Saturday, December 18, 2004

God Bless Us Everyone...

I have yet to find any Christmas spirit. The only reason that I can think of is that we don' t have a Christmas tree. Tomorrow we have plans to go to my Mom and Dad's house to decorate their Christmas tree. I always loved decorating the tree. We used to play the same holiday album year after year. It was all instrumental and done with organ as the only instrument. We would bake cookies and laugh and the night ended with all the lights off but the tree and we would sit and talk until bedtime.

One year my dad invited a friend of his who doesn't have any family in the area. He grew up in Long Island NY. Apparently it is a Long Island tradition to hang little bits of candy like Hershey kisses and peanut butter cups from hooks on the tree. He brought the candy and the hooks and we agreed it seemed like a good idea. Chocolate was hung with a snowball's chance in hell of making it to Christmas day. Three days later, through no fault of her own, my sister tipped the tree over trying to reach for the candy on the top branch. My father's favorite tree-topper and more than a few Christmas balls were shattered in the process. Long Island tradition or not we haven't seen even a candy cane on our tree since.

In the first grade we made very large Christmas tree ornaments with paper wreaths and pictures of ourselves taken by the teacher during recess. Every year I hang it at eye level on the front of the tree, my father moves it to the back, facing the wall. We play a game moving it over and over again while the other isn't around. I am twenty-seven years old and a foot-long paper ornament from the first grade still gets hung on my family tree. There is something unbelievably comforting about that.

In kindergarten we made the ornaments that I'm sure everyone makes involving elmer's glue and macaroni over a small cardboard Christmas tree. I took home the wrong tree. On the back is written the same first name but the wrong last name. I had brought home a classmate's project. That ornament has hung on my own tree every year since! The damn thing retains only three pieces of elbow macaroni but its ribbon holds onto a branch of pine every single December. Did I mention that I grew up in a Norman Rockwell illustration?

To me Christmas means tradition. I am man enough to admit that a few years ago when I came home to RI from NJ for the holiday and found all sorts of things different, I ended up in my parents basement, in tears that things would never be the same. This year is a New Jersey year and so will be spent with the In-Law's, in New Jersey. I am not complaining because I do enjoy going there but it also reduces what normally would be a day-long celebration with my extended family to a couple hour long event with my immediate family. Luckily I love the traditions of The Wife's family as well, and so I have a great time there. On top of that my family on Christmas eve has someone dress as Santa Clause to hand out gifts to the children. I have been successful of talking my way out of it thus far but this year I would be expected to dress in the suit and do the whole Ho-Ho-Ho thing. If I am three states away in New Jersey that would be a bit difficult.

Along with Thanksgiving, Christmas, to me, is about getting together with all of your family. Both my mother and my father have large families and so each holiday is spent with at least twenty and sometimes up to forty people. To me anything less seems sad. I have a co-worke who spends both of those days with only her husband and her son and nothing to me could be more depressing. Yet she is filled with a jolliness that only comes with someone who appreciates the holiday like a kid. At this point in the year as a kid I would hardly be able to contain my excitement of the impending celebration and I wish I could summon the same kind of enthusiasm this year.

tomorrow, decorating my family Christmas tree will help but, to be honest, just writing this and reminiscing about past christmases has already helped.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Good Kwanzaa, I hope everyone has a good winter holiday season and that everyone the world over please wish and pray for peace.


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