Christmas in my family could be described in one word... Opulent
I have never seen so many wrapped packages under a Christmas tree, presents for everyone! .
Christmas Eve was always at Grandma and Grandpa's house, a huge mix of family, co workers, friends of friends and people I would only see once a year. We opened some presents, the adults drank and we all ate. I got to play bartender and they all loved me because I poured heavy. Mom and Dad always let me open one present on Christmas Eve at Grandmas house, but we usually ended up opening a couple when we got home that night.
Mom and I were always together but somehow she managed to get her
shopping done, sometimes even sending me to the food court at the mall while she
picked up a thing or two. The biggest gift each year, the "Santa" gift
was reserved for Dad to buy, he usually picked something we
could do together like remote control airplanes or cars that we had to
build, a telescope. Unfortunately Dad and I didn't get to spend too much time together because he worked so hard. Looking back it seems like those pricey Christmas presents were jinxed. The cars would crash, the telescope broke and we spent less and less time together each year. But there were always dozens more presents for me to open. I have never seen so many wrapped packages under a Christmas tree! After my niece and nephew came along you could probably triple the amount of gifts under the tree, we were all very spoiled.
We always had Christmas day at our house, first thing in the morning just me and mom and dad opening presents, then all the relatives would start coming, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my sister in law's family. Heck anyone that didn't have anywhere to go. It seems like there was always a little friendly competition between the ladies to see who could bring a new and unusual dish to show off. Many of my favorite "pot luck" dishes came from past Christmas dinners. Aunt Myrna always had the most unusual along with my sister in law's mother Mary Jane, she always brought a Greek dish.
Christmas was all about the presents to me back then, Its not a stretch to say that I had near 20 presents each year just from mom and dad, not to mention the gifts I received from relatives. Dad would take me shopping for mom's gift. I loved picking out just the right thing for her. One year Dad and I went to Rodeo Drive to shop, that suited me quite well, but Dad almost had a heart attack when I picked out a purse for mom at Gucci with a matching wallet and cigarette case of course.
After my father died in 1985 Christmas just wasn't the same, grandma and
mom stopped hosting parties and just had dinner with the immediate
family, I don't remember much about Christmas in those days, but I think
we went to my brothers house. I remember when Mynde and I were living
together those were some broke ass days, but we had a Christmas tree,
with maybe a couple of presents. The closest thing to the opulent days is when I lived with Cheri, we bought BIG Santa gifts for each other back then. I bought Cheri a bicycle and Cheri bought me a tall rolling Craftsmen toolbox.
Now most of my family is gone... death, divorce and distance prevents us from ever going back to the good ol days. However this year I find myself being grateful for the kind gestures of friends and even strangers. Last week I received some Christmas cookies in the mail from someone Ive never met in person, and once again more cookies from a Facebook friend this weekend. Yesterday I was very excited to receive 4 cards in the mail on the same day. It used to be I wouldn't even open a card right away unless I thought there was money in it. Today I cherish each and every card and cookie that comes my way. Ive been through a lot this past year. Its a miracle that Im still alive to enjoy this Christmas. I think Santa was waiting for me to learn a lesson.
This will be my first Christmas without my Mom. I'm not going to
lie, its difficult but my friends are there for me to make sure I enjoy Christmas. Its time to make some new memories.
Christmas isn't about the presents, its about sharing with the people you love and care about. To some people that sounds like a Hallmark card, but to me its a wonderful reality.
My first Christmas