Tuesday, November 22, 2016


It is Christmas or as they now say politically corrected: "The Holidays!"

Time to start reading the catalogs and planning on buying a present or two for TLW (The Little Woman). Couple this dilemma with a small "stocking gift" that has taken root in my family since TLW instituted it over 45 years ago.

Before I married, there were no stocking gifts, and if there were, that is what you got, new socks to wear. We didn't have a fireplace, so we put them on the cast-iron stove we had in the kitchen to dry! Today we say: "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!" then someone hands you a fancily wrapped present, maybe a fancy bag with tissue paper and bows to make it sophisticated. Growing up, someone gave you a present, they handed it to you in a paper bag or if it came in box and said: "Here!" No: "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Holidays!" You got over it quickly.

Tradition had it that you decorated the tree, and in the midst of doing so, you knocked it over at least once, Dad would swear and we got over that too!

There was always a traditional Christmas Day dinner. In those days' we were still celebrating Christmas and not the Holidays. Mom would deck out in her fancy kitchen apron, the same one she washed the floors in, cooked and cleaned in, and began the massive process of feeding us. Today there are fancy ‘Holiday' plates, weird napkin holders to hold linen napkins, Irish stem wear from Waterford and even pitchers of water and fancy label wine bottles from fancy wineries. In the old days' we had the same plates we always ate on, chipped and all, the glasses were Welch Jelly glasses with your favorite cartoon characters to liven the drinking process. On the center of the table stood the pitcher of home-made wine with orange slices sitting in the midst of the blue-black lagoon.

Today you take out your pre-lit and pre-decorated tree if you are an old fogey and put it on a small table and take a nap.

In the old days' there was the church. You had to go to church before you could settle into play with your new toys. Today, you go out and when you do, make sure to avoid the traffic on the street where the church is.

Going down my street at night during the season, one need not put on their headlights, since just about every house will be lit up with Holiday Lights! Back in the day, there were no lights, just the warm glow of the street lamp that lit the sidewalks and made mysterious shadows in the entryways of each apartment.
He knew his cheap trees!

If you entered a store in August today, you will be greeted by the display of Holiday ornaments, greeting cards and suggestions for Holiday shopping. Holiday cards come to your house in the mail the day after Thanksgiving in time for the Holidays. Trees can be seen standing in front windows as everyone attempt to create a Holiday display that looks like it was done in Better Homes and Gardens or a Macy Store display! When Dad was in charge, he got a live tree on Christmas Eve, (One on life support) that he carried up a few flights of stairs and dropped in the living room and we all prayed it would last until the day after Christmas and said: "Here! Get busy, this cost me 25 cents!" You could follow the falling pine needles all the way to Pitkin Avenue where he purchased it.

The night before Christmas, Mom would go to midnight Mass, and we would wake up while she was gone and find all our toys under the tree! Suddenly there would be a noise at the door, shaking us out of our skins as Mom would explode through the door asking: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP!?" The next morning, we would realize there were empty boxes laying around the apartment. Being inquisitive I would ask Dad why there were empty toy boxes all over the place. Me: Dad, why are there these empty toy boxes, I thought Santa carried the toys in a bag?" Dad: "Yes, I asked him to bring some boxes over in case you ever wanted to put them away. Me: Oh!?

Also, when we went to bed, there were no sissy visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head, just ravioli or lasagna smiling back at me with a great looking meatball.

But in the new tradition of the ‘Holidays', I have a reoccurring nightmare every year for the last 45 years, I forgot to get TLW a present. In the dream, I am sitting in the old living room in our past apartment, and she hands me a present, with a card and thoughtfully wrapped gift when I realize I forgot to get her anything. This immediately diminishes my self-worth, self-respect, and thankfully it is all disrupted by the fact that I need to go to the bathroom, rescuing me from a bad dream and planning a target date to shop for her, before it is too late and the nightmare comes true!


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