This morning I stood at the top of my stairs and looked down on our Christmas tree and was transported to another time. For all the years I lived in my parent’s house we had a Christmas routine. Mom would spend part of Christmas Eve making a strata or breakfast casserole for us to eat Christmas morning. The night before Christmas we would lay out PB sandwiches and milk – along with cookies – for Santa. Santa was remarkably like my Dad – and didn’t miss any opportunity to eat dessert. Excitedly my brother and I would go to bed… mind you, not to sleep. An important distinction. My Dad didn’t get much sleep either. He would stay up nearly all night putting together whatever was the toy of the season. Most notably a pink kitchenette that is family legend
It is the top of the stairs that gets me every year. Once awake we would gather there and whether 5 (as in most of these photos), 15 or 25, we would stop and wait while he went downstairs to see if Santa had come. It seemed an interminable time. He would make coffee, pour juice for my Mom and light the fire. Only then would he let us know it was safe to come down. We would run to the Christmas tree under which was such bounty. Gifts from our family near and far, and loads of unwrapped goodies from Santa. Stockings filled to the brim with treats – always with gold chocolate coins and oranges. Arms flailing, wrapping paper tossed, my Dad would quietly go behind us picking up the remnants.
Finally things would slow down, we would eat breakfast, play with our new swag, and settle into the afternoon routine. Each year Mom would sew me a new Christmas dress that I would wear for the big meal. She would busy herself with merchandising the packages under the tree and we would prepare for afternoon visits from family friends. Thru the years, these became more and more legendary and I still remember the first with CF and his infamous Goombay Smash – but that is a story for another time. I remember all of this. The year we got Ginty. The year of the kitchenette. The year he made a snow fort which I crawled around in for hours. I remember I knew every bug by name. And how many daughters can say they got a tractor as a toy?
The purpose for this blog has always been to share with Little a. and J. moments and lessons from our life. Today’s is about Family – something I believe my brother and sister-in-law have embedded deeply in the kids. Family matters. And on this Christmas, likely my last with my Dad, it matters most.
I look at this photo and realize that these people have loved me longer than anyone else on the planet. The pictures on the wall still hang in my parents home. They bring me comfort when I walk through the door – more so, I realize now, when our life as a family is about to be disrupted. I cannot imagine making this part of life’s journey without my brother who is unflinchingly present for me and my Mom. The strength of my father is deep in his soul and he will take care of you as my Dad has taken care of us. He has always been able to make me laugh – secret smiles between us – that only come from having grown up one door down the hallway and from having to share a bathroom.
I have deep and profound memories of my Dad. I have loved him all of my life. I will remember it all. And for him some words from Neil Young…..
We’ve been through some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do in stormy weather
Long may you run
Long may you run, long may you run
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining in the sun
Long may you run