Saturday, December 24, 2011


I was challenged to write a blog post before Christmas, and I'm cutting it pretty close. Story of a Procrastinator's life, huh? I had this long post half worked out about gifts and giving and suggested some alternatives to feeling like you NEED to find that something-or-other to check off a box, but since it's Christmas Eve, we're pretty much past that point, aren't we? I'll wrap that one up and dust it off next year. :-)

And then a dear friend of mine (who is also the one who threw down the challenge gauntlet) posted a Christmas memory, and after I dug out whatever was stuck in my eye and making me all teary-eyed, I smiled while I remembered a few of my own.

I lost my dad in 1988, Thanksgiving weekend. I barely remember that Christmas, to be honest. It was a blur, and I think I wanted to keep it that way. My aunt let me borrow some pictures to scan, and I have zero recollection of the time spent at my grandparents' house that day. It's nice to have the pictures now.

What I do have are memories of other Christmases. 

My dad had a bit of a prankster in him. This explains a lot, you say. Thanks for the compliment. ;-)

I remember one Christmas where my Mom had a HUGE box under the tree. He and I watched as she started to open it, and lo and behold… a huge box FULL of paper towels. Individually bunched up (hey, this was well before tissue paper was as ubiquitous as it is now - Bounty is what we had!). I remember "the look" and then Mom digging through the box trying to find the wristwatch hiding among the paper towels. It took a while. As a kid, if that wasn't the funniest thing I saw that Christmas, I don't know what was. :-D

And, of course, they were PERFECTLY GOOD paper towels, so we reused them.

And then there was the homemade box.
My Dad had gotten my Mom something smallish (it was so long ago, and the actual present doesn't matter, so I don't remember what it was), and decided that since we didn't have a box of the proper size, we would make one. 

So I helped my dad cut out 6 equal-sized squares of cardboard from a MUCH LARGER BOX (which was then useless, but whatever - we were making our own!), and we taped that sucker together on all sides around Mom's gift. I think we kept the Scotch tape folks in business that year. 

Mom opened the gift and had NO idea what end to open. And we laughed, got a knife, and extracted the present from its tape-and-cardboard womb.

That box was used EVERY SINGLE CHRISTMAS after that, until Mom moved and we lost track of it. There was more tape than cardboard after a while, but I always loved that box.

I remember my Dad teaching me how to wrap gifts, to crease the paper just so, to fold here, tuck that there, and tape, tape, tape! 

I remember adding those individual pieces of tinsel to the tree and then recycling them every year to use over again.

I remember the one and only year we got a real tree… I went with my dad and our neighbor into the woods ("Are we supposed to be here?" "It's fine, just hurry up!") to cut what seemed to be the smallest tree in the area. Unfortunately, the smallest tree does not equate to a SMALL tree, and we saw that once we got it home.
To our apartment.
Where you have to wedge this tree through the front door, up the stairs, and around the corner through OUR door.
After much sputtering by my dad and laughing by me, I was sent upstairs to wait.

By the time the tree made it upstairs, it was much more Charlie-Brownish… and there were a number of needles and pieces of tree left behind in the hallway. But it was in. And it was… TALL. Sick of dealing with the tree, they chopped off the TOP so it would fit. So at least it looked fuller. ;-)

And then it wouldn't stay up. The cat didn't help. So Mom did what Moms do - she got out her yarn from her knitting and tied it to the wall. 

Picture if you will, a roundish, bent-up tree tied to the wall with brown, yellow, and orange variegated yarn, with a cat in it.

Yeah, we had a four-foot fake tree every year thereafter. :-)

Some good memories over coffee this morning, and a nice way to reflect on what we take with us from Christmas. So, in a way, this post IS about gifts. The gifts from my Dad that carry with me today. The moments. The memories. The important stuff.

What are YOUR memories of Christmases past? What are you helping create with your loved ones? What will they take with them once you're gone?

Thanks, Dad. Merry Christmas. I do miss you. <3


Martin said...

Memories are made even when we don't ever intend to hold onto them. Thank you SO very much for sharing these with all of us. And here is to you, a woman your father I am certain would be beaming over today with pride.

Gina said...

Your dad sounds like he was a heck of a lot of fun! Yes, that DOES explain a lot!! :D Thank you, J, for sharing these precious stories with us. Hugs and Merry Christmas!! <3

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful memory. I remember your Grandparents when I was a kid tying the tree to the wall when we lived on Pleasant Street. Sometimes the best presents we could ever get or give are the love and memories that we have in our hearts and minds.
I wish you "Kiddos" (and you always will be one to me) A Merry Christmas and may God bless each and every one of you.

Don Dwoske said...

I love the homemade box story. I'll have to try that next year.