaged and taught me something in addition to the joy of giving.
If the presents under the tree aren’t made of fiber, they’re probably books. Throughout the year, I keep my eyes open for titles that I think my loved ones might enjoy. Could be a book of walking tours through their new neighborhood or cookbooks that are unusual or something they might have mentioned, but haven’t bought for themselves. I like how this practice keeps Christmas alive throughout the year.
One of the most fun parts of the celebration is stuffing everybody’s stocking with little goodies: a favorite candy (not a whole bag!), some cool spices from Trader Joe’s, a handmade bar of soap or moisturizer and something funny that they’re not expecting (no clues given here now!) We’ve got the same stockings that the kids had growing up—and David’s stocking from when he was a young boy—ironically it’s knitted and has his name knitted around the cuff.
The tree is up, fully lighted, but won’t be fully decorated until our daughters arrive. That’s just something we do together. We all gloat over our favorite ornaments, and you can hear “I remember this one”… over and over again. There’s Christmas music in the background, but not the regular stuff. David has collected CD’s that really mark our season: Charlie Brown, the Canadian Brass albums, Dave Bruebeck’s Christmas album and many more.
This year all three women will be cooking together in the kitchen; it will be a menu that satisfies all of us, regardless of allergies, gluten intolerances, vegan regs, paleo regs, and Mom trying to lose weight. Per Tim Gunn, “We make it work” and it’s joyful. Every once in a while we find a recipe that all of us can eat, like zucchini noodles, and then we get really happy.
Lots of good, old memories get stirred up this time of year. I appreciate remembering them and having them come alive once more. When I was a kid, my dad was Santa at the church fair. He rode around town on the fire truck and then sat for hours in a throne like chair in the school auditorium while long lines of nervous children waited to sit on his lap and tell him their wishes. He was the absolute best Santa in the world: he listened, smiled, laughed, and looked soooo real. I have a photo of me sitting on his lap completely unaware that it was my dad. It’s one of my favorites. He made my childhood Christmas full of wonder and love.
Another standout memory is how every Christmas Eve, I’d hear sleigh bells and thumping on the roof. My heart would beat a million miles an hour, and I’d pretend to be sound asleep, just like Santa expected. Years later, I learned that it was Papa Louie Andiorio who did the honors every year. That was one of the many memories I have of that special man.
This Christmas, there mostly likely won’t be snow here at the Cape, and I probably won’t see Santa at the mall, but I will look for him in the sky and listen for reindeer hooves on the roof knowing that David’s probably throwing the pebbles. Merry Christmas to all.