Family,  Texas

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Growing up, I always thought Christmas would be the same. There would be lots of presents, good food, lounging around and lots of laughter. After I got married, Thanksgiving morphed into one of my favorite holidays and Christmas was pushed aside. Part of this was the whole sharing of families deal that comes with any married couple. The only good part about that was the families were separated by three counties, not three states. The bad part was that we had to fly out there and shuffle around.

So, as I’ve gotten older Christmas has changed. Part of it is that instead of it being grey and the landscape mostly dead, everything is green and more times than not it can reach 80* during the day. We went home for our first two married Christmases, Chris was in grad-school and I had a job that was flexible with holiday time. But, the weather up in Melbourne was cooler and it tended to feel a little more like Christmas.

Once we moved to Miami, Christmas changed. It was hot. I was wearing shorts, we didn’t have a tree and since we both had jobs that were relatively new we couldn’t go home. Honestly, that was probably the suckiest Christmas ever. I know, I know, there are suckier Christmases in the world—I could’ve been starving or poor or who knows what else—but, for me, it wasn’t Christmas.

I don’t think I’ve been home for Christmas since that last time when we lived in Melbourne, mostly due to work circumstances, but if we go home it is for Thanksgiving.

The other big thing that I didn’t realize would change is the presents. There is nothing to give! Everyone has everything! It’s annoying to have to wrap up a shirt or something of that manner and not have a gift that is meaningful to give. Presents have morphed into a bigger gift such as buying a new SLR camera a few years ago or this year when we bought two photographs from some photographers we really like and enjoy. But, it isn’t the same. The only good part of this is that my niece Zoe is getting to be of the age where I can get her things she will enjoy. I was terribly tempted to get her a bunny costume a la A Christmas Story but dad got me out of the idea. I mean, I did want to be that aunt! At least she’s a girl and not a pre-teen boy, right?

A few Christmas memories that stand out:

  • Getting tennis rackets. Dad took my brother, Curt, and I to the old tennis courts at my old high school (then my future high school) and we played some form of tennis that involved hitting a ball across the court. Oh, I also remember my dad finding some teenage love note stuck in the wire fence around the court and then didn’t let us read it!!
  • Opening up a box and finding out that I really did get the leather jacket I’d been eyeing at the mall. My parents really tricked me on that one! I honestly thought it was a lost cause. I wore that sucker until it had a hole in the left sleeve.
  • Watching my brother set up this race track and then helping him play with it as the cars as went round and round and I think we made loops and tried to get them to fly off.
  • As we got older we always got one big movie of the year. I’m sure at first they were VHS and moved to DVDs later, but as we started opening presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day we would open the movie and then watch the movie that night as we snuggled down on the couch with our dog Sandy. I’m sure we fell asleep mid-way through sometimes.
  • One year, in highs school, my friend Erika and I went and sat on Santa’s lap. My mom had been lamenting that we hadn’t had a Santa photo in a few years and how it was sad we were growing up so I surprised her with a photo of us. She cried happy tears!
  • At least once, maybe twice, my Grandad took my brother and I out to go shopping for our parents at the Parks mall in Arlington sometime during our two weeks off before Christmas. This is (was?) a big two story mall that had a ton of shops. I remember walking all around the stores, I’m sure Grandad was entirely tired, and Curt and I would pick out gifts to give to our parents. The only thing that I remember buying was a clay coffee mug with a bluebonnet on it for my mom. I’m fairly certain dad got a shirt or maybe something Dallas Cowboys related. I also remember buying a lot of candy in the candy store for my brother.
  • Oh, how could I forget…Babysitters Club books. I think I read books 1-4 and 9-12, the two sets I got, by the time I returned to school. I still have them, tattered covers and all. That was 5th grade, I think the real turning point of my bookwormishness.

Those are just a few things that I can pull out of my brain right now. I know there are others. Putting tinsel on the tree. Mom, Curt and I decorating the tree while dad was t.v. in the evening. Going to my grandmothers house in the afternoon for more present opening and eating oh-so-delicious turkey and dressing.

Ah, that is Christmas.


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