Later this afternoon on the Christmas Eve, 2015, on of the cable networks will be a marathon showing of the movie "The Christmas Story". You know the one where Ralphie gets the Red Ryder rifle for Christmas and where the schoolyard bully gets his tongue stuck on the icy pole after being double-dog dared to do it.
Seems to me everyone has their own Christmas story, some nostalgic and sentimental, while others are sad and painful. I was lucky in that many of my Christmas memories from childhood were filled with the anticipation of waking on Christmas Day to discover that indeed, Santa has paid a visit to our house and left a stash of presents.
One of my earliest memories is captured in the picture below, the Christmas Eve of 1956 when my sister Katie was born. We don't have many pictures from that time but this one survived and I came across it today.
That's Joe to my left, he would have been 1, and he is being held by Shelly, who would be 6 and
already pushed into a surrogate parent role. Tony is on the end and he would have been 3 and a half.
Eventually there would be 8 children in 11 years which made gift buying a bit more arduous. But we always seemed to find a way to give everyone something even if it just a set of Bic pens or a comb or a box of cheap, dime store chocolate covered cherries.
Our mother was deathly afraid the tree would start on fire and burn the house the to the ground so it got taken down pretty hastily after the 25th. I loved the smell of the evergreen and the C-9 multi-colored bulbs with that silver tinsel we all got to hang rather haphazardly on the tree. It had its own charm as I recall.
Our parents divorced in 1974 and that was the end of family get-togethers at Christmas. The family home was sold shortly after the divorce and we siblings scattered all over the country and took on new families and spent our Christmas apart.
We lost Katie several years ago after a long battle with alcoholism and Tony passed away from cancer in 2014 and our parents are both gone as well. They are all remembered warmly today as part of my Christmas story.
We have 3 grandchildren, ages 6, 3 and 9 months, arriving in a few hours today, ready to write some of their Christmas stories tonight and tomorrow at their Nana and Papa's house. What a blessing to be able to play a part in creating what I hope will be a joyful Christmas story for each of them.
Wherever you are, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.