the holiday season while i was growing up
was always a lot of fun for my family. we had many traditions and the sense of family was so strong that if i ever wanted to feel warm and fuzzy, i thought to this time of year. it’s why 4Q (or 4th quarter) is my favorite time of year.
my family lived in several cities. cincinnati, dayton, cleveland, troy, boston, grand blanc, brookfield, naperville and then southlake. but in every one, we had the same christmas decorations that followed us from place to place. opening the boxes of stuff was like saying hello to an old friend and decorating the house was something that a busy mom with three young kids in a new house probably didn’t want to do but she did.
my lovely grandma always came during this time of year too. i wish i could go back to the day she arrived and capture that excitement and anticipation even for a minute. it was overwhelming! i wish she was still around. her hands were so soft and wrinkly and smelled like triple lanolin hand lotion. she had a tuft of tissue peeking out from the bottom of the arm of her sweater. grandma’s are so cool. maybe i should go to the old age home and adopt one. the great thing about my grandma was that she very much “told it how it was” but in a sweet way. she had a very strong POV, which come to think of it – so do I and so does my mom. thanks, gran! having her around the house to talk to and have fun with was always a sign that christmas was near.
my mom and grandma decided to wrap all our presents downstairs in the basement together. i think they had some music set up, perhaps a little hit of chardonnay and a ton of gifts. we were older – i was a freshman in high school and katie and jim in grade school. my parents kind of went all out on christmas. they were really generous. we had a ton of presents to open typically. so this wrapping job was intense and an all day affair. well they didn’t get through it all in one day so they put one piece of scotch tape across the basement door at the top as a “safety” so they could tell if any snoopy kids went down there, and they left it for the night. well, no one IS as snoopy (to this day) as my sister, katie. however, i don’t remember her being a part of this escapade. i knew that i was going to get some of the popular clothing for christmas- all the preppy stuff. this is when preppy was really huge and i had my handbook and was following it. izod, pappagallo handbags, topsiders, argyle, wide wale cords – you name it. didn’t you read:
i truly thought it would help mom out if i were to try on some of the clothes before she wrapped them so that if they didn’t fit, she would have time to get the right size before christmas. so that night, i peeled back the tape and slowly descended the basement stairs. carefully i avoided the second to the last stair that had a creek to it when you landed on it. and wouldn’t you know it – i was right! clothes all over the place. excitedly, i stepped in and out of pink, green outfits, tried on grosgrain hairbands and penny loafers. however, the one benetton sweater that i probably would have just used to throw around my shoulders was a bit too big.
i thought long and hard how to bring this up to my mom and gran. i knew that i would be scolded for going in the basement but probably rewarded for finding out early that the sweater was too big and saving them time at the mall in that horrible post-christmas rush to return it. so i approached it carefully. both my mom and grandma had (and have) a way at looking at you – a bit sideways with upturned eyebrows – to let you know instantly that you made the wrong decision. i got one – no two – of these looks.
needless to say, this did not go over well with gran and mom and come christmas day, there was no benetton sweater to be opened at all. i learned my lesson but good. it’s ok to look but not tell.