We hit the jackpot. My mom loved Christmas.
Our house was a bonanza of homemade decorations. Angels made from foil wrapped Galliano bottles. Remember when people drank it with orange juice? I knew how to make a Harvey Wallbanger by age eight. Blech!
Gail made candles in milk cartons. They looked like a block of Swiss cheese spray painted gold in a cold garage. At some point, holiday tunes from Liberace or Ferrante & Teicher would be spinning on the stereo. The presents under the tree had heavy ‘70s holiday vibes — wrapped in coordinating colours and patterns. My mom dropped serious cash at the Hallmark store.
She went the distance for all of us. I asked her recently how she and my dad worked it out between them about what to get us. She said, “I shopped, and he didn’t put limits on it.” My dad was a good union guy. Chuck made my Chrissy doll dreams come true.
In my family, the real party began after the midnight endurance fest. An hours-long showboat event with men in flash robes swinging a thurible of incense, smoking like a bong. We paid good money all year for this pageant. Eight-year-old me sucking back a lungful of frankincense. The wretched cloud you had to pass through to get food and presents — the catholic way.
I’ve got a photo of us kids, including my cousins and an uncle, doing crazy things. It’s a brilliant snapshot with a Christmas tree in the background. It oozes fun. That’s why I keep it for myself. Private.
I’m in Alberta with my mom for the holidays. We’re doing road trips to visit historic grain elevators.
The Sly & The Family Stone song was on the charts in December 1971, the Christmas when I was eight, almost nine.
There are infinite iterations of what family means. I hope you’re with your best people. And if you’re alone, I’ve been there too. Be good to yourself. You are worth it.
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