Christmas Eve – 2014

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In five or six hours, Muri and I will head over to my daughter’s house to spend Christmas Eve with her family.  In their tradition, Christmas dinner is on Christmas Eve.  The kids will be be nearly bursting with excitement, making it hard for them to behave at the dinner table.  They’ll each likely get in trouble once or twice and bedtime will take forever, in spite of Santa Not Coming threats.  After that, there are presents to assemble.  So, this is my time for Christmas nostalgia. I’ve shared here before that my mother loved Christmas as much as anyone I’ve ever known … my Dad seemed to go along for the ride.  And yet, my favorite memory of my Dad is attached to Christmas.  After I’d stopped believing in Santa, I’d get to go out with Dad to deliver and collect presents from relatives, a story I told in Fatherhood – A Dad Story:

We’d set off into the winter night after my brother and sister had gone to bed, just me and Dad in the turquoise and white Buick Special.    He probably smelled of Aqua Velva and Half and Halfme and Dad pipe tobacco but what I remember are the crunch of the tires on frozen roads and Christmas lights reflected in the snow.    There were four stops to make but my favorites were the homes of my mother’s brothers, Jim and Richard.   By the time we’d get there,  the cousins would be in bed and it was just me and the grown-ups, sitting around the table, me with a cocoa or a cider and the men with highballs, as they talked about grown-up stuff like politics, news and family as if I were one of them.    One time, Uncle Jim said to me while my father was in the other room, Your father doesn’t say much but when he does, he really knows what he’s talking about.    It was a good thing for a boy to hear about his father from one of his uncles.    Then we’d load their presents in the car and head on to the next house.    I was Santa’s helper.    I was The Man, or at least had him to myself.

Mom was like I am (yes, actually, it’s the other way around) … she loved decorating the tree and treated each ornament as if it were a memory.  When we’d find one broken in the bottom of the box, she’d mourn it just a bit before moving on to the next one.  But more than most, Mom practiced the spirit of the season.  I posted this story of the demise of her favorite ornament back in 2010 in a post titled The Ornament:

I remember one Christmas when I was a boy, about twelve years old, I’d guess.   My mother liked clear ornaments, too, and her favorite was a crystal bell.   Since it was her favorite, it was my favorite.   This momparticular Christmas, an aunt and uncle … and their children … stopped by to visit.   I remember which aunt and uncle it was but in this online world, who knows will end up here on Bud’s Blog, so I won’t mention names.   As the adults were talking, I watched one of the cousins reach between the branches of my parents’ tree, wrap his fat little fingers around my mother’s favorite ornament, and squeeze until it burst with a pop.   I started to yell at the little monster but Mom interceded.  It’s OK, she said.  It’s only an ornament. She gave me one of those, You-Be-Quiet looks.   After the cousins left, I tried to bring it up again but all she said was, It’s Christmas, Buddy.

Good memories to bring along on Christmas Eve.  I hope your Christmas Eve is filled with your own.

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