Erica Lucke Dean

"Making the world a better place, one book at a time."

12 blogs of Christmas: somewhere in my memory

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Who doesn’t have at least one of those incredible moments from long ago, locked in our memories for all eternity…a magical place in time from childhood…or a precious moment from when our children were small? Special all year round, but somehow even more so at Christmas. I tend to find myself reaching for the photo album the minute I hear the first bars of Frosty the Snowman play. There is just something about the holiday season that takes me back.

Tonight, I’ve invited some of my favorite writers to share their special memories with me….and you.  And once you’ve dry your tears from our holiday memories…click on the link under their pictures for eleven more blogs of Christmas!

Enjoy!

T’was the night before Christmas And all through the house, Not a creature was stirring; Not even a mouse…

Thus began our traditional bedtime story, every year, on Christmas Eve. The Little Golden Book that my father read to us, year in and year out, was placed on a special shelf on my parents’ bookshelf, safe from the daily wear and tear that all of our other books received. On that one special night of the year, like clockwork, my sister and I snuggled into a chair on Daddy’s lap and listened as he recited the traditional verses and turned the pages of the picture book. It didn’t matter how old we were, although eventually we moved to the couch with me on one side and my sister on the other, (we outgrew Dad’s lap, as all girls do), my father read us this story, every year without fail. To this day, I can recite the tale by heart. In my memory, it wouldn’t be Christmas without “T’was the Night Before Christmas”. If I close my eyes, I can still hear my dad reading while visions of sugar plums danced in my head.

Merry Christmas from Marie Patchen

Christmas Eve is my favorite part of the holiday season. Every year my family sits down to a candlelight antipasto dinner filled with everything from cold-cut platters to petit fours. We turn off all the house lights, plug in the tree lights, and place candles throughout the dining room. For years, the centerpiece was a candle powered carousel. The heat from the candles made a little tiered nativity spin. Ours broke several years ago, but here’s a picture of a similar one. Maybe one day I’ll be able to replace it, but either way, I’m looking forward to dinner already.

Merry Christmas from Natalie Kenney

When I was six and Christmas approached, it seemed my mom was always off in the dining room working on something. I remember being impatient and upset with her lack of attention. It turned out she was working on a project for our elementary school. She created a stunning display depicting the 12 Days of Christmas for the school, as the budget had been cut and their art department was suffering. She did it on her (limited) time off of work, using supplies that she kept around the house. It was so loved by the school that they laminated everything they could and used it year after year. That was the year I learned what Christmas really meant!

Merry Christmas from Raine Thomas

It’s 1999 at my family’s house and I am 18. The family is sitting in the lounge room after opening presents, Mum, Dad, me, my brother, and my high school boyfriend. It’s barely 8am and Mum says to my boyfriend ‘Would you like a bourbon? I’m having a Jim Beam and Coke’. The look on his face was priceless. ‘Did you really just offer me a bourbon at 8 in the morning?’ he asks. ‘Yes,’ Mum says. ‘I need to get an early start before my mother gets here!’

Cheers from Ciara Ballintyne

“D.C., can you come out here please? You have a visitor.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes but did what my mom asked. When I entered the tiny kitchen area, my jaw dropped. A giant fat man in a red and white suit took up most of the linoleum floor.

“Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas, little girl. Have you been naughty or nice?”

“Um…nice?”

“Well okay then, why don’t you hop up on

my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas,” he asked, lowering his considerable ass onto a chair.

Okay, I thought to myself, I’ll play your little game. I crawled onto the fat man’s knee, pushed his fluffy white beard away from my face and tried not to stare at his bulbous nose. After some small talk, I politely requested the orange and blue soccer ball I’d seen at the Kresge’s two weeks ago and had yet to shut up about.

“Well, little girl, let’s see what I have in my sack.” Low and behold, he produced a perfectly spherical, wrapped gift from his red nylon bag.

“My soccer ball!” I shouted as I hopped off the fat man’s lap. Forgetting my manners entirely, I snatched the ball from his chunky hands and ripped away all traces of paper.

“D.C., what do you have to say to Santa Clause?” asked my mom.

“I have to say he can scratch the soccer ball off my list because Uncle Larry beat him to it!”

Merry Christmas from DC McMillen

One early Christmas morning, five Bogdanovitch children gathered in front of the motherlode of all present piles (my twin brother and I were seven, my younger siblings, also twins, were three). There, dwarfing every present, sat the largest gift box we had ever seen. The oohs and aahs wouldn’t stop: “Who gets it?” My weary-eyed parents gathered and distributed the presents, saving the Midas-gift for last. They held the five of us in collective suspense like magicians, until they placed the box, which was bigger than her, in front of my older sister (by two years — she didn’t have a twin sibling of her own). The delight on her face grew in proportion to the silent mugs the rest of us tried to hide without much success — we were pea-green with envy! Saved for last, she tore into the gift wrapping, opening the box with determined gusto, and finally pulled back the box flaps to find tightly packed balls of newspaper; she kept throwing out ball after ball, adding to the heaps scattered about. Then she got to the bottom of the box. The present was a bunch of paper? No, she pulled IT out, the gag gift — we didn’t even know the concept until then. I’ll never forget my sister’s expression as she went from delight to steaming mad. At the end of her tiny fingers she held a rotten, brown-spotted banana peel! She dropped it back into the box as the rest of us roared with laughter. My dad led the group. He started this particular Bog tradition, but lovingly consoled my older sister back to sensibility, and we all moved on, until the next year when she opened a beautiful, intricately-wrapped gem and held a ragged, dog-chewed slipper up for all of us to see. Now, we were all in on the joke and laughed together, but that first time I’ll never forget someone saying: “Why would Santa send our sister a smelly old banana peel?” And the giggles wouldn’t stop…

Merry Christmas from Justin Bogdanovitch

My favorite Christmas memory was one of the early years in my marriage. Kurt and I had just found out the year before both boys were autistic and paying for therapy had pretty much wiped out the budget. We had just found out that insurance wouldn’t pay for any of either of the boys therapies so to Keep them in therapy we liquidated our retirement accounts.

My ex-husband was nearly 20K behind on child support and there was just not going to be money for Christmas. This wasn’t much of a problem for my youngest as he really wasn’t interested in much outside of his world due his age and the severity of his autism so a couple of stuffed toys from the dollar store would make him perfectly happy. My oldest though was at that age where Christmas was a really important time & toys were a big part of that. I was worried and sad.

We dug in to storage where I had my comics and non-sports trading cards that I collected before I had children. I was planning to sell them. We found a ton of original G.I. Joes including big vehicles and the original planes. Everything had been storage in plastic and the guns and accessories were all there – this stuff was in perfect condition. We wrapped all of it – there was a lot under the tree. My son when he found out that these had been Kurt was even more excited than ever. He played with them non stop through the whole break. I asked him if he was upset about not getting new toys. He said no. He liked his Kurt’s toys because “Dad’s only give their toys to their sons that they love.” To this day my teen age son has his Dad’s G.I. Joes and talks of passing them on to his boys.

Merry Christmas from Melody-Ann Kaufmann

For as long as I can remember the first weekend of December has been designated “Tree Weekend.” Saturday morning my mom and I, along with my aunt and uncle (when they were alive) would go to a local church for a huge craft fair. After walking around buying Christmas presents we’d hop in our cars, pick up my dad and head out to the mountain to find the perfect Christmas tree. What’s the perfect Christmas tree you ask? In my family its a 9-10 foot tall tree and 16-18 feet around. It doesn’t matter that our ceilings are 8 foot and that the dog once got lost in the girth of one when he mistakenly took the tree for a big bush. When it comes to trees the fatter the better, that’s my family’s motto. We would spend hours in the sun, rain, snow, whatever weather, it didn’t matter. We’d visit every tree farm on the mountain and when all the “good” trees were picked out, we’d drive further north to find new farms. It’s just my parents and my husband and I now since my aunt and uncle passed away two years ago. The tree hunt lost some luster without the taunting between the families but we bring our girls now. To see their eyes light up at that gigantic tree gets me every time. My favorite is when my oldest noticed someone carrying their tree in their hands to pay for it. She looked up to me and said, “That’s not a Christmas tree, he can carry it by himself. Look! It took Daddy, Pop-Pop and that man over there to bring our tree down.” I’ve taught her well. :)

Merry Christmas from Karen DeLabar

As corny as it sounds, my best Christmas was the first one I spent with my husband two years ago. We had just gotten into the relationship (the official date was December 10th), and we were still in the honeymoon period. Things were wonderfully exciting, as new love always is, but I had one huge fear. I wasn’t sure if we would actually work out, because I had a small child, and I knew he’s have a lot of exposure to her during Christmas. I should never have worried. Christmas day rolled around, and unless you knew better, he acted just like a loving father. I didn’t prompt any of it. Without me asking, he helped assemble all her Christmas toys, and even brought out the gift Santa had “hidden” behind the tree. As I watched them playing together while sipping on my eggnog, I knew he belonged with us, and he’s been here ever since. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Merry Christmas from Amberr Meadows

My grandfather was a big jolly man with a hearty laugh,and in my family, it wasn’t Christmas unless it happened at his house.   So of course, I thought he actually was Santa Claus.  And he played along.  He used to tell me, “Shhh, don’t tell anyone. It’s our secret.”  I always thought I was special because my grandpa was the real Santa, and I was one of his elves, keeping his identity a secret.

Merry Christmas from Kelly Gamble

I once got volunteered into doing the Christmas wrapping for the Army post’s PX.

I’d conquered the midnight meals when they’d come in from the field, bundling up honey-dipped rolls and large slices of beast. I thought I had this soldier wife thingy all figured out.

Until the wrapping duties.

I’ve always figured that a tootsie roll wrap was the way to go, twisting either end and applying copious amounts of tape to seal the deal. Evidently…shoppers don’t feel the same way.

The first sergeant’s wife and her big fat hairdo shook at my festive flair and glared a re-do it look my way. I sighed and tried my next trick at such papered madness: The envelope. I call it this because I fold it over and end it with a great big V, shoving all the extra pieces under the last flap. I was pretty proud that I’d matched Santa’s nose to his face at the last, but I did have to give it an extra fold to squeeze it just right.

But nooo…there are a lot of picky people in this world evidently. It all wound up with me being told that perhaps I should go on home. I did make sure to let big fat hairdo wrap up a few things before I went though. I mean, I was there already, right?

Merry Christmas from Maureen Hovermale

That’s me with the Barbie doll and the cheesy grin…the other one is psychic.

That’s me with the Barbie doll and the cheesy grin…the other one is psychic.

Christmas is filled with special memories…it’s almost impossible to single one out as my favorite. But if I was pressed (and it would seem I am) I would have to pick one particular Christmas memory as my favorite above all others.  It was the year my sister and I were both expecting (my first and her second), and for the first time in several years we were spending Christmas together at my mother’s home. My sister woke up that particular Christmas morning and informed her husband she had had a very vivid dream. She dreamed our Aunt Phyllis had presented us each with a carefully wrapped package that turned out to be a single Italian Christmas cookie. It was the cookie that reminded us most of our aunt, the kind she made each holiday season by the dozen. Yet, my sister dreamed she gifted us each but one. Of course, she told the same story to me when we arrived at our mother’s home for the Christmas festivities.

It wasn’t unusual for my sister to have strange dreams. She often said she believed herself to be somewhat psychic after dreaming about a plane crash that did in fact occur. A strange coincidence, we all believed… well, until Christmas day. My aunt arrived in full holiday attire as she did each year, laughing and giggling like a round elfin woman, bearing gifts for everyone, my sister and me included.

In fact, she handed each of us a tiny gift that eerily resembled a wrapped Italian cookie. I’ll admit I felt a slight chill run down my spine. It was very strange. Too creepy to imagine, really. My sister looked over at me with her mouth slightly agape, and then back to the small gift. I took her cue and opened my package.

It was a single Italian cookie.

What happened next could only be explained as electrifying. My sister, seven months pregnant with her second child, began jumping up and down, exclaiming over and over again, “Oh my God, I’m psychic!”

I was no better, repeating her words, “Oh my God, you’re psychic!” She continued by describing her dream in each minute detail. She held up the wrapped cookie as ironclad proof, and then retold the story of the plane crash she had dreamed of years earlier. I backed her every word, just as convinced she was indeed, psychic!

We were in a whirlwind of chatter, completely oblivious to the laughter across the room. I don’t remember how long before it set in, and I can’t remember the exact words that were said at that point. But, the gist of it was this … my brother-in-law (the infamous Uncle Paul) had called my aunt in the early morning hours and relayed to her the strange cookie dream. The two of them concocted the idea of staging a harmless Christmas prank. It was a good one too. It always brings back fond memories of Aunt Phyllis, who has since passed on. To this day, more than twenty years later, we still toss out the line my sister was so fond of that day, “Oh my god…you’re psychic!”

Merry Christmas from me…Erica Lucke Dean

Until the next time…I’ll be watching Home Alone with a box of tissues! Don’t forget to click on the links to visit the rest of the 12 blogs of Christmas.

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