As the eldest child of a single mom, I was burdened with one primary responsibility – to keep the secret of Santa safe. Being her accomplice was no easy task. I went to every single toy store in the state with her. I helped her wrap all of Santa’s gifts until our fingers bled.* I even helped her hype up the Santa Hotline.** Together we very carefully planted all sorts of evidence that Santa had visited our tiny townhouse. However, there was one job I had to go into alone – eating Santa’s cookies. I was a pro. The trick was to make it look like he was in a hurry – take a few bites here and there, save some milk in the glass, and be sure to leave crumbs on and around the plate. One year I even left a trail of crumbs leading to our front door. (We had no chimney, he had to get in somehow.) After I wolfed down both mine and Santa’s share, my mom and I would lay by our beautiful Christmas tree, me in my self-induced cookie coma and my mom with her bleeding fingers, just watching the small, electric train travel around the trunk.
My mom made Christmas a lot of fun. She even caved in one year and let us get the big-colorful-blinking–bulb-seizure lights my sister and I wanted. My mom is a Christmas tree freak. Her trees look like they came straight out of the NYC Macy’s window display. She layers ribbons, strings of pearls, white lights, and strategically hangs each ornament until it’s perfect. PERFECT. She goes through phases of decorating – one year it was country chic, a few years later it was bright metallics, then after that it was hand blown glass, and now she’s obsessed with an all red and green tree. She collects three new ornaments each year for my brother, sister, and I to have someday. She’s just about replaced all of the old ornaments, except three. When my mom started her ornament hoarding, my sibs and I thought it would be a great idea to DIY some for her. We picked up three clear plastic globes, some paint, ribbon, glitter, and a handful of tchotchkes. Our inspiration – the snow globe. Brilliant, right? All three turned out great. They were the perfect set of snowy goodness made with love. And where does she put them? On the back of the tree that faces the window in her living room. She says she wants the entire neighborhood to appreciate the craftsmanship, but we know she’s full of it.
As an adult and a wife, the holidays still mean very much the same thing. Cookies and ugly ornaments. Kidding. For me, the holidays are about the memories you make and the people you share them with. I appreciate the memories my mom created for us all those years, and I hope to do the same for my family. This is our first year celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas as a married couple. The traditions we create now may very well be the same ones we share with our future children, which is very exciting. And just in case you’re curious, we haven’t decided what to do about the whole Santa thing. Someone even suggested partnering him up with Hanukkah Harry. I think this can be dangerous for both Josh and I. (Exhibit A: Double the self-induced cookie comas.) Not to mention the whole he-sees-you-when-you’re-sleeping thing creeps me out.
We started our own holiday tradition just last year. Just before Christmas Eve we get together with a handful of my cousins and exchange gag gifts under $15. We eat lots of food, drink lots of drinks, and make cracks at our new gifts. Last year, Josh’s Secret Santa got him his most favorite things in life – a pack of Nathan’s hot dogs and Ghirardelli’s Peppermint Bark. He must have been a very good boy.
* Not really. There was no blood involved.
** You could call some local number and either hear a recorded message from Santa or a where-is-he-now status report. It was ridic.
Sidenote, you should know that Isaiah loves Nathan’s hotdogs, and considering we’re Vienna-all-beef-Chicago-style-hotdog-snobs, that’s saying a lot.