I alternated spending Christmas and Easter with my mother and my father. Some of these memories are with my father and some are with my mother.
Breakfasts in the two households were different but both included foods that were part of that family’s traditions. So my mom would make a Swedish tea ring—until the year she found the Victorian Tea Pastry recipe and ditched the tea ring. The tea ring had to rise twice so Mom either made it the day before or got up at a ridiculously early hour to make it. My step-mother tended to have things like country bacon, and biscuits and gravy.
When I was six or seven, I spent Christmas in Denver with my father’s side of the family (his parents lived there) and I got my first ever watch. I felt so grown up.
In third or fourth grade, my mom and dad lived in Lexington, KY for the first time (we returned there a few years later for Dad’s residency and fellowship). I remember Mana and G’Pa came for Christmas and Mana had sewn my brother and me each a large green burlap bag with our initial on the front in red braid. I don’t remember what presents they put in there but I sure loved that bag.
That was the same year my mom made Doug and me each a super cool stuffed animal. I think Doug’s was a large white dog because he was really into Call of the Wild. I got a cat of course, and he was made of a very cool, mottled patterned baby corduroy. Doug and I often traded animals back and forth so they may have actually been given the other way around. But at the end of it all, I got them both because Doug wanted something else I had.
In sixth grade, back in Bryn Mawr with my father and step-mother, my mom and dad had sent me the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar (yes, on vinyl). I played those records to death and still have every word on that soundtrack memorized. That was the last year I spent Christmas with that side of the family. Long story, but it was how it needed to be.
And skipping ahead to my mid-20s, I will never forget the year Mom and Dad gave me and Rick a portable dishwasher. Mom cleverly wrapped a box of dishwasher detergent and somehow I did not figure out what it was until the moment I started taking the paper off the box. See, I have the ability to touch a present and just know what it is. It’s such a strong, reliable ability that Mom usually forbids me from touching anything and in fact this year, she mailed everything to Kent so I wouldn’t be tempted.
Got any special memories from your past Christmases?