White Christmas

    1983 -December -Randy taping flashlight to his head to sled down the hill It was Christmas Eve and the snow had started coming down way before dawn.  Our family had been having our Christmas Eve celebration in the country at my parents’ house for many years. Their house was the only one large enough for everyone to sleep overnight at was the main reason. We enjoyed having hot buttered rums and wine and didn’t believe in driving after imbibing.  Spending Christmas there had become a family tradition for my sister and me, along with whoever we wanted to bring along, to eat, drink and be merry with. It had started as soon as she and I moved away from home after high school.

    This year would be no exception even with the heavy snowfall. Everyone would make it there in their various four wheel drive vehicles no matter how much snow fell. We always spent the night there so we could all be together on Christmas day. This would be the eighth year we had been engaging in this tradition.

My sister and her husband Randy, with their two sons who were six and three, arrived at our parents’ house first in their four wheel drive Explorer. Next on the scene was a good friend of both of us two daughters, his name was Aaron and we frequently referred to him as our brother. Aaron usually went to his parents’ house for Christmas. They lived two hours north of us and because of the heavy snow it was too dangerous to drive there so he drove out to join the party in the country with his second family.  Aaron arrived in his old four wheel drive jeep that he owned for just this kind of occasion.

My boyfriend, Greg, and I arrived last in Greg’s Volkswagen bug which navigated the snow very well. We would be sleeping on the pull out couch in the family room. Aaron would get the large couch in the living room where Annette’s two boys would sleep on the floor in sleeping bags and Annette and Randy would get the spare bedroom. There used to be a third bedroom but our father had turned it into his hobby room after my sister and I moved out and had kicked the bed out of it.

By the time Greg and I arrived the hot buttered rums were flowing freely and everyone was getting buzzed on the alcohol. The two boys were outside playing in the deep snow. When they came in the house they would steal a drink out of someone’s unwatched glass now and then. The snow hadn’t let up all day and by the time it got dark there was over three feet of snow on the ground.

“Hey Dave, do you have a sled around here?” Randy asked his father-in-law.

“There is one up in the barn. It’s hanging on the wall over the shop. Do you want me to go out there and show you where it is?”

“No I am sure I can find it. Aaron, do you go up to the barn with me to get the sled?”

“Sure. Let me go put on my sweater and snow pants. I’ll be right out.” Aaron left the room to go get the clothes he brought that were still out in his jeep.

They went out to the barn and returned with the sled.

“So who wants to go down the hill on the sled with me?” Randy looked around the room.

His two sons jumped up. “Let me ride it.” They both yelled at the same time.

Randy and the boys went outside and everyone else watched from the living room. Randy sat the kids on the sled and shoved it down the hill. After a while the kids got tired of sledding and came back in the house to lust after the presents that were sitting unopened under the tree. Aaron took the sled down the hill after the boys and took an unplanned journey off of the road into the bushes.

Randy, Greg, Aaron and Dave proceeded to get quite toasted on hot buttered rum. The women were not too happy with the men.

“Dave, how about you and me and Greg go down the hill together on the sled?” Randy suggested.

“You have got to be kidding. It’s pitch black out there.” Greg wasn’t too enthusiastic.

“I can hold a flashlight.” Randy responded.

“Oh really.  How can you hold a flashlight and hold on to the sled?” Greg asked.

“I can tape it on my head,” and Randy proceeded to take duct tape and taped the flashlight on top of his head. Michele quickly grabbed her camera and took photos, she figured this ought to be good blackmail material when she got the photos developed.

Michele, Annette and their mother couldn’t quit laughing as they watched the spectacle unfold. Dave laid down on the sled first and Greg lay on top of him. Then Randy, with the flashlight taped to his head, got on the very top and the three of them proceeded down the hill.

The women watched from the living room window as the three drunken fools took off on the sled. When they were went around the corner out of sight they went to the kitchen and brought out the Christmas Eve munchies feast. This was the family tradition to have a meal consisting of all appetizers on Christmas Eve and then have a traditional dinner the next day.

When the three men walked back in the house they found everyone was sitting at the table eating.

“What took so long?” Michele asked.

“When we got to the big corner Dave couldn’t get the sled turned so the sled went off the road and ran us into the blackberries. We aren’t going to do that again.”

“Do you know how stupid you looked with that flashlight taped around your head?” Annette remarked.

“The best part is I’ve got a photograph. That is going to be a priceless photo!” Michele had trouble talking she was laughing so hard.

“I don’t care, you girls can screw off!” Randy was drunk and couldn’t really get too mad.

Everyone continued sitting at the table and ate the munchies the women had prepared. The boys were chomping at the bit to open their presents.

“It’s getting really late. Can we open the presents you said we could?” Zak pleaded to his mother.

“Oh you boys sound so pitiful. Go ahead and open them!” Annette laughed.

As soon as she had given the boys permission they rushed to the tree to find the presents that had been set aside for Christmas Eve. The rest of them would be opened the next morning.  Everyone watched as the boys tore open their Christmas Eve presents. This was the real reason everyone was there this evening. Snow and sledding had been a bonus.

My Little Black Address Book-(Or On Transferring “People” From My “Old” Tattered Address Book)

Every year I send out Christmas cards, cards that I design and print myself and they always contain photos of my pets (my children) on them and sometimes of my pets and me.  This is to let my friends know that I am thinking about them even if I don’t visit them, haven’t visited them or called them in a long time. It is always a bit of a laborious process to update the addresses on this fairly long list for various reasons, every year no matter how hard I try I always get a couple of cards “returned to sender” due to someone having moved and I didn’t know it, or the way the address has to be written has changed, besides the adding of new friends I have made or deleting friends who have died during the year, and because SOMETIMES I just plain screwed up writing the address on the envelope – like the times (yes I have done this error more than once) in which I addressed it from me and to me (usually this is about card #50 and you would rightly think I should notice this error when I go through the cards and put the postage stamps on them to mail them that I would catch this error but NOOO, at least not always anyway!).  When I add new friends I usually start by looking up their physical addresses on the internet version of the phone book and then when that fails because they are not listed then I have to call them and get their address the old fashioned way, by asking them for it. I usually send out around forty to sixty cards every year because I try to include all of the people, the ones in my family and old and new friends, that are in my life and play an important and emotional part it as well as the ones who have been in that position in the past so are still important in my life even if it is in the memory portion of my life. I like to let these people who hold a significant place in my life as I read their names in my address list, and it is unimportant whether that memory is from current events or past ones, as they are all equally important to me in my desire to let them know that they still hold an important place in my heart and my feelings about them, even if our lives have changed to the point we don’t have time to see each other anymore that they are still important.   I want them to know I remember them at least this time once in a year, maybe it is more for me than for them but I do hear from a lot of those people that they look forward to receiving my cards and none of them ever tell me to take them off my list.  I try to keep a hand written address book up to date with all the addresses I need for my Christmas card project but there always ends up being some names missing and some that I have no idea where they moved to and it can take a lot longer than I would like to get all the addresses correct for the cards I want to send out. In spite of my best efforts I still always end up with a few that I can’t locate and then if I get lucky and they send me a card because they have moved but still like the “Christmas Card Contact” we have shared through the years (and that always reaffirms to me that my Christmas card project is a good thing to do) when I get those cards they get pulled out and added to the current card list.  Every year I think that I should call every one of the people on my card list and arrange to have lunch with them, some of them have held very special places in my life in the past, some of them used to be my best friends and every year I don’t end up calling them, not that they try either but still… It could be kind of interesting to look up all the people in the address book and go visit them during the year for old times sake, or actually I guess for new time’s sake. And every year when I don’t I always say to myself I will do it next year and next year comes and I still don’t do it. Maybe I will do it this year. Maybe someday will come and wouldn’t that make fifty or sixty interesting stories for me to tell?

My Little Black Address Book

Everyone has an “AHA” Christmas Moment, what is yours?

This only applies to those people who like Christmas in some way even if it is a very small way.  If you don’t like anything about Christmas there isn’t going to be any “AHA’ feel good moment.  Along with my putting up the various decorations around the house as well as my Coca Cola Polar Bear Christmas Village display, Charlie Brown and his poor little Christmas tree along with the warmly familiar theme song is a must see show to get myself in the Christmas mood.  It has pretty much been around almost all my life since I was 7 when the “Charlie Brown Christmas” special came out on television and spawned the best way to insult someone’s tree by comparing it to poor Charlie’s stick Christmas tree.  The other Charlie Brown moment that always makes me smile is the Halloween special when he sadly says “I got a rock’.

Poor little Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree.

Poor little Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree.

The Christmas Rabbits

There seems to be something in particular that gives each of us the Christmas spirit, unless you are one of those that hates Christmas, and I find it interesting what each of our “aha” trigger is. For some people it is the shopping and buying presents (and no that is not me), others really get into Christmas when they pick out their Christmas tree and put it up but for me it is getting out the silly rabbits dressed in Christmas clothes and the other things like them that I have either bought or people have given me as presents. The silly rabbits are porcelain bunny heads on doll like bodies wearing various Christmas outfits that my step sister gave my parents and my sister and I one of every year for several years as presents. There is a Grandma and Grandpa, a mom and dad and 3 bunny children and every year since I was given them about 20 years ago I take them out of the boxes they came in, that protect their china heads from breaking during the rest of the year, and set them up on top of the bookshelf in my house and I enjoy thinking about the holiday spirit in which I was given them and they sit on the shelf and personify the spirit of Christmas to me, they were a gift and they look “Christmassy”! My stepfather always disliked them and complained when my mother put them but she did so anyway and it was probably for the same reason that I did. One year my sister’s big dog got a hold of one of her rabbit dolls and broke it, it wasn’t that big a deal but she did like them for the same reason as me and she told me about it breaking. The next year after she told me about the one rabbit getting broken I found a pair of them at Goodwill one day when I was killing time during my lunch hour at work, it turned out that one of them was one of the one’s that my sister’s dog had “killed” so I gave it to her. My sister and I talked about what to do with the “extra” one that we all still had and since my stepfather hated it so much I wrapped it up and put his name on it and put that it was from my sister and I on the tag (since his real daughter had given us the rabbits in the first place I couldn’t put her name on it) and put it under the tree on Christmas Eve when we always got together. It was priceless when he opened up the box and saw the rabbit we all knew he disliked, he was torn between trying to be polite and not being able to believe that he got another one of those “rabbits”. My sister and I couldn’t keep a straight face very long and he figured out it was a joke when we fell on the floor laughing. These are the kinds of things that say Merry Christmas to me!

The Christmas Rabbit Family

The Christmas Rabbit Family