I Wish I was Home For Christmas – If Only in My Dreams
Not being home for Christmas is something that I’m sure a ton of people experience. For me, my definition of Christmas has changed over the years. My parents are gone and my family is all over the place. So now my holidays are with Chip’s family. When I say (or sing – no worries that audio I will not include), I’ll be Home for Christmas – If Only in My Dreams. My dreams are actually my memories.
The hardest thing for me is that Chip‘s family Christmas is very nice and loving and generous, but other than gift-giving, it’s nothing like the ones my family shared. So I’m going to ask you to relive with me a couple of my favorite Christmas memories from growing up. These aren’t in any order.
Santa Was Stolen From Our Front Yard
In Upstate NY, the ground freezes early and snow starts falling in October and you’re getting lots of snow in November. So people put their Christmas lights and decorations out in November and things don’t thaw until March. People see your lighting choices for a long time.
From before my brother and I were born, my parents put out a Santa on our side lawn and would attach it to the bird house pole.
When I was a freshman in high school, some one stole our Santa. We were disappointed, and it was a little sentimental, but we knew we’d survive.
But then, something unexpected happened. My dad was telling the story at his store; and it was overheard by a reporter from the local paper. The theft of our Santa became a front page story.
The story described how badly my parents wanted children and with that hope they bought this Santa thinking someday their kids would enjoy it. My dad told them that kids in the neighborhood would look out their windows and say good night to Santa; and he wished someone would return him. And then, he told the reporter how sad his daughter was that her Santa was gone.
Remember, I was a freshman in HS. So when I went to school the next day, everyone asked me about Santa and some people teased me asking if I still believed (I do btw). So I came home and told my dad about the reaction to Santa’s mysterious disappearance as well as how “not so happy” I was that people were teasing me about it.
Well, that same night, one of our neighbors called. Our Santa was in a snow bank outside their house. Santa was returned. And, you know what? I couldn’t have been happier that he was back.
Until a few years before my dad passed, in 2003 at 78 years, he put that Santa out for us. That Santa was easily over 45-50 years old.
The Cute and Scary Stuffed Tiger
My godfather took his job seriously. He was warm and made special time for me. Every year he gave me wonderfully thoughtful and fun gifts. Except for when I was 4.
He showed up with a sitting stuffed tiger that was bigger than me.
I was scared to death. Everyone was making a fuss about how cute it was. And he really was. They also wanted to take a picture of me with it. So, they did. You can see how tentative I was hugging it. As the story goes, I couldn’t stop crying the more they tried to get me to like it.
My sweet, thoughtful godfather had to take it back with him.
Matching Christmas Pajamas
For years, my parents used to buy us matching Christmas pajamas. The deal was we were supposed to wear them Christmas Eve and have them on for Christmas morning. As I think of it, I guess it was for photo ops. Thank goodness there was no Instagram then.
One year, the pajamas were red stripped and had little hats. My hat was kinda like a Hollie Hobby doll’s and my brothers was similar Gilligan’s from Gilligan’s Island.
When I tell you my brother hated that hat, it would be too weak a word. He despised it. He wished he was allowed to play with matches so he could burn it.
But my parent’s made him wear it, but only for the pictures by our cardboard fireplace as we opened our toys. The thing he most wanted to avoid.
The pictures are priceless to me. Now that he can use matches, I have to make sure he can’t find the pictures, because he would burn them. Then the story would lack verifying evidence.
The Annual Tree Trimming Party – Can you say Brandy Alexanders?
Although of varying size (some years 10 people some years 70), each year, two weeks before Christmas, my family had a huge tree trimming party. The only rule for the party was … everyone there had to put one ornament on the tree.
There was food and drinks. Sometimes Santa came. Sometimes there were gifts. It was also always fun.
Before signature drinks were popular, the signature drink of the tree trimming party were Brandy Alexanders. My dad had this oversized liquor shaker.
It was heavy, silver with a spout. He’d put the drink ingredients in the shaker with a bunch of ice. The way you knew the Brandy Alexanders were ready was that the outside of the shaker became frosted. However, the way it became frosted was that it had to be constantly shaken.
My parents were entertaining for most of the time. So we would pass the shaker around and people would shake it until they couldn’t take it anymore. Then it would go to the next person. And people had muscle aches the next day from shaking.
But… mmm. mmm, they were delicious. Yes, I was allowed to taste them without my parents being arrested for letting a minor take a smidgy widgy sip of a drink.
A few years, we had nuns from our school come to the party. They guzzled those things. I guess it beats sacramental church wine.
A Tree Trimming Sub-Story
Oh yeah, and we also used the icicle garland which was an absolute mess.
We had two cousins who were a year apart and polar opposites.
One would put the icicles on the tree one by one.. His brother would throw them on in handfuls. He’d then mess up the ones his brother patiently and precisely put on the tree.
There’s a similar story regarding sunflower seeds. I’ll save that for another time.
Why I find this funny is beyond me. But back to other stories.
After I Moved Away
After high school, I was one of the 12 people, from my class of 284, who moved away. I felt the world was big and there was excitement beyond my dreams waiting for me. After college, I ended up in Boston.
By 30, I came to appreciate my home town more than anyone could know. Big cities have much more to talk about , see, do and shop. I have made some amazing friends. Big cities also have people who are opportunistic and many times willing to be inappropriate to get what they want. This is nothing like where I grew up. Our little community was honest, giving, easygoing, had good humor. and respect and appreciation for family. It also has my heart.
At Christmas, we would go to my parents’ house. And nothing was better than the feeling of getting off the exit for my town. The excitement grew the closer we got to my house. My stomach would start to flip as we drove up my street. And, then I would see Santa and my eyes would tear up a little.
When we’d walk into my parents house; there were big hugs and a fuss was made. There was a sampling of food and cookies on the table; and, there, decorated as it always was, stood the live Christmas tree perched in the old red and green stand.
But most importantly, I was home.
This can’t happen anymore.