Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008

Let me start by saying I'm a Christmas Geek - there's no way to deny it! I love everything about Christmas - the sights, the sounds, the smells, the food,the baking, the decorating, the wrapping and the shopping-yes, even the shopping, though I must admit I'm doing more and more Internet shopping instead of in-store shopping..and I've always been able to be with my family at Christmas, even the years I lived in NYC, I never had a problem with my Christmas travel -

Christmas at our house when my sisters and I were growing up, was just obscene! Way more stuff than we needed, but we were the only grandchildren, only nieces, etc.,it was just us. I remember my grandfather LOVED Christmas- he grew up in the foothills in the San Joaquin Valley, and to say they were poor (he had 9 brothers & sisters) is probably an understatement. Their Christmas presents were either a piece of fruit or a pair of socks - as he grew up and had his own family, he was the biggest kid of all at Christmas! He loved presents and opening things, no matter how small the gift - a can of almonds that he got to unwrap put the biggest smile on his face, a magazine, a homemade batch of fudge, slippers, it just didn't matter. Once we realized how much he liked Christmas presents, we always made sure to get him a bunch of stuff so he could unwrap it! He's been gone 22 years and I still miss him!

We had a real Christmas Eve tradition when we were growing up - We'd always have our own family dinner, then we'd head to my grandparent's house (Mom's mom), where they would unwrap their Christmas presents, and each of us got to open 1 present, almost always pajamas, slippers or a robe, so we could use them Christmas eve and Christmas morning, and then we'd have dessert - does anyone remember the snowball Ice Cream? It was a scoop of vanilla ice cream, rolled in coconut with green holly leaves and a candy cane on top! Middle of winter and we're eating ice cream - any child's delight! Then we'd head out to my grandmother's (father's mother) where we'd get her Christmas presents - usually money - and another dessert - a child's version of heaven! Then we'd head out to some family friends for a real Christmas Eve Party - we were usually home by 11 though, so Santa could do his thing - and I can only imagine the hours my parents spent putting toys, etc. together.

Early the next morning - usually between 6 and 6:30, we'd get up and head for the tree and the living room - my parents would put on the coffee and call my grandparents to come over and watch us open presents. They lived on the block behind us, so it never took them more than 5 minutes to get there, but it seemed like an eternity! We were able to look at our stockings, but couldn't touch anything else. Then after hours of unwrapping presents, my mother would start the turkey and start getting ready for Christmas dinner, while us kids got to revel in our new treasures.

Until I was about 8, we always had Xmas dinner at my Great Grandmothers - but by the time I was 8, my sisters(younger) and I wanted to stay home with our new stuff - so my Mom started having Xmas dinner - I think at the most there were 32 people for dinner- as the older ones passed away, we got down to only about 10-11 for dinner, but now that nieces and nephews have married, etc., we're back up to about 15-16. When I was a kid, the food at the dinner table just didn't stop - and I can remember everyone having 2nds! There was more food than I can even explain! Over the years we've cut our food down a lot, and nobody has 2nds any more either - but we all get our fill!

This year was pretty much the same, except for my niece being in the hospital - she's regained feeling and movement in all but her right leg, which is still completely paralyzed. They've done MRI's, spinal taps, blood tests - all of which are negative or inconclusive. Now they're discussing whether to send her up to Standford, UC Davis or UC Santa Barbara. That did put a damper on Christmas for everyone.

Little Skyler had a blast at Christmas, and that's when you realize, Christmas really is for kids.

Enough for now

Have a great day!

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