Will it be a Gem or Coal year?

Christmas is a time of wonder and joy for all.  A season of blessings and charity for others, but not every year goes accordingly.  This week I’d like to share with you some of my very best Christmases as well as the worst.  In the comments below, I would love it if you could share some of your Gems or Coals with me.

Christmas Eve

Christmas is magical as a child.  The anticipation of the gifts, the joy of being out of school, cookies, candy and the hope of catching Santa on the roof at midnight Christmas Eve, it’s all so perfect for children of any age.  For my family we usually spent Christmas in Massachusetts with both sets of grandparents.  The 24th was a dinner and opening presents at Nana and Papa’s in Norwood.  All of the cousins were there and one of us would be appointed to pass out the gifts.  It was a long process, as we were a full family of 16 and we had to wait turns opening each present.  But we would get through and by late evening my parents would bring us to Foxborough to my dad’s parent’s house.  My sisters and I were the only grandchildren, so it was a lot quieter than Norwood.  

Christmas day

I remember setting out cookies and carrots (for the reindeer) at night and going to bed with a smile on my face waiting for the jolly ol’ Saint Nick to deliver present. First thing in the morning I’d wake my sisters, parents and grandparents, then run to the tree, blazing with lights and boxes leading their way underneath the pine bows.  We’d have to wait until everyone was awake (my mom took the longest) but Grammy would make us breakfast – pancakes as my sisters and I would start on unwrapping the small gifts in our stockings. 

We’d play all day and by the afternoon we’d return to Connecticut.  For years upon years that was how Christmas went.  But families got older and some moved away so after a while it became just our single family enjoying Christmas at our house on Els Hollow.  

I moved to California in 1999 and from that point on Christmas became what I wanted it to be – or so I thought.  I met Jon in 2000 and with him each year has been different from the one before.  Christmas 2001 I thought for sure he was going to propose to me.  He had three envelopes and asked me to pick one I wanted.  I was excited beyond belief thinking, aww he wrote out the question and what, was the ring in his pocket… Nope, I opened the envelope and it was a picture of a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Sure, I wanted one and it would have been an awesome gift, but I had to bite my lip and stifle the burning tears of disappointment.  He knew something was wrong though and I had to tell him.  Luckily, he said that he had another plan for that.  My following birthday in June ended up being our engagement day.

The next year, Jon and I had moved to Illinois and by far the worst Christmas ever was when we broke up for all of fourteen hours on Christmas Eve.  I won’t get into the details (shocker!) but we needed time to adjust to our new life in the midwest vs. California – it was too much for Jon to handle – being poor from the move, living with so much family around, and having no time together since he went back to school.  So he panicked.  The next day though, he realized by a series of overly repeating songs on the radio – ones I still can’t listen to – that this was just a bump in the road, not the whole journey and we agreed to put off getting married and get used to the new life. 

The next Christmas, down on both knees Jon re-proposed.  The following December we married and a year and nine days later – Christmas day 2006 our son, Cameron was born.  Yep, he’s a Christmas baby!  And with his birth the magic of the holiday came back. 

The night before, Jon’s parents, my parents, three of my sisters, my brother-in-law and nephew were having a little party.  My due date was December 27th and I had been having strange pains and feelings all day.  I was restless and uncomfortable all night and by 10:30 pm Jon had to go into work.  His parents were staying at our house and we had all gone to bed after Jon left.  I settled down with A Christmas Story trying to sleep.  But just before midnight a huge contraction ripped through me and I screamed out for my mother-in-law.  The baby was on his way. 

By 2 a.m. my mother, mother-in-law and father-in-law drove down the emptied, snow-lined cobbled streets on the Hawthorne neighborhood.  It was an old street full of brightly lit Victorian houses.  Each one was decorated with wreathes, trees and twinkling lights as we drove cautiously down the bumpy street. My mother still tells the story of how magical it was.  We reached the hospital, met Jon and after a hard labor and finally a caesarean section, Cameron came into the world at 9:48pm Christmas night, weighing 7 pounds and 6 ounces.  He was the best Christmas present ever!

Since then Christmases are mostly hits with the occasional miss, but overall, it is still my favorite time of year.  I love the camaraderie of people in general, the songs, the baking, the secretive gift buying, Christmas cards, surprising family… all of it!!  And plus now, we get to have birthday cake on Christmas night!  So please, friends, family share with me one of your favorite Christmases or a worst, if you so feel the need and have a 

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S!!!!

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3 Comments

  1. I guess my worst Christmas was the year I snuck each of my presents from under the tree into the bathroom and carefully unwrapped and rewrapped them. It makes for a pretty anticlimatic Christmas morning, “Oh, yeah. That’s the purple sweater (yawn).”

    The best- maybe the year my husband gave me a diamond and sapphire anniversary band. At the time I worked at a jewelry store and had been ogling the piece for a while but had NO idea that Don had purchased it. We were staying at a bed and breakfast in Pennsylvania that Christmas. My dad had rented out the whole place and my husband and I, along with my brother and sisters and their families, were staying there (my dad and stepmom bunked down at a nearby hotel). Don and I had the coolest room on the top floor with sloped ceilings and I was already flying pretty high when he gave me the ring. (This may sound familar to you, Eryn, as I wrote about it in one of my books!) He had me close my eyes and then open them. I looked down and on the quilt was a Snicker bar that he had snuck in and bought for me at a gas station we had stopped at on the way to the b&b. I was thrilled! Even more so when I discovered the ring under it! I tore off immediately, screaming in a very undignified way in these very dignified surroundings, wanting to show the ring off to my sisters. I think that was the sweetest gift I ever received (even without the Snickers!)

    Or maybe it was one of the Christmases when the kids were little and they received those special gifts, the sled, leaning against the wall, the basketball hoop in the garage (“Santa’s” clues led them to that one and I think their squeals still hang out in the farthest realms of the atmosphere somewhere). Or the year we hid some of the gifts at my mom’s and then couldn’t find them and Santa had to leave Mitch a note saying that his beanie baby panther must have fallen off of the sleigh when it was over the ocean and that a new one would arrive in the mail.

    Or wait! Maybe the year when I was in fifth grade and we got a black lab puppy for Christmas! My parents couldn’t keep him quiet and called us down out of bed. I still remember the way he was squirming and jumping and yelping when he saw us running down the stairs towards him and he broke free and plastered us with kisses!

    Ahh, Christmas is great, isn’t it? But I think the best parts are trudging over freshly-fallen snow to a well-lit church, bursting with song and the scent of pine needles, or time simply spent with family relaxing (which, face it, we don’t do a lot of these days). Sitting around Christmas morning while the house is trashed with crumpled wrapping paper, torn ribbons, packing peanuts, and half-empty glasses of eggnog and not caring about the mess.

    Your blog has gotten me excited, Eryn! How many more days again?!

    Merry Christmas to you, and yours! Thanks for sharing your stories!-mj

    O

  2. Love the pictures, Eryn! They accent your blog post nicely. I don’t think I have a worst Christmas. That has to be good thing, right? I’m just so happy to have my boys home for a few weeks. I plan to enjoy all the time I get!

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