My dad made the memories
Growing up in a big Italian household, I couldn’t pick just one memory. I owe a lot of my best memories to my dad, who made sure that every year we continued on with our yearly Christmas customs. Getting into the Christmas spirit began with making cookies at the island kitchen table. Cue the Christmas music and the countdown to the baking began. Dad alone would make the dough as he powerfully whistled to the music of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas.” I can never forget thinking the pain of it piercing my eardrums but loving every minute anyway. As the youngest of seven, the typical constant jokes made by my eclectic brothers and sisters were particularly amusing, and the parent-child love bickering over making the fatal mistake of misshapen, unevenly sized cookies. “It’s critical they are all the same size,” my Dad would stress to us. The fun never stopped though, forming the cut-out cookies while all of us mentioning how that is the best dough to eat while we dined on it. The work never stopped either, pinwheels, figs, snickerdoodles, wine cookies, and the brown ones that I can’t remember the name of but the slang term my siblings originated I will always remember.
I wouldn’t want to leave out the fond memory of 1996 seeing holiday joy on the faces of certain family members as they sang carols in the living room to songs like “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and “We Three Kings” as I played the melody on the piano. Then there is the constant fiasco of singing the 12 days of Christmas that my dad enforces on us every year. Friends and family each have one of the days to sing which never has the outcome of fluidity, but that’s kind of the point, I guess. It generates plenty of laughter, shouting and merriment, every single year. This we had to sing not only once, but twice, while various reluctant vocalists would try getting out of it by a moot appeal or more effectively, stealthily leaving the room, but you couldn’t deny that the fun would imminently ensue to the point of tears.
Christmas Eve was a regular hit. Of course the night began with church service. Then we would spend the rest of the evening at the my grams nieces house that sat only a block away from ours so we would just walk over. As a 7-year-old who dreaded wearing a mandatory dress in the wintertime, that walk down the wintry hill was the briskest walk of the season that didn’t bode well for me. Though, once we reached our relatives house it felt worth it with the bountiful food display with “Dumb and Dumber” and “A Christmas Story” marathon playing on the television. It was kid discourse and adult yakking and gabbing as everyone chowed down on sausage, meatball subs, cookies, and my favorite, homemade cannolis, as I’d hear Jim Carrey exclaim “We got no food, we got no jobs, our pets heads are falling off!” in the background.
My fondest memory encapsulates them all with family love as the central part of these great traditions that are permanently highlighted in my holiday memory keepsake. Remembering these moments is a Christmas gift in itself.