Sunday, December 21, 2014

30 Memories: Christmas

This post is written in the format of sharing thirty memories/thoughts/stories, each in thirty words or fewer. The focus is on Christmas.

1. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) This is my favorite Christmas song. Equal parts nostalgia for a song I grew up with and the message of reflection on a year gone by, a prayer for peace.

2. Peek’s House The last few years, Christmas has ended at Peek and Missy’s, in the house they renovated, the progress of which reminds me how little time I’ve spent home between Christmases.

3. Home Alone I remember watching Home Alone for the first time in the theater with my grandmother and my sister and thinking it was the best film I had ever seen.

4. Snooping I remember snooping for gifts leading up to Christmas, looking in my grandma’s bedroom dresser drawer and seeing the logos for new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures.

5. Smoke I remember my Uncle John would stay at my grandmother’s house for Christmas and leave the guest bedroom cloudy and reeking of Marlboro smoke.

6. Pot Roast My father made pot roast, not exclusively for Christmas, but often on the holiday and in the winter. I slathered the tender beef and mashed potatoes in rich brown gravy.

7. Petit Fours Christmas dinners at Grandma’s ended with Swiss Colony petit fours—little frosted cakes, mystery fillings. I’ve learned to love Christmas cookies, but petit fours are the true taste of Christmas.

8. Train Set Grandma surprised me one year with a train set. Despite my father’s best efforts, we couldn’t get it working reliably for more than a few minutes. I fumed and cried.

9. Wish Lists I learned my parents and grandmother rationed about fifty dollars each for my and my sister’s gifts and became obsessed with dollar values, crafting wish lists to maximize my budget.

10. It’s a Wonderful Life In my mind, there’s a direct correlation between coming to appreciate this film and transitioning from focusing on presents to being thankful and appreciating the people I loved.

11. The Christmas Ball I had two dates to my senior year, high school winter semi-formal--freshman girls who were friends and each had crushes on me, each of whom I should’ve treated better.

12. Storm Delay Christmas my sophomore year of college, a blizzard hit shortly after I got home, before anyone else came to town. We celebrated Christmas a day late.

13. Toasting Mr. Scalise Christmases at the Scalises’, I’d lead off dinners by raising a glass to my best friend’s father. It was tongue in cheek, but he’s still the best man I know.

14. Rolling Dice After dinner we’d drink wine and roll dice, gambling over chips without currency behind them in a simple game of luck without strategy.

15. Love Actually I watched Love Actually in the theater with a girl I was falling in love with. We held hands for two hours straight.

16. “Wintersong” I fell in love with Sarah McLachlan’s “Wintersong,” a beautiful piece that precipitated what I’d feel when my ailing grandmother finally passed.

17. Goodbye The last time I saw Grandma, it was Christmas 2007. She didn’t know who I was or that we were in a nursing home common room. I kissed her forehead.

18. Fiber-optic Tree I remember watching a fiber-optic tree flash different colors while I sipped whiskey and thought about Christmases past, as joyous and melancholy as ever I’d been.

19. Christmas Parties I hosted Christmas parties every year I lived in Baltimore. Ugly sweater themed the first year. Tropical themed after I moved to an undersized overheated one bedroom.

20. Christmas Eve I spent Christmas Eve at a bar with my best friend--not a familiar haunt, just a place close to our street We lamented our lost youth.

21. Watching Entourage My friend and I passed a Christmas day watching the first season of Entourage. Spending the day that way seemed sad, but the show did become a favorite.

22. Scrooged There’s something about the closing scene of Scrooged that gets me every time. I choke up and want to call every damn person I’ve ever known.

23. Christmas Lights Peek built elaborate light displays, which drew local TV news coverage and a stream of traffic driving by his house. And I accidentally kicked out one of his floodlights.

24. Chinese and Christmas in a Car It became tradition to eat Christmas lunch at a Chinese restaurant with my father, sister, and brother-in-law, and exchange gifts in my father’s Buick in the parking lot.

25. The Work Party I attended a holiday party at work that was Hawaiian-themed and featured a limbo contest ill-advised for the women in dresses and the office setting.

26. Miracle on 34th Street I lived within walking distance of 34th Street in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. Houses aglow, with artistic sensibilities--it fed my soul.

27. Black Friday I visited an upstate NY mall the evening of Black Friday for the first time in years, heard “What Christmas Means to Me,” and my heart swelled with nostalgia.

28. Gifts Heather and I exchanged gifts. She hand wrote a book about how we met. I gave her a book of comic strips I’d drawn about us and a talking cat.

29. Christmas Eve Away I woke on Christmas Eve for the first time outside of my childhood bedroom, because I’d stayed in Baltimore to write a live review of The Sing-Off for my blog.

30. Gianna, Lucia, Aria I’ve spent my most recent Christmases hugging, dancing, and playing with my nieces. And they’ve been the best Christmases of my life to date.

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