Because it's SENTIMENTAL SUNDAY anyway, I couldn't help thinking of all my Christmases in the past, and the little things that stand out from all of them. So, I'm forcing you all to join me on my little nostalgia trip. That's right! I'm FORCING YOU. Anyway, it's been hectic: you've been baking and buying and decorating, so clearly you need a little break.
When I was a kid, we always had a real tree. We tried one of those tree farms one year. I don't think my sister was born yet, because I can't remember her in this picture! I do remember having to wear that super itchy hat thing that was basically like a hat and neck warmer all in one with a hole for the face. My brother and I called it "the egghead." I'm scratching my forehead now just remembering it.
We had to go waaaay off into the field to try to find a tree, because we were a little late, and most of the good ones were gone. Finally we found a slightly crooked, Charlie Brown-ish tree, and my Dad hacked it off. We had a wagon ride that day, and I got a styrofoam cup of soup that burnt the hell out of my mouth. That soup was actually hotter than anything that's ever been called "hot".
The tree farm was unusual though. Normally we would get stuffed into the station wagon, and driven to every tree lot in the city so my Mom could hem and haw and "turn it this way" and "lift up that one. Oh, it's a 'long needle.' We don't want that," for what felt like FOREVER. And then we'd return to LOT NUMBER ONE and get the first tree we saw anyway.
Tree decorating night was fun because Dad would always put on the same records, and Burl Ives would be belting out "Holly Jolly Christmas," and we got to drink egg nog, which at the time, was the best drink known to man.
We played the same tree decorating tricks on my Mom EVERY SINGLE YEAR. We would pile a whole lot of the same colour ornaments in the same section of the tree. Or, we would take the entire pile of tinsel and plop that on ONE branch. Or, we'd take one piece of tinsel and thanks to static, it would stick to the tv screen and look like a crack. Then we'd say; "Mom, what happened to the TV?" all innocent like, and it would get her EVERY TIME. One time my brother put my mother's pack of smokes up on the tree. One time he put my sister's hearing aid on the tree.
Of course every kid freaked for toys. Let's be honest: you can try to instill all the good values you want into your offspring, but deep down in their greedy little hearts, it's mostly about the receiving. A few toys really stand out in my memory. One year my grandmother gave me a little jewellery box. It had a little plastic ballerina, and played "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters. I thought that was WICKED.
But, the best, the top, the pinnacle of presents was The SINDY HOUSE.
What I DIDN'T know, was that after the usual Christmas eve festivities at my grandmother's house, we kids got dropped off and my parents headed on over to the States to go to an aunt's party. Back in the good old days, it was perfectly fine to GET RIPPED, have "one for the road," and hop into your car and head on home.
Yeah, I'll let you think about that for a moment. Let's all say a small thanks that times have CHANGED.
Anyhoo, when my parents got home, it was late, and my Dad STILL had to put that freaking house together. This may be why the elevator never, ever worked properly the whole time I had it.
I woke up that Christmas morning, and let me tell you--that majestic cardboard house was UNBELIEVABLE. I freaked. I totally freaked. It had an elevator, a SPIRAL STAIRCASE...
wait, I have to tell you that I thought spiral staircases were the top notch of awesome when I was a kid.
So, the spiral staircase led up to the roof top patio, where Sindy would have all her outdoor barbecue parties, or lounge in the sun for as many hours as you want, because back then, if you weren't BRONZE, you weren't HAWT.
Of course, because the house had its small imperfections. Like, the cord that was supposed to pull the elevator up would always get all tangled. And, that spiral staircase didn't reeeeeally fit into the cardboard frame so well, and tended to want to pop up a bit at the top, instead of fitting level with the patio floor.
Oh, and I never did have all the furniture that was supposed to come with the house. I mean, I never had that little bedside table with the WORKING LAMP on it. I mean, MON DIEU, a working freaking lamp?!? COME ON! I did have the dining room table and china hutch, the bed, and a fridge that came with lots of plastic foods--enough to fill the fruit/veg crisper, and a little plastic brown turkey.
Oh! And the china hutch had little dishes and glasses. One time my Mom made teeny tiny pancakes that would fit on Sindy's little plates. That was so awesome.
I should also mention (again---I've lamented this before) that one of the cardboard floors used to cave in regularly unless I was super careful, because my brother accidentally winged his basket ball into it.
So, imagine that you've just received all your super awesome presents, including this beyond-comprehension Sindy House, and then your Mom says; "okay, put your toys away. We have to go to CHURCH."
It may surprise you people to know there was a time in my life I was forced to go to church. Like any good psuedo-Catholic-ish family, we went to church on Christmas and Easter. Sorry if you like church, but to me that was SUPER SUCK. My sister is lucky, because by the time she came around, she probably only had to go to church like a couple of times.
Yeah, I know some of you are going to point out the FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS in my view of Christmas, but whatever. Christmas is for everyone. That's why they invented Santa--for us heathens.
Then we'd have to put those toys away AGAIN, pile into the FREEZING station wagon, with its PLASTIC SEATS, and drive over to Grandma's for dinner. We'd all sit round the table eating turkey, and pierogi, and meat on a stick, and meat stuffing, bread stuffing, cranberries, oily salad, corn, kapusta, pickled mushrooms, and stained glass cake, while my Grandmother walked around looking angry saying; "You don't eat nothing!" or "you don't eat much!" or "EAT, PEOPLE!"
And all the while we'd be dreaming of our toys. Dying for our toys. Longing for the moment we could get back home to our toys. Projecting ourselves to that time when we could be in our new jammies, quietly in our beds with that special new toy, and all the other treasures piled carefully beside the bed.
The best Christmases were when we had the tree in the "good living room." We were young, and it was cozy, and Christmas still gave me that magical feeling deep in my stomach. I didn't realise it then, but Christmas was really much, much more than just the presents.
Wherever you are and whatever you do, I wish you happy holidays. I have no problem wishing anyone "happy holidays," rather than Merry Christmas. There are a lot of people in this world who celebrate a lot of different things at this time of year. I hope they're all happy times, even if just a little.
|my brother, my aunt, and little me, at my grandmother's |
I live in this house now, but without the yellow and black plaid furniture.