The tale of Xmas stockings goes this way. We had no chimney. But Santa arrived and brought the kids something for their stocking. He didn’t wrap them. And we left cookies – another story – on a plate for Santa. On Xmas morning, the kids would rush upstairs and examine their stockings first. I’d get photos and video. It was a close quarters narrow space because we hung the stockings on the stairway bannister. We never spoke of when the kids stopped believing in Santa. Really! They were in their twenties. Finally I asked when the moment came to them that there was no Santa… probably around the age of six? Well, they laughed sheepishly and told us they didn’t want to disappoint us. Too bad the spell was broken because that was the last year we did stockings. Oh the cookies… every year I had to eat the cookies and leave some crumbs so the kids would think Santa ate them. By the time Xmas eve comes you are pretty stuffed and even eating one more cookie is a chore.
I’ll mention one more anecdote. One year we were on Captiva Island on Christmas eve. Our flight was due to return that night. Rather than put together Christmas on December 25 we decided to tell the kids that Christmas was the next day 12/26. So on Christmas day we didn’t turn on a radio or the television and we actually pulled it off. The family came on 12/26; we all celebrated. I had taped Christmas music from the radio (the station played carols for 24 hours on 12/25). No one was the wiser. There was only a bad moment when the pilot on Christmas eve called out on the PA that he saw a man, a sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer outside the jet window. In reply to Julia’s question Lisa responded, “Santa has so many places to go, he’s getting a head start. I didn’t spill until the kids were past twenty.
This tradition ended pretty fast. For a while, every year Lisa would assemble a gingerbread house. It took her a few tries to work out construction issues. She wanted it all natural without any non-edible support. Believe me when I say that there were issues. When the kids were old enough they were the decorators. We’d have all manner of candy to apply. Though some people preserve the house and display it year after year, we ate ours in gleeful destruction. Then Lisa decided it was too much to do every year and we stopped.
There was a tendency to overdo the Christmas gifts in our house. It must have been a childhood compensatory thing. It means that there is ‘cleanup.’ Jane and David took it in another direction. It looked like they were having more fun with the wrapping than the gifts. As the commercial states, “It’s priceless.”
We always had a live cut tree since Lisa and I have been together. She told me her dad made a tree from cardboard once when she was little. Money being what it is, he said it just didn’t seem right to spend money on a dead tree. It’s another thing you do to correct things in your childhood. The kids always put the ornaments onto the tree. Initially it was just the ones you couldn’t break. Later on we still had to put the delicate ones above the height that the young nephews could reach. And finally with grown children we didn’t put up a tree at all last year. We went to my sister in law. …all grown up.
We’re in transition. The kids are grown but not yet married. There are no grandkids. Lisa’s tired of all the Christmas decorating (and especially the take down). So last year was a minimal year with presents exchanged and a Christmas tree visited at my brother’s house. But back when the kids were small…. We spent a few Christmases at the Westhampton house. No matter where, the kids were all excited about the tree decorating. Julia loved to read and I had hooked her into reading the Nancy Drew series. Meanwhile I had to test the strings of lights to see if they were working. As soon I tested the lights, Lisa would put them on the tree. She didn’t think I could do the lights quite right. And here’s Julia all set to go, right in the middle of it all. Yes, it’s a fond memory.
It’s Soho. And obviously, it’s near to Christmas. We were down shopping in a furniture store as I recall. The wet snow was covering the trees. I like this impressionist take on what would have been a wet dreary day. I don’t know the settings – film. But it works for me and it evokes a memory each time I look at this image. I am reminded of Maggie Sherwood, whose image totally blurred in the rain from a cab inspires me to this day.
In response to Happy Anniversary, my wife responded, “Are you really?” Well I suppose I am at least feeling merry. I wish a good holiday to all and happy new year. While there are many people who don’t celebrate Xmas, i didn’t realize that much of the world doesn’t have the same new year. And there are those unique holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween. I also know that it is near impossible to stage a family photo. The old folks hate how they look in pictures. The kids never sit still. The fact that you have anything at all on film is just pure luck. So, don’t sweat it. And leave out the old people. I don’t even care if you blink. Happy and safe holidays to all.
Early on my wife collected ornaments. So we don’t have a tree with one or the same ornaments. It’s a motley collection full of memories. She has dated the years and many have stories of our travels and places visited. So far it has not become an issue as to how to split the group up. Each year we unwrap and then hang them. The joke is to put the ugly ones to the back. And for a long time the delicate ones had to be higher than the kids and the dog.