Christmas was always a really special time for my family, mostly due to my mother’s love for the season. From non-stop baking and cooking, shopping, wrapping presents, Christmas music playing around the clock and preparations for Christmas Eve- the actual holiday of my childhood, I can’t talk about the holidays without thinking about my mother. Sadly we lost her in 2009, but her memory lives on through the customs she created. If she were still with us, I know that she would have figured out a way to make the best of our celebrations despite the extraordinary circumstances we are faced with. She loved a good challenge. So, in the spirit of the season and in memory of our mother, I asked my sister, Angela, to recount some of her favorite memories from the Christmases of our childhood.
Amy: I know this is a hard question, but, what is your favorite Christmas memory?
Angela: That one year that we opened every single present, including the stockings, before mom and dad even got out of bed.
I feel the need to elaborate here. Every year, my parents threw an epic Christmas Eve party at our house. Extended family, friends, co-workers… as a kid it felt like the whole city was under our roof. The festivities included a gift exchange, scratchy music on the record player, the adults playing cards and a visit from Santa (usually my father in costume). The energy was so infectious that I got sick every damn year due to overstimulation and had to be sent to my room for a little while to calm down. I still love parties!
This one year, maybe 1987, my sister and I rose early on Christmas morning to find the house still a mess from the night before and my parents sound asleep. This was unlike them as they were always up before us, coffee brewed, video camera set upon the tripod (my father was the first on the block to have one!). Claiming to have the flu and needing another hour of sleep, we convinced them to let us open one gift each. An hour later, mom and dad clumsily stumbled into the living room to find it in complete disarray; wrapping paper everywhere, a New Kids on the Block tap in the VHS player, me playing with my boombox talking with a friend on the phone and Angela with her Teddy Ruxpin. We opened everything. Now whenever anyone in the family says they have the flu, we can safely assume it's the self-inflicted kind.
Amy: What’s one food from Christmas you can’t live without?
Angela: Mom’s sausage, pepper and potatoes. She cooked all day leading up to the party. It was a feast with homemade spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, roast turkey and one year even a rack of lamb. But the hot Italian sausage, green peppers and onions baked in the oven was typically one of the first things to go.
Amy: One of my favorite food memories is the year you got drunk off of gram’s chocolate rum balls. You were probably 5 years old and they left those boozy chocolate delights a little too close to the edge of the table. No one realized you had eaten so many until you fell off the stool.
While the holidays may looks and feel different without our mother, we are grateful for the memories we have of her and for the traditions she left with us. Take time to laugh and play with the ones you love; tomorrow isn't promised.
NOTE: This Christmas I'll be remaking this photo and watching Wonder Woman 1984