Well it seems I have weathered 47 Christmas’s so far. I have been shopping for the ones I love for 3 weeks now and I am out of gas! I am sitting in my bedroom and was just e-mailing back and forth with a cousin of mine and talking about the old days when my cousins, Aunts and Uncles would all gather at my Aunts home in Queens and have such a wonderful time. Those days are sadly long gone now, replaced by memories and the occasional Facebook post, 2 or 3 line e-mail to “all attached”, once in a while a phone call or maybe you subscribe to your families Twitter updates (Uncle Joe LOL). Don’t get me wrong, life goes on and we have families, children etc. I wonder often though how our parents ( I should say moms) kept it all together, how did everyone live within 30 minutes of each other and still work, play, plan and meet on every holiday? I know by talking to my cousins we all miss those days. But I am getting off track here so back to the reason for this post. ( this will happen often)
What I remember about Christmas, first, everyone said merry Christmas or happy Hanukkah regardless of what race, creed or color you were, for some reason this time of the year seems to break down those class walls and put everyone on equal ground. I was in Big Lots last night and the line was so long it stretched around the cashier and into the aisles. And yet as frustrated as we all were the people on the line started to let those with children (at the breaking point of shopping with mom) move to the front of the line, how human was that? That is the Christmas spirit. But again I am getting off track. So here is what I remember about Christmas, and don’t!
I remember family gathered and looking forward to seeing my cousins. For the life of me I can only remember maybe 2 gifts I got as presents in all my childhood, I realize that it was the family togetherness that was the most special, because I can remember just about every Christmas with my family. In all my childhood (which some would say lasted until I was 40) I cannot remember but maybe those 2 gifts. That’s a good thing, I remember opening them and being really really happy. I was raised right and remember most of the conversations and who wore cool clothes and my cousin dressing up as Santa at my Aunt Rose’s house, I remember the smell of the food (big Italian family here) coming from the kitchen. My uncles playing cards downstairs and the occasional argument how someone was playing too slow.
But all in all that is what Christmas is all about, generosity, family and staying close to the ones you love and love you. I bet I am not alone when I say I remember maybe a few of those presents I got, but of all the Christmas’s with my family, I remember more of what we shared and talked about then any gift, more about how I spent that time with my mom and brother and what we ate and spoke about. How I looked up to my cousins who represented our family so well. The time spent with family.
Today I am going to barrage my kids with gifts, that’s ok, really, because my anticipation changed when I became a father. No longer did I want that tie, car or any other materialistic product or feature. Today, I love to see the look on my daughters’ faces when they open each present, that is worth more than the lottery. Oh, I know they will forget when they get older what they got but for now it is priceless, I can see they are like me, they insisted on going to Nana’s house because it is tradition, the warm cozy feel my mother makes her home, the food she cooks just blows everyone away. They are on the path, learning that it is family and togetherness that makes the holiday not the gifts. Being generous to the less fortunate. Now let me say, they are not going to refuse them!!! but it warms my heart to know that they want more the togetherness and family than the gifts.
This post is dedicated to my mother Teresa, Aunts Lucy, Millie, Lee, Rose, Ronnie and Marion who single handedly filled us all with so many happy times and thoughts even though we never knew how hard life really was for some of us and our parents.