If you were to turn back the dial ten years, you would find me in the small, upstairs room of my childhood home with one eye open watching the digital clock across the room for the exact moment when it became Christmas. I would have a novel of a text for my best friend queueing to be sent, as she always spent the holidays with her family down south, and an iPod playlist packed with holiday covers blaring from my headphones. I no longer believed in jolly old St. Nick, but the spirit of the season was so infectious that I couldn’t help but anticipate the magical day of December 25th.
Here I sit, ten years later, in my own apartment, on Christmas eve. The SNL Christmas special, of which I know by heart, is on mute while carols play from my Mac; the dishes are rinsing as I wait to wash out my hair dye. The front door is hidden behind a barricade of presents and laundry bags. Oh how the times have changed.
This is the first year that I wasn’t home for Christmas eve, and I didn’t think that it would effect me so. I’ve been trying to keep busy, cleaning here and there, dinner with my favorite coworker and her girls, and touching up on my medium chestnut brown, but I can’t help but watch the clock and think, “Ah, 11:50. I remember what I used to do then.”
Christmas was always a big holiday for my dad. When my brother and I were little, he would read Twas the Night Before Christmas underneath the end table that now holds my family photos and quote books. He read it during the years when the tree was upstairs.. and downstairs.. and upstairs again. We always finished setting up the village under the tree after reading the story and adorned the coffee table with treats for Santa and his reindeer pals. Days before that, dad would pull us up to what my students would consider the most ancient computer around to watch the Santa-tracker and email the big guy our Christmas lists. We’d visit the local holiday aficionado that fosters a makeshift-Santa’s workshop every year for the children in town. We’d lap the neighborhoods and vote on the most adorned houses and wait for Santa to visit our street with the local firemen. Dad made sure that his homemade plywood Frosty greeted every soul each and every holiday season; at one point, our house looked like the Griswold’s with the number of reindeer and ribbons. Let’s not forget the innately Italian and not at all inconspicuous red cardinals that are on every branch of our Christmas tree.
As the years went on, the traditions changed. Our million-piece heirloom of a pine tree faced was replaced by a younger, smaller, and still artificial tree which now stands on a small table in the middle of the bay window. We stopped going to church, though we still took the long way to wherever it was we were going to pass the best Christmas lights. We still have holiday breakfast every year with mimosas in lieu of smoothies and cocoa; we still watch White Christmas whenever plausible. Dad became the Santa for the firehouse of which he serves as commissioner; he always makes a point to visit our street as well as that fantastical holiday house. Those silly birds still remain on their branches and are even present as sheet music songbirds on my homey little tree to keep the family memory alive.
I guess the point of this reminiscence is that although I’ve grown, sitting here on Christmas eve with my cat fast asleep beside me as I type, I know that for the past 24 years, my world has been filled with the best of holiday memories, and honestly, there’s really only two people to thank for that.
– Ms. Sunshine