Being that it's Christmas Eve I'm reminded of the really great times we had when the kids were little. The years of traditional gatherings that, at the time, I didn't realize would mean so much. I was reminiscing about them today and they made me smile. I bet you have your own - or maybe you haven't begun them yet - but I thought I'd share ours.
When we first had Jeremy we made a decision that we would stay home each Christmas Day. We opened our house to family and friends but we were determined to stay put. I'm sure, like many of you, we didn't want to rush around dragging the kids from place to place. We wanted them to be able to play with their new toys, watch their new videos, etc. That meant any visiting was to be done on Christmas Eve. Thing was, Mike had an Aunt who always hosted Christmas Eve so I married into the tradition right away. We knew our yearly plans so there was no guesswork as to what was happening where. We didn't need to think about invitations that came our way because these were two calendared days that weren't flexible.
Aunt Patricia (we called her Treesh) had a tiny three bedroom apartment that she rented in Troy, walking distance to RPI. She had no driveway for parking, not enough room for all the guests, hot water radiator heat that was always turned up too high and a kitchen without any counter space. Anything that needed doing was done at the kitchen table. That poor table acted as bar, prep area, dish drying space and coffee pot holder. Truly, we couldn't maneuver freely. Once each person secured a spot they didn't do too much moving. If something was needed somebody further down the line would get it and pass it forward.
The dinner menu was consistent. Cold cut platter, ambrosia, mac salad, cheese and crackers, onion dip and chips, pigs in blankets and little hot dogs drowning in warm barbeque sauce. Dessert was typically Little Debbie's store bought cookies (with some homemade added). The appetizer was my favorite though, stuffed clams - they were the best!
Christopher was such a cut up as a youngster that we would leave him with Treesh while we went to Christmas Eve mass. Jeremy sat quietly in the pew but Chris was under the pew more than on it. I'm sure plenty of you know what it's like to stifle a little one during the quiet of church services. They can cause such a scene and they know they're doing it when you can't truly respond in the manner you'd like... So enraging!!! We learned early not to take him; it wasn't worth the frustration or the sweat he caused. By chance, however, Treesh lived directly across from St. Paul's church. I think it's on Hutton Street? Right near the Knotty Pine Restaurant. Well, Treesh made a habit of watching Chris so we could attend service which also meant we got prime off-street parking dibs since we got there so much earlier than the rest of the family. They didn't go with us to church. That worked for us! Seemed every year we’d hear the same complaints about not being able to find a parking spot. We didn't have that trouble.
Treesh opened all her gifts on Christmas Eve admiring every one. She'd sit on the floor by her tree. A very artificial one, I'm talking 1950's plastic fake with the wide limbs that looked like roller bristles! It always looked the same, with a variety of decorations mostly made by her mother. We were used to it and would have been shocked to see anything else :-) The little kids were about the only ones able to squeeze thru the stuffed path of seated adults between the living room and dining room so they did the running delivering her gifts to her. They always fought over helping her unwrap. As if they weren't going to get their chance the next morning??? It didn't matter they'd get right in there fussing to be the assistant or get a better view of the gift. They were also delivery helpers because Treesh gave everyone presents too. She would read the sticker, find the recipient and point the child to the person they needed to hand the gift over to. The little ones always got confused as to who was who so she made it easy for them by pointing.
For whatever reason, Treesh gave us all the same gift yearly. I'm thinking maybe because she could buy them in bulk? I don't know. However, every year we got a pair of socks. It was a running joke. They came in handy though. Who doesn't need socks? Traditions are fun, our Christmas Eves were great.
Aunt Treesh passed away a few years back. We put socks in her coffin with her :-)
Whatever your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day plans are, I hope they're wonderful. I'm so thankful for the years I got to spend with family, creating memories to cherish. I want more but I've got plenty to dwell on. This will be a tough one for me, for my family and for Christopher's friends who can't grasp what has happened. I pray you'll spend a moment and give us strength. We could use it. I hope you remember your traditions past and present and cherish them. I also hope you'll find some joy, like I do, in knowing he's with his Aunt Treesh once again, in their socks at Jesus' birthday party. That's something special.
Merry Christmas and thank you for reading.