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Spirits of Christmas Past

Holidays are bittersweet. I get exhausted with all the shopping, decorating, cooking, and socializing. But mostly I feel kind of melancholy, remembering celebrations in the past with my family.

Christmas was always a big deal in our house growing up. Decorations went up early, Mom started baking hundreds of cookies for us and to give to the neighbors, there were tons of church activities (choir practice, caroling, parties), and of course the big day itself. Even after I was grown and out of the house, every year I would drive up to my parents early Christmas morning and join them for gift opening and the big prime rib dinner. The next day or so my sister and her family would drive up and we'd have more gift giving and another big dinner (traditionally Shake and Bake Chicken and Noodles Alfredo). We'd watch movies and play board games and the kids would run around.

After my mother moved to the nursing home when her Alzheimer's progressed, we still kept the tradition, stopping by the home first to see Mom and give her her gifts. When my father died in 1996 the day after Thanksgiving, we did it one more time at the house, mainly for the kids (my brother's this time--my sister's were all grown up). We made the dinner, decorated the house, exchanged the gifts--and knew it was the last time. One year later I was living in San Francisco and my brother and his family were in Alabama. My other brothers still lived at the house--I don't know what they did. My sister stayed home.

These days I celebrate Christmas with my own tiny family (me and Steve) and the larger chosen family of our close friends. It's generally happy, but I'm always haunted (in a good but sad way) by the memories of Christmases past. I miss my parents. I miss my family. I suppose I could move back East and reconnect with my sister and brothers and nephews and nieces and their kids, but it wouldn't be the same. And there would be snow and cold, which I think I'm allergic to now.

I'm very, very grateful for all the blessings in my life--my home, my job, my health, my husband, my friends, my family. I don't take any of them for granted. But I guess the holidays will always be a mixed blessing for me. And that's OK. It is what it is.

A very merry and joyful holiday season to you all. Off to make a tourtiere!


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 25th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
Big warm fuzzy holiday hugs to you and Steve!
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:49 am (UTC)
Thanks--to you guys too!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:47 am (UTC)
THanks Mark, and to you and yours---
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:47 am (UTC)
Dec. 26th, 2009 05:56 am (UTC)
A tourtière? I guess your last name has more significance than I thought it did! I haven't seen one of those in about 15 years, not since I left Montreal.
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)
Yup. My grandfather was from Napierville, between Montreal and the border. Grew up with all kinds of funny food, and my grandparents always spoke French when they didn't want us kids to know what they were talking about.
Dec. 26th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC)
Merry Christmas to you both ....
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)
Re: Merry Christmas to you both ....
Dec. 26th, 2009 11:50 am (UTC)
I have very fond memories of family Christmas past too.
This year I gave an unintentional gift of getting my biological uncle back in touch with my birthmother. They haven't spoken in 30 years, until recently, and spent Christmas together for the first time, in as many years.
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC)
Wow...hard to imagine a family being separated for all that time, but I know it happens a lot. Heh--it's happinging to me!

Hope you guys are having a great holiday season. I'm playing with your paper dolls....
Dec. 26th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:49 am (UTC)
Thanks Chip!!
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
Will be getting my meat this week to make my pies for New Year's Day!!

No longer can eat ground pork with my heartburn, now make mine with veal and bison..same spices and no one can tell the difference.

we always served ours with dill pickles on the side growing up...memere just did that , so i do too!!

Enjoy1 Thinking of you!
Dec. 27th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)
Re: tourtiere
Hey Sue----Merry Xmas!

My mimere made hers with mashed potatoes. It was actually kind of gloppy, and my father found a recipe that we liked a lot better, and which I use today. I think it would work equally well with beef, lamb, bison, or venison--you're right, the spices do the trick. We always joke about how the summer savory in our cupboard is only ever used for tourtiere!

Dec. 27th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)
Re: tourtiere
You're right! Summer savory and poultry season come out just for that.

I throw in two handfuls of herb seasoned SMALL cubed Pepperidge Farm croutons instead of potatoes..it also gives it a nice flavor
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )